A campaign by CEU iLab to raise awareness for gender equality in startup ecosystem.
According to Startup Heatmap's survey taken in 2020, only 15.5% of entrepreneurs in Europe are female ('Women Entrepreneurs in Europe', 2020). CEU iLab is facing the challenge of finding more female entrepreneur talents too, however, we are sure that more skilled, talented, and independent women are out there. Thus, on International Women's Day, we asked some of our female founders to share their visions: why is it worth becoming a female leader? What is the add-on of being a female when it comes to leadership/profession? What is the concept that you bring to the table as a woman?
Raising the above-mentioned 15% to 50% may sound too ambitious, but at the end of the day, that's our main goal: reach gender equality and have more female founders and CEOs. Find some inspiration, and make your move! Let's change the #15to50!
We asked some of the women founders at iLab, how do they evaluate their entrepreneurial journey, what is their advice for other women out there and why is worth to become a leader? Here are their stories.
"The thing is, you have to get on with it. Stand up for yourselves, stand up for what is right and do it with professional conviction, with heart and soul. It makes no difference whether you are a man or a woman: professionalism overrides all social conventions. True, as a woman you often have to be even louder to be heard, and shouting is wrong. I'm working to reach a level where quiet professional strength is a statement. That is my statement."
"It is hard to be what you cannot see."
"We need to increase the visibility of successful women : in science, in tech, in engineering, in leadership positions. Seeing authentic women defying stereotypes will help other women stop holding themselves back. It will inspire girls who will be offered new kinds of role models."
"Being in charge as a woman is liberating and energizing, helping you grow into a self-conscious individual with principle. While coming across confident, the female approach encourages a less authoritative leadership, a team spirit based on trust, empathy and kindness."
"People say every journey begins with a single step. When it comes to building a business, however, I think most of us are not afraid of the first step, but the destination: What if I fail? What if I harm my reputation? Will I lose money? You have every right to ask these questions because the world is a judgmental place — especially toward ambitious businesswomen. Yes, you’re likely to lose money. Yes, there’ll be people who get off on your failure; they will even laugh at you for trying again and again. While they’re busy judging and laughing, you’ll learn how to plan, how to build, to lead, to market, to sell ,to present your ideas, and you’ll come to understand yourself and your capabilities more thoroughly. You’ll expand your network with passionate ,visionary people who see the world as it could be. Step-by-step you’ll let goof naysayers and embrace the world as a place of opportunity where your ideas might just find a place to grow and bear fruit, no matter how fanciful they might seem. Take that first step, own it, it’ll pay off!"
"The whole startup paradigm seems very masculine to me: think big, take risks, fail fast or grow fast, fake it until you can make it... At first, I felt really intimidated by the whole idea, because it did not feel right to me. Before founding Longevity Project, I knew for many years that I wanted to build my own business but my whole motivation was so different. I didn't need the glory and I did not chase huge dreams or wanted to become rich fast. I don't know if that's because I am a woman or simply because of my personality. All I wanted was to be true to myself and to do something that was useful and valuable for people. And I wanted to build this with a team I chose and loved. My company is growing steadily. I don't know how far it will develop, and I don't even lose sleep over that. I believe it will grow as long as we provide value, take care of our team and our customers and stay reasonable with our finances. It will probably not be the next Facebook... but honestly, how many of those does the world need? What today's world in my view really needs is more people with valuable ideas and a real drive to improve the world to get more courageous and start their own ventures - regardless if they are women or men."
"Ideas, creativity, enthusiasm, diligence, and my inner ethical compass. These are the traits I believe I bring to any work environment. Although I don't think these have a gendered aspect. What seems to be perhaps a pinch more of a female trait is a sensitive reflection on details, with stepping back and making compromises when necessary, and going forward when the time is right."
"Once I was told by a career advisor to act in a gender-neutral way in job interviews and never to mention the fact that I am a mother of three kids because it might seem “unprofessional”. But you know what? I think that it is exactly all the sensibility, empathy, compassion, and openness that I bring to the table as a woman, as well as all the things I learned about myself while creating and nurturing three human beings that make me stand out as a professional. I love being a woman."
Anikó: "Becoming a female leader is like getting a microphone that our grandmothers couldn’t get. This microphone amplifies your fears, but it amplifies your achievements even better. It will be scary but every hard decision will worth it. You will overcome every obstacle and prove to yourself that no matter where you came from you are good enough to leave a mark."
Daniella: "I’m at the beginning of the journey of becoming a leader, and based on my experiences so far gender does not matter when you’re leading your own startup. I think the key is partnership. Find someone to develop with, inspire each other and take a seat at the table side by side."
"I have a deep inner drive to examine and work out creative solutions to make our lives better. As a woman, I think I have a more sensitive eye, and I’m grateful for it. In a before exclusively masculine dominated tech world, now women are starting to gain space bringing a more diverse, detailed and sensitive perspective to already existing solutions. It's very motivating to see the rising of the Femtech segment, now it’s time to create real solutions for real problems. With my cofounder, Dora Pelczer we are very devoted to launching Artemis, our game changer wearable technology garment that alleviates period pain and changes the way people feel about their period."
"Good leadership means independence and responsibility for me. Female leadership is no different, however, its acceptance is. More examples will bring the change on a long run. It requires braveness to bring to the table to be one of the many pioneers, it is challenging but its also fun!"