This weekend as Americans eat hot dogs, drink US-brewed beers and watch fireworks, they can be proud to be Americans for another reason -- it's the best country in the world for women entrepreneurs.
But, before we pat each other on the back too much, keep in mind that the bar is really quite low.
According to the results of Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL)'s first-ever global Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard and study released this week, the US had the highest average score across five categories Dell used to evaluate a woman entrepreneur's potential to thrive: business environments, gendered access, leadership and rights, pipeline for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial leaders.
Of the 31 countries in the study, the US was number one, followed by Canada, Australia, Sweden and the UK rounding out the top five, while Tunisia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh brought up the rear as the worst five countries for women entrepreneurs.
More than 70% of all the countries studied, however, were below 50% when it came to meeting the basic conditions women entrepreneurs need to prosper.
The score that put US in the lead was a 71.4 out of 100, or a C- if it were a grade in school. In terms of percentage of women CEOs, female senior managers and women on corporate boards, it scored a measly 1.5 out of five. The report noted that only 13% of startups with women on their executive team and 3% of startups with women CEOs received venture capital funding in 2014.
These rather dismal statistics are not all that surprising given the well-documented gender imbalance in the tech industry. The issue is twofold: Women entrepreneurs aren't getting enough recognition, resources and funding, and also there just aren't enough women entrepreneurs, in general. (See Breakfast of Champions: Women in Tech at BTE.)
Dell put out a series of recommendations to redress the balance with a focus on government policies like public-procurement contracts for women-owned businesses, initiatives for the private sector to promote women in leadership positions and provide equitable access to resources, changes in media coverage to focus on women and for individuals and investors to act as advocates. (See Vodafone: What's Good for Moms Is Good for Business and Women in Tech: People Skills Trump Tech Skills .)
"No single initiative, program or policy will level the playing field for high-impact female entrepreneurs: There is no 'silver bullet.' Therefore, a holistic approach is needed, with active engagement at all levels: from the government and corporations to the media and individuals," the report reads.
While a lot of change is needed -- and Dell makes great suggestions -- I would argue that the time is ripe for women in startups to get visibility, funding and recognition (in fact, it's the best time ever, but again, the bar was low). (See Women in Tech Coming Into Focus.)
Companies like Dell are bringing awareness to the issue and committing to do something about it through its partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation to match female entrepreneurs to mentors. Others, like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), are putting their money where their mouth is with a recent pledge to dedicate $125 million to women-led startups. And, others still -- carriers like Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) included -- are making it a point to recruit talented women and encourage diversity on their teams. The tide is slowly starting to change. (See Calling All Women Startups! Intel Wants to Give You Money and New Cisco Leadership Favors Diversity.)
Leading the pack in Dell's study is a bragging point for the US, but bumping that C- up to an A+ will be the real badge of honor.
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading