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Women Pioneering Change and Driving Economic Value Startups led by women are not just keeping pace with, but surpassing, their male-led counterparts in terms of financial performance—generating 10% more cumulative revenue over a five-year period. It showcases the innovation and economic efficiency women bring to entrepreneurship

By Rashmi Saluja

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The technology and innovation landscape, traditionally dominated by men, has witnessed a promising shift towards greater gender diversity with more women leaders and founders in the innovation space. A report from WISER's Women in India's Startup Ecosystem reveals that the percentage of startups led by women in India has increased to 18% over the last five years. Simultaneously, a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study highlighted that startups led by women are not just keeping pace with, but surpassing, their male-led counterparts in terms of financial performance—generating 10% more cumulative revenue over a five-year period. It showcases the innovation and economic efficiency women bring to entrepreneurship.

WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS MAKING WAVES

Women entrepreneurs often face barriers in securing funding, with a BCG study highlighting a funding gap where women business owners receive significantly less early-stage capital than their male counterparts. However, women founders continue to break barriers and push boundaries with decision-making authority and leadership roles across the startup ecosystem. Initiatives like the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), launched by NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) in 2018, provide practical support to enable female founders to launch and expand ventures.

THE ECONOMIC IMPERATIVE OF GENDER DIVERSITY IN LEADERSHIP

The importance of gender diversity in executive teams cannot be overstated. A report by McKinsey indicates that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. This underscores the economic benefits of having women in high-level decision-making roles, particularly in sectors driven by technology and innovation.

WHAT IS REQUIRED?

Firstly, organizations should focus on creating a supportive and inclusive work culture that values diversity and gender equality. Secondly, there should be targeted efforts to identify and develop female talent through mentorship programs and leadership development initiatives. By providing the necessary support and resources, women can be empowered to take on leadership positions and excel in their roles. Additionally, it is important to challenge societal stereotypes and biases that perpetuate the underrepresentation of women in leadership

ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY IN STEM

Education can be a great tool to bridge the social gap and empower women in general. Female enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses has reached 43%, which is one of the highest in the world. It needs a further boost.

FOSTERING AN INCLUSIVE FUTURE

More initiatives that involve mentorship programs, networking events, and funding opportunities are crucial. There is a need to challenge and change systemic biases that hinder women's participation in tech entrepreneurship to foster full-fledged growth for tech-based innovations across sectors.

Rashmi Saluja

Executive Chairperson, Religare Enterprises Limited

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