Female check-writers alone aren’t enough to close the female fundraising gap, data shows

Episode Summary

This week, Natasha interviewed Kaisa Snellman, an economic sociologist and an associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Academic Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative. (We know, we know, it's a flex.) We talked about Kaisa’s recent Harvard Business Review piece with Isabelle Solal: For Female Founders, Fundraising Only from Female VCs Comes at a Cost. 

Episode Notes

Hello, and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.

This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single person, think about their work and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha interviewed Kaisa Snellman, an economic sociologist and an associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Academic Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative. We know, we know, it's a flex.

We’re going to talk about: Kaisa’s recent Harvard Business Review piece with Isabelle Solal: For Female Founders, Fundraising Only from Female VCs Comes at a Cost. The duo's research asserts that women-led startups whose first round was raised exclusively from female VCs were 2x less likely to raise a second round regardless of initial funding round size, industry, geographic location, or prestige of the investor.

Listen to the whole conversation before you jump to conclusions, but let's just say that this conversation really got into the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.

The data is both revolutionary, and provocative.

Here's what we got into:

Equity will be back on Friday with a familiar voice you may be missing, but you can keep up with us in the meantime on Twitter @EquityPod.

For episode transcripts and more, head to Equity's Simplecast website

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Episode Transcription

Natasha Mascarenhas  0:11  

Hello and welcome back to equity, a podcast about the business of startups where we unpack the numbers and nuance Behind the Headlines. I'm Natasha Mascarenhas. And this is our Wednesday show where we niched down to a single person, think about their work and unpack the rest. Today, we are going all the way to France and talking to Kaisa Snellman an economic sociologist and an associate professor of organizational behavior and Academic Director of the INSEAD gender initiative, Kaisa, welcome to the show.


Kaisa Snellman  0:38  

Thank you, Natasha. That's a mouthful my title.


Natasha Mascarenhas  0:44  

Well, I always say I love interviewing professors, for so many reasons. But I think one is like they are the most I don't know, they always would have been the most fun interviews, because they have like, I think they have less of a filter, so no pressure, but I'm amped for today's episode, I feel like you have such a unique vantage point. And I've clearly been all over the world, in the world of research.


Kaisa Snellman  1:04  

I think this is because we're surrounded by students. And you know, you have to keep her classroom of 80 MBA students engaged and awake, you know, I'm point so we sort of, we say things


Natasha Mascarenhas  1:17  

like, the passion mix with like, I'm sure you get a lot of feedback. But before we get into today's episode, I mean, I'll tell you what we're going to talk about, we're gonna talk about your recent Harvard Business Review piece that you co wrote with Isabelle slaw, and it's all about female founders fundraising. And if raising from female VCs comes at a cost for them, we're also going to talk about the importance of funding over mentorship and where we're seeing success for female founders in the tech space. But before everything, I love to start off with why someone is an expert in this category, and just based on the topic we're talking about today, you literally fit our motto at equity, which is the numbers and nuance behind the headlines, how did you find yourself working on the numbers and nuance as your entire job.


Kaisa Snellman  2:00  

So a lot of my research focuses on things that are based on sort of the motto of like, good intentions don't always make great policies. So whenever girl is seeing like interventions that are more sort of based on passion and say, like, Oh, this is the problem, and this is the way to fix it. I'm the type of social scientist that goes in there, like, wait a minute, is there actually evidence that this is going to move the needle, or in some cases, like maybe there are some unintended consequences of whatever intervention it is that we have in mind, that are not necessarily good consequences. And this piece is exactly like one of those, like, there's research that sort of hints that like applying a gender lens, to or framing something like this in a in a gendered way is not going to be helpful. And we can talk about that in a minute. But it's sort of like goes into the broader line of research that, you know, we're just sometimes very quick on jumping into, you know, interventions before, like, testing them in practice, or looking at numbers.


