Changing the conversation around women in tech

Check your privilege, boys.

Sarah McLeod (L) and Jill Shea talk business at Volta Labs. - LENNY MULLINS
Lenny Mullins
Sarah McLeod (L) and Jill Shea talk business at Volta Labs.

While Nova Scotia seeks to expand its startup ecosystem with other like-minded folks aiming for achievement, there is a barrier that can keep some from joining in the fun.

“We’ve struggled being women in this industry,” says Sarah McLeod, of Vendeve. “This world is men investing in other men, and we’re trying to change that.”

A culture formed on the foundations of technology shouldn’t be dominated by an alpha-male presence that makes other folks who don’t fit this mould feel unwelcome, she adds.

Founder and CEO Katelyn Bourgoin, who is now at The Mill accelerator in Las Vegas, says raising funds for a female-focused product like Vendeve in a world where 96 percent of the venture capitalists are men has been challenging. “It took time to learn how to tell a story that would resonate with the broader investor community,” she says. “But there’s also an upside for us too because we know who our ideal investors are, and who they’re not.”

Dash Hudson’s Thomas Rankin says Halifax is playing a big role in changing the conversation from startup culture as a man’s world to a place better versed in diversity.

“What we’re seeing in Halifax is a lot of great companies founded by women,” Rankin says. “It’s definitely more of a struggle for women, but I think that something is starting to change. I hope what it means is that women and more under-represented people are coming to the table in the startup community.”

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