Last week, a memo written by a Google employee sparked heated discussion among media outlets and tech companies not just in Silicon Valley but beyond. The company-wide memo where he stated reasons why women are not suitable for the tech industry was leaked to the public, causing an uproar and eventually resulting in the author losing his employment with Google.
In China, many investors and startup founders think that women entrepreneurs should be supported in full force.
The afternoon of August 13 marked the kick-off of a tech contest, She Loves Tech, by a leading women-entrepreneurs support group in Beijing. The opening remarks centered around the importance of increased investment in and support of women, especially in the tech industry.
Founded by Lean In China, She Loves Tech provides a platform for international and Chinese tech companies, investors and entrepreneurs to promote technology for women and women in technology.
Investors from well-known VCs were invited as judges to select the most promising startups participating in the contest. The investors include Liu Sirius, investment director of Plug & Play; Li Jinwen, director of 36Kr; Sun Lulu, investment manager of Zhen Fund; and others.
In China, there is a cliche that some investors have publicly said that they prefer to invest in male entrepreneurs. At a panel discussion on the subject, Sun from ZhenFund said that investing in women entrepreneurs is worthwhile. She continued by giving examples of many successful cases where ZhenFund has invested in companies led by women entrepreneurs, such as their involvement with Mia.com, a Chinese leading e-commerce startup for children products founded by Liu Nan.
Li from 36Kr added that women entrepreneurs are more attentive, stating “women know better how to take care of the emotion of the team”. She gave the example of Peng Lei, CEO of Ant Financial. Peng is a sensitive leader who takes good care of the staff’s emotional needs. This gives her powerful strength in managing her team, and thus, enabling them to reach their full potential. As per Li, “ there should be a woman leader to support the team.”
Women entrepreneurs can, undoubtedly, be great leaders. Out of all the startups who pitched their projects to investors at the contest, one particular startup stood out. Nainiumama.com is a startup founded by a mother, Nie Weiwei, that focuses on care for mothers. After discovering that there was a huge gap to fill for better mother-centered care in China, Wei decided to address the demand. The startup provides online-to-offline services on professional puerperal care, health management and other services to pregnant women and users who are already mothers. In July 2016, the startup attracted millions of US dollars for pre-Series A funding round from a group of investors.
In fact, more women entrepreneurs are emerging out of China. At She Era, a forum on women in July, Jack Ma, founder of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, said that about 34% of the managers at Alibaba are women. Ma is a vocal supporter of women, stating at a United Nations forum in April, “there should be more women leaders in this era.”
From She Loves Tech to She Era, more public discussions on supporting women entrepreneurs are emerging in China.