Until now, there weren’t any pieces of local, academic research that looked at the specific challenges that kiwi women entrepreneurs face.
A study from the University of Auckland’s School of Business has now broken ground in this space, and pulled back the curtain on the curtain on the various levels of sexism women entrepreneurs in Aotearoa face as they raise capital for their business.
Janine Swail, who authored the research, conducted interviews with 26 local women at different stages of their capital raising ventures, as well as male and female investors. The results showed that women were still facing a mixed bag of sexist set backs and attitudes. For many women who had male business partners or co-founders, the study found that potential investors would direct their comments to the male — under the assumption that the women wasn’t the decision maker.
The research that the questions that were asked to the women, however, were around if they were planning on having a family, if they were single, plus comments on their choice of clothing.
Swail’s research also showed glimpses into the challenges that extend beyond the venture investment world: the home and personal challenges such as shifts in support for childcare, and the need to pitch to partners to get support for their businesses.
Swain is calling on the investment community to become aware of the biases they may have, and take the needed steps to address and eventually stamp them out.
“If this is the ecosystem that we have, how will that encourage other women entrepreneurs to put themselves out there and raise capital if they are aware they are going to face extreme challenges ahead?”
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