An analysis of currently available Crunchbase data for technology-focused Australian headquartered Unicorns and Emerging Unicorns rendered some simple, yet interesting statistics. Our analysis shows having an all-female or mixed-founding team in STEM-related firms does not automatically produce gender diversity across board, advisor, and senior leadership positions. This data aligns with the extant literature on challenges relating to females in entrepreneurial STEM start-ups, and more broadly, the underrepresentation of women in STEM-related organisations. This research argues that support for gender diversity needs to start from the earliest phase of growth, rather than investing resources when the organisation becomes ‘large enough.’ This presentation lays the foundation for further research to understand what happens during early, often rapid, phases of growth in STEM start-ups that fosters or inhibits gender diversity in the future.
Michelle Keeffe is a PhD Candidate in the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Enfranchising Enterprise Signature Project. She has a Master of Business Psychology and Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Prior to commencing her studies at QUT, Michelle was working as a leadership development consultant in private industry. She began her profession career as Systems Engineer and Project Manager, working across extensive industries, clients, and locations. Her lived experiences as an engineer in male-dominant industries have been a fundamental driver in her interest and passion in gender equality in STEM-related industries.