Amid the fortunes that have been made by some women, data suggests many in the industry still face disadvantages.
The London tech scene has made great strides in diversity in recent years, but female industry leaders say it has a mountain to climb before anything close to gender parity is on the cards.
Women tech founders and CEOs have amassed significant wealth, with the top 10 worth a combined £5 billion, an Evening Standard analysis can reveal, amid a flourishing of fresh ideas.
Women now make up more than one in 10 of the wealthiest Brits in tech, the analysis showed. Denise Coates, founder of online gambling firm Bet365, heads the list, followed by Anne Boden, who set up challenger bank Starling, and Debbie Bestwick, founder of gaming developer Team 17.
But amid the fortunes that have been made by some, data suggests many other women in the industry still face disadvantages.
An analysis of last year’s gender pay reporting data found the mean gender pay gap was 21.6% among London’s most valuable tech unicorns, significantly higher than the UK average of 13.6%, and the average bonus gap was 43.1% against a UK average of 19.3%.
The Rose Review, a report into female entrepreneurship by NatWest boss Alison Rose, found that more than a fifth of new business incorporations last year were female-led. But five in 10 female business leaders say access to funding has been difficult, compared with four in 10 men.
In America, research has found that just 2% of venture capital money goes to female-founded startups.
Alex Depledge, co-founder of architecture platform Resi, has been among those able to get funding. Last week, she secured a £3 million commitment from ITV, who plan to offer Resi the sum via advertising slots in exchange for equity.
Depledge says getting more than an initial round of funding is what’s hitting female-led tech businesses the most.
“I don’t think we have the right funding instruments for business in the UK,” she said. “There’s lots of seed funds but it’s that last cheque towards profitability that we desperately need — lots of firms run by women get stuck in this valley of death.”
London-based Melissa Di Donato, the first woman to float a billion-pound tech business on the German stock exchange, says she still faced barriers even as CEO of Suse.
“I took over a very traditional old school male-dominated, German software company, and I was brought on board to make it global and elevate the brand. I often get judged by what I say or what I look like. Can I be trustworthy… do I look trustworthy — what does looking trustworthy even mean?”
Di Donato said keeping a constant eye on diversity data has helped Suse achieve gender pay parity. “We have to stay on top of it. Every month I get reports of how many women have been promoted, how many women have left, how many men have left and how many men have been promoted.”