Business ownership still a bit of a boy's club, women say

Aug 8, 2014

While more women are breaking into the ranks of corporate executives, they still face challenges getting there. Several female business owners discussed the hurdles at a forum in Syracuse.

Coding a new iPhone app doesn’t take brawn and muscle, so it’s a place tech-savvy women have just a good a change of breaking into as men.

"When it comes to the creation of products, it’s definitely less of a boy’ club. When it comes to handing out money, that boy’s club is definitely still there," said Sarah Roche, who is co-founder of a new social media platform for watching television, Platypus TV.

She says potential investors and networking opportunities skew towards men’s strengths.

"We see other startups, led by men, that are bolder, just more aggressive and more willing to be a little bit more pushy in how they deal with things," she said. "And where we’re concerned with the relationship."

Roche and her business partner attended a women in business forum hosted by Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) , getting a chance to talk with female representatives from the federal department of labor, Small Business Administration and WISE women's business center.

"Just like you can't drive a car with two wheels, we want to make sure that women have all of the resources that men do to be successful business people," Maffei said. 

They discussed special lending and mentoring opportunities for women in business. Roche and others at the forum say they sometimes have trouble being taken seriously in entrepreneurship circles and around investors.

They say it’s harder to network and convince investors they’re serious. And investors hand out money to people they feel they trust and connect with, Roche said.

"Sometimes that’s a great thing and sometimes it’s not so great. And I think that you’re starting to see investors that are female led, but they’re still few and far between," she said. "And they get of lot of female companies focusing their attention on getting them there."

A little less than a third of the Small Business Administration’s loans in central New York go to women-led companies, according to the SBA.