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Isabella Silverio on Being a Woman in Male-Dominated Startup Culture

Isabella Silverio

Did you know that only 28 percent of startups have a female founder?

While small, rest assured that it’s a number that’s about to rise steadily. According to the same report, “more women are joining startup boards and filling executive roles than in the recent past. […] we are moving in the right direction and need to seize the opportunity to expand inclusion of women—and other underrepresented individuals—across the startup ecosystem.”

It’s also worth noting that despite the modest number of women founders, they have consistently managed to make an incredible impact in their chosen industries. In fact, women-founded and co-founded startups are proven to yield 78 percent ROI per dollar spent.

Since my freshman year at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, I have been involved in over 10+ tech startups. And going into it, I knew the real value that women brought to the table. Still, being in a male-dominated industry felt intimidating and was generally challenging, especially as I tried to make my mark in my chosen field.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for me stems from expectations of women having to incorporate stereotypically “male” attributes when it comes to careers—aggressive and overly competitive. But my decade-long immersion in startups proved that embracing your femininity and staying true to yourself is the secret to finding your voice and making yourself heard.

Unfortunately, finding the confidence to do all that can be hard. In male-dominated startups, it can often feel like earning your place in the organization is a struggle. And despite your skills, training and drive to succeed, finding your voice can be more difficult than you can possibly imagine.

When I founded my consultancy back in 2017, I started it knowing that until more women found their voice and gained the confidence needed to really be heard, this would forever be a challenge we will have to face. To that end, one of the primary goals I had, when I started my company, was to empower women.

I started what was the first and only female-focused consulting firm in the entire state of Florida. My vision was to eliminate the stigma surrounding women founders, women in business, and women entrepreneurs. And not by changing their approach to business and entrepreneurship either, but rather by empowering them and building their confidence. I was given an opportunity to do this by showing them that pre-existing biases and prejudices against women’s ability to grow their ventures shouldn’t in any way affect their success; and that women are just as competent and driven, no matter what industry they choose to be in.

My process circumvents the uncomfortable pressures that women-owned businesses face—ones that people all too often, gloss over. But if my experience in startups has taught me anything, it’s that knowing how to transform these situations is the key to our success as women. We only need more women uplifting women to nurture the confidence that is already inside of us to make an indelible mark in whatever industry we choose to be in.

 

This is a guest article written by Isabella Silverio of Guava Empowerment LLC. For more info on Isabella be sure to follow her on Instagram.

Heather DeSantis is the CEO and Founder of Publicity for Good (PFG) and Good Side News. A Forbes 30 Under 30 Nominee and former Miss Ohio International, she leads the firm with a mission to partner with companies who are committed to making the world a better place. Heather has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Entrepreneur, iHeart Media, Business Insider, MSN, and Inside Edition.

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