Europe’s tech start-up scene has a problem: almost all of its funding is going toward men.
The report paints a bleak picture for female entrepreneurs in Europe with no progress in the data over the past five years.
“It’s clear that the European tech ecosystem has a challenge around diversity and inclusion,” Tom Wehmeier, partner and head of research at Atomico who authored the report, told CNBC last week.
Atomico’s report, which surveyed 5,000 founders, investors and tech sector employees across Europe, showed discrepancies in perception versus reality around gender discrimination. While nearly 90 percent of respondents said having a diverse team benefits company performance, nearly half of the women who responded said they had experienced discrimination while working in the European tech industry.
“I don’t know, to be honest, any friend of mine who is a founder or entrepreneur who is female who would say I never experienced this,” Tugce Bulut, founder and CEO of London-based market research start-up Streetbees, told CNBC on Thursday.
Bulut said she has experienced discrimination in a variety of forms, from inappropriate comments to dismissive behavior. She said part of the problem is that women are not encouraged to be as “pushy” as men from an early age, which can result in a lack of confidence and entrepreneurship.
“That has a snowball effect over years,” Bulut said.
Tech companies have been under increasing scrutiny in recent months for failing to address gender bias and discrimination. In November, thousands of Google employees around the world staged a walk-out to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct.
Julia Hartz is co-founder and CEO of U.S.-headquartered online ticketing platform Eventbrite. At the Slush tech conference in Helsinki this week, Hartz said one solution to the tech industry’s lack gender diversity is more outspoken female role models. Eventbrite is striving to be an example for other tech companies, with 50-50 gender representation on its board and executive team.
“I don’t think it can happen overnight, certainly, but I do think there is this ground swell that I’m starting to see not only in executive and board positions but also and most excitingly in founders,” Hartz said.