The venture capital sector remains one of the last bastions of gender imbalance and inequality, despite the good intentions and deliberate actions of many business leaders who work within it.
Just like early capital, this bias – unconscious or otherwise – has a disproportionate downstream impact on the rest of the tech sector.
This is the uncomfortable truth in Australia just as it is in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. But it is a recognised problem, and one that in Australia at least has attracted the goodwill and vocal support of industry leaders.
Airtree Ventures founding partner Daniel Petre, business leader and serial non-executive director Diane Smith-Gander, Springboard Enterprises chair Topaz Conway and Data61 chief executive Adrian Turner have joined the advisory board for the second annual InnovationAus.com Women in VC forum in Sydney on February 27 2018.
InnovationAus.com has also unveiled the first tranche of speakers for the Women in VC forum, bringing together local and international venture finance practitioners – all focused on improving VC outcomes for boosting the participation of women in the sector and improving outcomes female founders as a goal.
- Daniel Petre, Founding Partner, Airtree Ventures
- Diane Smith-Gander, Non-Executive Director, Chief Executive Women, Wesfarmers, AGL Energy, Safe Work Australia
- Topaz Conway, Chair, Springboard Enterprises Australia
- Adrian Turner, Chief Executive Officer, Data61
- Agada Nameri, Global Portfolio Manager, iAngels (Israel)
- Kara Frederick, Managing Partner, Reinventure
- Melissa Widner, General Partner, NAB Ventures
- Katerina Kimmorley, Head of Investment Development and VC, Innovation Fund at Clean Energy Finance Corporation
- Susan Oliver, Founding Chairman, Scale Investors
- Karen Lawson, Chief Executive Officer, Slingshot
“The lack of gender diversity within the venture capital sector – and the financial services sector more generally – is a known issue, and one that has a negative impact on the rest of the tech ecosystem,” InnovationAus.com publisher Corrie McLeod said.
“This is not a ‘female problem’ for women to solve. It is an industry problem for the industry to solve. And given the VC sector is currently dominated by men, it will require male leaders in the sector to step up and drive change.”
“Creating industry strategies for boosting the number of women working in the venture capital sector will have a disproportionately positive impact on the rest of the tech ecosystem, helping not only to attract more female founders into the ranks of entrepreneurs, but also to improve economic outcomes for Australia,” she said.
“We are incredibly proud to present the Women in VC forum again in 2018 as one of our signature events, and very happy that such a storied group of leaders have agreed to participate on our Advisory Board, and to speak at the event.”
Ms McLeod said the Women in VC forum is not aimed at women. It is a pan-industry event. InnovationAus.com aims to attract equal numbers of men and women into its audience for an active conversation about change.
“In 2017, the Women in VC forum audience was made of about 85 per cent women. For some reason, men felt this was designed for women. It’s not. The Women in VC forum does not describe men as part of a problem, but rather seeks to attract men as a critical part of the solution.”
Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos used the Women in VC forum in 2017 to announce a series of policies aimed at lifting the proifile of women in tech.
Senator Sinodinos, who is currently on leave of absence from the Parliament, said he wanted to improve gender equality and diversity outcomes in Australia as a top line priority for the portfolio.