The Gender Gap in Startup Catalyst Organizations: Bridging the Divide between Narrative and Reality
24 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 5, 2016
The startup industry has matured rapidly over the past decade, becoming a subject of substantial interest to the business community, academics, and the general public alike. Yet, the set of organizations that has sprouted up around the startup industry – dedicated to supporting the growth of fledgling ventures – has received less attention. Divided roughly into the three categories of co-working spaces, incubators, and accelerators, these support organizations all aim to “catalyze” the success of new startups. Thus, we have coined the term “Catalyst” to refer to them collectively. In the present study, we used a qualitative interview method to obtain a more comprehensive picture of how Catalysts have impacted the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In particular, we found a discrepancy between the narrative propagated by Catalyst personnel and the actual data when it came to the issue of gender. While respondents described a collaborative, open environment cultivated by Catalysts that should be particularly advantageous to women, we found that the stark gender disparity observed in the startup and technology realms in general was maintained in the Catalyst microcosm. We speculate as to possible reasons behind this disconnect between narrative and reality, and suggest policy approaches for alleviating the gender gap in the Catalyst participant population.
Keywords: Startups, Catalysts, Co-Working Spaces, Incubators, Accelerators, Gender, Women, Entrepreneurship, Technology
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