In celebration of International Women’s Day two days ago, it allowed us to put a lens on women in legal tech and the underrepresentation that still exists. Looking at the statistics, it is clear there is still a long way to go to increase the percentage of female founders and leaders in a predominantly male industry, to impact positively on upcoming entrepreneurs.
Women in legal tech globally
In Australia, just 21% of founders of legal tech companies are women. According to ALTA’s 2021 report, Diversity in Legal Tech - It’s Time for Action, this figure is reflected internationally with only Asia (30%) and Africa (25%) ahead. LinkedIn reports that of almost nineteen and a half million people in the tech industry globally, only 28% are women.
Barriers to leadership
- Funding: to start up a legal tech company, like any business, can be a costly exercise. In 2020, only 2% of funds in the world were invested into female founded startups, compared to 9% of funds invested into startups with male and female co-founders. In Australia, 19% of female founded startups were able to raise funds, compared to 50% of male founders. Equitable access to funding is lacking, impacting on how women are able to progress in the industry. Without access to this money, female-led businesses can’t be developed and grown and women remain in the minority and in positions of little influence. This is despite 35% of legal tech businesses led by women achieving higher returns on their investment.
- Work Life Balance: An OECD report into gender equality and the impact of Covid-19 found compared to men, women do up to ten times more unpaid work in the home. Talent’s report on Women in Tech showed 57% of women feel their careers are negatively impacted by responsibilities at home. It’s no wonder when women are spending more time in the workforce and more time looking after their children. Taking on leadership is not possible for many women because of such demands. This presents itself as a complex juggle, making the struggle real and eliminating many great, prospective leaders.
Why it’s important to have more women in leadership
Visible, successful women in legal tech are role models for other women in business or entering business. Like men, women have many fantastic ideas but if they are not able to push ahead and create a successful business because of the barriers, women following from behind have little support or guidance. Support networks for women are critical in allowing women to identify with other women and navigate their way through issues. More women in legal tech means more quality mentors available to help guide and develop up and coming entrepreneurs, while adding to the richness of the sector.
If more women are to be successful in the legal tech industry, changes need to be implemented that make it more equitable for women to start-up in the sector and grow their business beyond a micro-business. More women visible in the sector means greater diversity in the industry and more support available.