Startup accelerators work great for most startups. But not for female founders.
This is something I’ve intuited for years. So many experiences have driven that lesson home: The time I found myself unable to even consider most accelerators because I couldn’t afford to leave my family for three months. The time I attended a demo night and out of a dozen or so companies there was only one woman on a team slide—and her title was “Executive Assistant.” The times—and there have been many—when members of our community who are going through top accelerators themselves share their experiences with me: their struggle to fit in; their struggle to keep up with the hustle-and-play-hard environment; their struggle to fundraise despite the programs’ genuine best intentions to help them.
A study published earlier this year by the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank, confirms what I’ve long suspected. The pollsters found that all-male teams went on to raise 2.6 times more money after completing an accelerator compared to startups who do not attend a program, while female-founded teams that completed accelerators saw no uplift at all.
Accelerators have the power to be a great democratizing force in venture capital, but this promise …