Natasha Mascarenhas  2:59  

Tech loves generalizations, and I love generalizations because they're easy to hook on to, and they give us like direction, but finding someone who's checking into those assumptions is really helpful. And it sounds like you're good at being devil's advocate in a way and always see the other side of maybe some of those assumptions.


Kaisa Snellman  3:14  

And this research that are like combines like two worlds of mind. So I lived in Silicon Valley for 11 years surrounded by entrepreneurs, I went to grad school at Stanford, where everybody you know, lives and breathes entrepreneurship, like you can, you know, walk across campus from a library to another one without overhearing, you know, people like practicing their pitches. And when you take a ride, you know, you're more likely to run over a couple of VCs on the way home than not. So you sort of like you're surrounded by that air, but research wise, like I do a little work on the inequality, whether it's based on gender, or race or social class. So this particular piece sort of combines the two worlds of, you know, gender inequality and entrepreneurship.


Natasha Mascarenhas  3:54  

Yeah, so let's yeah, let's get right into it. So the piece, the headline, I think, sums it up perfectly. It's quote, for female founders, fundraising only from female VCs comes at a cost it was published earlier this month. And I mean, what a way to kick off the year. And I want to start with what inspired the research to begin with, and then we'll get into the numbers. Sure.


Kaisa Snellman  4:13  

So this is joint work with my former graduate student, Isabelle Solal, who's now an assistant professor at ESSEC. And very much sort of, like, aligns like both of our research interests. And one of the things that we noticed, like when looking at gender gaps in entrepreneurship is like the same mantras like, oh, female founded companies only get 2% of the venture capital out there, right? We've been seeing the same numbers, like sometimes, you know, there's a little bit of a movement in the needle, and then next year, it comes back, but it's been pretty stagnant. So it's no wonder that then we come up with this sort of, you know, policy interventions or suggestions like how to actually solve the problem. And then one thing that struck us is like, we kept hearing over and over again, it's like, it's a women's problem only, like if we had more female VCs like the problem would be Go away.


Natasha Mascarenhas  5:00  

Totally. I mean, there's a nonprofit around that, like, you know, All Raise is a nonprofit that's out there, I'm sure you've heard of them. And their whole thing is, let's increase the number of female tech writers in the ecosystem that will have this trickle down effect. It sounds like you looked into if that actually makes a difference.


Kaisa Snellman  5:14  

So and by no means am I like against, like getting more women on around the on that side of the table as well, because women are underrepresented on both sides totally. But then what sort of like as a potentially harmful message? Is it only women who should be, you know, financing female product firms, or, you know, like, if you're a VC firm, let's stick the female partner in front of the female entrepreneurs as if one of the guys couldn't do it. And this sort of came up in many times in our interviews, like, you have the one female partner in the firm, she's like, well, I have to take care of the women. It was such a weird, like gendered sort of a solution that didn't start great. And as somebody who was coming from sociology, studies on affirmative action, and education or something that, you know, sociologists have been obsessing about for decades. And in that line of work, it's a well known fact that, you know, the one side of any type of affirmative action program is that it makes us look at the candidates differently. So even though somebody has gotten into a school with their credentials, if we know that there is an affirmative action, people sort of start to automatically assume that they weren't as good as the other candidates that the only reason that they got in is that because they'd benefited from the affirmative action program.


Natasha Mascarenhas  6:34  

The diversity hire or student or accepting the diversity


Kaisa Snellman  6:37  

hire, or whatever bar you sort of adjust, like, do we need, you know, whether it's race or social class, or whatever it is, like, pick your dimension, right. But that is well known facts in sociology and psychology, that affirmative action sort of changes, like reframed our thinking. And as we were sort of hearing the stories about like, oh, we need more women who only invest in women, or, you know, we heard this advice being given to female entrepreneurs, like, oh, you should go and talk to a female VC instead of a male VC, because they are more likely to invest in you, we sort of started to see the same theme repeat. Yeah. Which is like we're giving a phenomenon a different reason. Why not like say, like, Oh, we're investing in you, because your ideas great. When we see this, like advice, giving, like, oh, like women should be helping other women out, or it's like sisters investing in sisters, that stuff changes the narrative that we usually hear around successful pitches, right?


