“I would not be caught dead in a pink suit now,” says Susan Perry, the founder of SpeechMED, a startup that translates complex medical information into language patients can understand.
Clothing is just one of the issues Perry has reconsidered when it comes to how she pitches her business. As a middle-aged woman, she has faced bias because she doesn’t fit the stereotype of what an entrepreneur looks like. Raised to be soft-spoken, Perry now makes a conscious effort to lower her voice, plant her feet firmly, and speak directly. When she gets one of the tough, defensive, “prevention-oriented” questions that women entrepreneurs tend to receive from investors, she redirects and instead offers a bold and expansive vision for her company, more in the style of how a man might answer.
Perry’s transition to a more gender-neutral, or even masculine, pitching style seems to be working. Her company completed the Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab at Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, was accepted into the gener8tor accelerator program, and is currently gearing up to pitch dozens of investors. Most importantly, she now feels confident about her pitch and her ability to raise money.
We know that women entrepreneurs face significant challenges securing funding from investors. Our research found that only 15% of companies receiving venture capital investment have a woman on their executive team and less than 3% have a woman CEO. Perry’s experiences — and my own years of research on gender and funding — help explain why…
Read the full article online at Harvard Business Review.