India may have transformed itself into a tech hub over the last three decades, but there’s still one thing that’s glaringly absent: women founders and tech entrepreneurs.
A new piece by CNN Business notes that only 8 to 10 percent of India’s tech founders are women. That’s considerably lower than the number of women founders in the United States. A report by American Express found that here in the U.S. 39 percent of privately-held firms are owned by women.
— CNN Business (@CNNBusiness) October 10, 2018
To help increase the ranks of women in tech, Facebook sponsored a conference in New Delhi this week to promote women entrepreneurship.
“”We need a lot of work to make sure women are coming ahead and running a tech business,” Satyajeet Singh, Facebook’s head of platform partnerships in India, told the audience.
Facebook began the SheLeadsTech program last year on International Women’s Day in order to help support women in the field. The company’s researchers found that while an overwhelming majority of women were interested in founding their own businesses, major obstacles like gender bias and a lack of investor support prevented them from moving forward.
The group found that family commitments, financial insecurity and “not knowing where to start,” were all factors in why Indian women were not pursuing entrepreneurship.
“In fact, only 8 percent of the queries received at the Startup India call center with regards to setting up a new business come from women – indicating that a majority of women still think twice before considering startups as a viable career option,” Karan Anand of Startup India Hub noted when SheLeadsTech debuted last year.
Indian women who are anxious about finding funding are perfectly valid in that fear. “Facebook’s research showed that only 2% of funds raised by Indian startups in 2017 went to female founders,” CNN noted.
The uphill battle for funding and jobs is not limited to India’s tech world. The country’s women continue to have one of the lowest employment rates out of all the countries in the G20 with the exception of Saudi Arabia. Addressing gender inequality in the Indian workforce would have an instant impact on its economy. A McKinsey report found that addressing those disparities would potentially add up to $770 billion to the economy.