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Why We Need To Keep Using Terms Like ‘Female CEO’ and ‘Female Founder’

Do you find the terms ‘female CEO’ or ‘female founder‘ empowering? Or does is make you think of of female boss/side hustle culture? Or do we need to simply use them more and show more examples of female founders at all levels. There are plenty of examples of top successful female CEO’s , Sara Blakely of Spanx, and the side hustle/female boss CEOs like Natalie Elizabeth Ellis of Boss Babe inc. But what about all the female founders in-between?

The numbers of female founders and CEOs in recent years has grown, with around half of new businesses created, are started by women over the last three years. With the number of women-owned companies also increasing 114% in the last two decades.

However the terms ‘female founder’ or ‘female CEO’ can be inhibiting or empowering, or controversial, depending on the person asked. A problem which some state is that the founders success is her success, yet she then becomes labelled not only for her accomplishments but for her gender. This are important conversations to have, and continuously have.

female founder, female CEO,
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At the same time, including gender, may also show the true extent of her accomplishments. Becoming a founder or CEO as a female is often fraught with a tricky path of institutional and societal barriers, assumptions, lack of opportunities, lack of funding, and lack of voice. Not to mention, there is a lack of examples for upcoming founders to be outside of the two ends of the spectrums of the Sara Blakelys and the online side hustle culture CEOs such as Boss Babe inc.

But who are the people in-between? Who are the ‘every-day’ female founders and CEOs? We here at Female Health Founders, are on a mission to share weekly stories and examples of these female founders, to help bridge this gap. At the same time, simply search on LinkedIn ‘Female Founder’ and only 1.5k people will pull through, but put in ‘female CEO’ and 7.8 million women will appear. It seems the power of the CEO as a descriptor for your work is a far more popular option and identifying term.

female founder, female CEO,
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Let’s take the USA as an example. In 2023 women made up half of the population, but only 13% of startup founders in that year. Yet despite the low startup representation, female leaders tend to perform better than all-male team, they have 35% high ROIs and 63% higher valuations, when compared to all male teams and companies. Female founders will also generate around 10% more revenue over a five-year period, over male-founded companies.

Yet, despite the value of female leaders, founders and CEOs, venture capital funding for women remains far from equal. Female founders received 1.9% of all venture capital raised in 2022. Unsurprisingly 85% of venture capitalists are male. Creating a male dominated funding eco-system.

female founder, female CEO,
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In essence, wherever they are in the eco-system of business, from startups or corporate settings, spanning from financial support by venture capitalists to securing loans, women encounter inherent disadvantages when compared to men. The usage of the terms female founder and female CEO or female board member, they all synergise the reality, emphasising that women in leadership roles confront dual challenges: the broader task of being a leader and the unique hurdle of being a woman. Their triumphs, therefore, not only reflect their achievements but also signify their ability to overcome gender biases. Persisting with terms like female founder and female CEO serves as a continual acknowledgment of this disparity, while simultaneously recognising and celebrating the accomplishments and victories these women have attained despite the obstacles they’ve faced.