Leveling the playing field for women in the startup ecosystem

India’s startup ecosystem has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, and a number of women leaders have emerged during this period at the helm of pioneering and highly successful companies.

And yet, a series of stubborn obstacles stand in the way. The result: the number of women entrepreneurs in the country remains abysmally low.

Some of these issues, such as self-doubt and a lack of work-life balance, were central in a panel discussion with Mabel Chacko, co-founder and COO of Open Technologies, and Priyanka Gill, co-founder of The Good Glamm Group. , at TechSparks 2022, the 13th edition of your history flagship annual event.

We keep questioning whether we are the right people to do (something),” Mabel said in a conversation with Jarshad NK, editor-in-chief of Your history. “It’s encouraging that things have changed in recent years.”

Priyanka added that these issues were systemic and needed to be addressed at the grassroots level.

“If you look at a Standard XI classroom, how many girls choose STEM subjects like Math or Science? That’s where a lot of our tech entrepreneurs come from,” she said. “Do fathers in family businesses talk to their daughters at the table? I think women don’t have the same access to networks that men do.”

A multi-pronged approach should be used to attract more women into entrepreneurship, as well as encourage more women to enter the fields of science and business, she said. “Signage really matters. Until there is equality, we have to make a huge effort.”

Work-life balance

According to Mabel, if you are an entrepreneur, whether you are a man or a woman, work is equal to life. However, being a female entrepreneur is especially difficult, because there is a family to come back to and take care of, as well as running a business.

“To be an entrepreneur, you have to make tough decisions, go through failures, have the courage to start over, listen to that mistake, and move on. Of course, in all of these, work-life balance is affected,” he said.

When the whole team is looking at you, and even if you feel down, you have to put on a poker face and get over it, Mabel said, adding that her co-founder Deena Jacob returned to work just 15 days after giving birth to close a round of fundraising.

Priyanka believes that work-life balance is a myth and does not subscribe to its existence.

“I think I find balance in everything I do throughout the day,” he said. “When I get home, I stop being an entrepreneur for a while. I think I share my life very well. I went back to work shortly after having a child. But that’s not applying the same pressure to other women. Its my choice.”

Fight self-doubt

About the doubt, Mabel said that it comes “with an incredible sixth sense that women have, it is what helps you navigate through the biggest problems. Eventually, you learn when to listen to it and when to silence it.”

For her, there are several unanswered questions: Am I the right person to do the job? Should I have a co-founder? How am I going to handle it all?

“Self-doubt may be a bit more apparent in women, although all entrepreneurs are affected by it. Doubt shows that you are thinking. The biggest problem with women is that we tend to underestimate ourselves,” said Mabel.

When asked if the hiring of women could be affected by the looming recession, Priyanka said that the correlation between the two is incorrect. “Every entrepreneur must hold on to his values. That will help you in difficult times.”

Techsparks 2022 GIF