uja panelAmanda Steinberg, founder of Daily Worth, moderated a panel last week of dynamic women in tech sponsored by UJA Federation of New York at AppNexus in New York City. When Amanda asked the group what it’s like to be a successful woman in tech, the focus turned to gender bias.

Amanda said that for most of her career she was oblivious to any bias. That is, until she was trying to raise venture capital for her company, Daily Worth. Much to her amazement, during this process, she was told, “Women aren’t really interested in money” and “Women just want to spend it.” Gender bias reared its ugly head!

I was equally amazed because a little over a decade ago when I was one of three executives seeking venture capital for a startup technology company, I faced similar issues. We were successful in raising $18 million but the process was tedious and demoralizing for me at times. I was always the only woman in the room. Once I was even approached to go out and get coffee for the group by one of the principles of a VC firm. I politely declined, extended my hand, and introduced myself as the Vice President of Sales. (I didn’t have to get the coffee.)

Apparently, not much has changed for women entrepreneurs seeking venture capital in the last ten years. Recent research backs this up.

A new report shows that though it’s competitive to get venture capital, it may be even tougher for women. Researchers found that, when presented with the same pitch for the same project, VC funders are more likely to select a project if the presenter is an attractive male. Women in the technology sector seeking capital face this prejudice. The bias is also prevalent within their industry which has been traditionally male dominated.

Not everyone agrees with the presence of gender bias in STEM fields. In January 2015, a new study in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that men are much less likely to agree with scientific evidence of gender bias in STEM than women.

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