Indian startups have the potential to create two million new jobs for women by 2030 as their share in the workforce increases in comparison to the corporate sector, a new study has found.
Contrary to popular perception, women’s motivations to join startups are no different from that of men, the report revealed.
The study, Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report (WISER), found that women made up 35% of the startup workforce in 2022 compared to 19% in the corporate sector. Women-led startups perform even better in terms of gender equality, with ventures with at least one female founder having 2.5 times the number of women in sector roles as male-founded entities.
Led by Act for Women (ACT) in partnership with the Udaiti Foundation, the report demonstrates that startups provide a supportive growth environment for women through faster career progression and greater autonomy, allowing female employees to accomplish their professional goals at various stages.
The total number of recognized startups by DPIIT has grown from 6,000 in 2017 to 80,000 in 2022. The share of women-led startups in this ecosystem has grown from 10% to 18% in the same period. In legacy corporations, women hold only 5% of the founder and CEO positions.
The report surveyed around 200 startups across sectors, including unicorns like Swiggy, Zomato, Zenoti, Meesho, and Urban Company.
As per the report, 105 startups became unicorns in 2022 from 13 in 2017, out of these women-led startup unicorns increased from 8% to 17%. According to the report, venture capital funding for Indian startups was $5.9 billion in 2017, of which the share of women-led startups was 11%. By 2022, the VC funding rose to $21.9 billion, and the corresponding share of funding to women-led startups rose to 20%.
“The Indian startup ecosystem is faced with a tremendous opportunity—to play an instrumental role in making gender equity a priority and consequently a reality. Startups offer a strong proposition for India’s most talented women, whose expectations are no different than men. As they scale, leadership roles and the need for talent expand, pulling all talent up more rapidly, supporting accelerated career tracks and learning,” says Vivek Pandit, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co. The consultancy is the knowledge partner on this report.
Startups enable women to realize their personal and professional goals at multiple career stages, the report showed. More early-career women in startups join for financial independence—24%—against 14% of men. As they progress, women are drawn towards innovation—they desire to be a part of business-critical teams. This is twice as important for women in their 30s (40%) as in their 20s (20%).
Experienced women in startups want to advance their careers and break the glass ceiling, which has been a challenge in corporates. It has emerged as the single most important factor for 72% of them, it said.
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