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Why it’s harder for women to start a business

Nearly nine in 10 tech companies polled in a recent survey were established by men and the rest with women co-founders.
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Nearly nine in 10 tech companies polled in a recent survey were established by men and the rest with women co-founders. Only one of 100 companies in the survey were founded by women. Photo: geralt
Nearly nine in 10 tech companies polled in a recent survey were established by men and the rest with women co-founders. Only one of 100 companies in the survey were founded by women. Photo: geralt

Only a handful of women are technology entrepreneurs in a notoriously male-dominated industry, according to a survey.

Nearly nine in 10 tech companies were founded by men and the rest with women co-founders.

The survey was conducted by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association and the Hong Kong Productivity Council which interviewed 100 companies, 80 of which were small and medium enterprises.

It found only one of these companies was founded by women.

Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to Grace Woo, an American-born Chinese who works in Los Angeles as a supply chain executive in a 125-year-old listed company.

Grace is also an angel investor. She and six female friends run a small fund which invests in women entrepreneurs.

“In the US, there are only a few senior female corporate executives,” Grace says.

That’s quite surprising given the advance state of women’s rights in the country.

“US employers reckon that married women are less likely to stay, especially if they have children,” she says.

Unlike Hong Kong, the US has no foreign domestic helpers and babysitters are expensive.

Hence, many mothers give up their careers.

Married women also tend to follow their husbands when they change jobs or relocate.

So, employers generally believe married women would leave the company sooner or later.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg cited her late husband, Dave Goldberg, for supporting her job appointment in the San Francisco Bay Area by quitting his full-time job.

However, such instances are more the exception than the rule.

Prejudices are also found among angel investors.

They prefer male entrepreneurs because they believe women are generally more willing to give up their careers at any moment.

That makes it harder for women start-up entrepreneurs to get financing.

Grace says her group of angel investors shares a common trait — their husbands are all highly mobile, meaning they can survive in any environment.

Which is why they are much more able to be of help to their wives.

There’s one more reason women are less likely to become entrepreneurs — they tend to be more conservative and averse to risk.

Many of my entrepreneur friends encourage me to start my own business. They often tell me I have good judgment.

“You have a good track record of identifying winners when they were still hardly noticed by the market,” they would tell me.

“Had you bought into those companies, you’d have already had an excellent portfolio.”

It’s all about being fearless and being able to convince yourself that nothing is impossible.

Grace says that is a common weakness among women.

“Very often, women have to feel absolutely certain before they try something new,” she says.

“Men are different. Even if they think there’s only a 50 percent chance anything will succeed, they’ll go ahead.”

This article appeared in the writer’s blog.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

RA

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Keeping a pulse on Asia's aspiring and leading entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurs Asia editorial team brings readers the latest news, interviews, events and other resources that matter.

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