Natasha Mascarenhas  7:38  

What got you to starting, you know, what grew to then 2000 venture backed companies, what were you looking for when you were talking to that, you know, massive group of startups?


Kaisa Snellman  7:45  

So the first idea was, like, you know, like, we have a hunch, like, we know that this is the way that it works in other settings, like education, but like, we would not be any better than the the people that we're currently sizing. We actually didn't have hard data on it. One of our sort of early ideas was like, oh, maybe we'll look at funds, not VCs, okay. But at that time, like we didn't have that many funds, working on gendered, gendered investment strategy. So then we decided to move this to the VC partner level. And then we thought, like, let's just like, take the most of the broadest possible sweep we can find. And we went through CrunchBase identified startups in the US and went through, like their characteristics, and then investors. And that's sort of how we built the sample of the 2000-something firms that we followed up, we slice and dice the data in different ways, like so we categorize female founded firms as firms that had a female founder, we also run the same numbers, looking at firms that had a female CEO, or only female founded firms. And obviously, there are very few of those firms that are have only female founders, and only female VC. So that's why we kept the definition broader, which is sort of in line with how we usually talk about female-founded for meaning: They're the non all male counterparts.


Natasha Mascarenhas  9:04  

I'm like, I almost want to jump to like all the ways this makes me feel but we'll stick with it. I'm so curious how this was received. But before that the high level number or the stat that's stuck in my mind is, eventually you found that women led firms whose first round was raised exclusively from female VCs were 2x less likely to raise a second round, regardless of initial funding, round size, industry, geographic location, or even the prestige of the investor. And I mean, that is like really darn jarring to read. And I wanted to hear more about how you prove to like how we knew it was because you know, female VCs versus a coincidence versus I mean, there's, there's so many factors in play, but it sounds like you kept doing some experimentation after


Kaisa Snellman  9:48  

Sure. So like when it comes to observational data, like these are always the questions like, you know, yeah, we don't know like, what was causing what so the only thing that we're observing our association so that was our first time ask us to see like, are these associations true? So for what really struck us a big finding was that it's not the female VCs. So when we compare male founded firms, for them, it doesn't matter is the first run investor, a male or a female VC. So we can sort of rule out the possibility that all female VCs are somehow worse at picking investments than male VCs, because that's not true for male-founded firms. So we had a long list of like, potential problems with the analysis. So the female VC was one of them. Then we thought, like, oh, well, maybe they just like operate in very different types of industries. So then we constructed a sample of 540 firms that were identical in terms of the industries that they were operating in their geographical location, the fact that they had patents or not. So we tried to like find a matched samples like a synthetic twin for each of our female product firms. So we picked all of the female firms, and then we found a twin. For them, the only difference being is that they did not have any female founders in the firm. And then we compared those two samples. And so that way, we could sort of rule out that it's because female founded firms are somehow inherently really different in terms of what they do. I mean, they can be, but like, when we narrowed it down to these, like identical firms, we still find the effect.


Natasha Mascarenhas  11:22  

Got it. And going back to the point you made where before on like, Yes, I'm sure someone who reads the story, or maybe just the headline, could make the lazy assumption that it's because female founders are bad at their job. So how did you again, try and combat that belief


Kaisa Snellman  11:35  

to the way that we thought about, it's like, if it this, this is never like a real hypothesis for us. But for, you know, a nasty critic, it could be that this is somehow evidence of female VCs, not knowing how to pick winners, because when male founded firms have a female VC, their odds of getting a second round of funding is exactly the same as male founded firms when they have a male VC. So that sort of like told us, it's not because of a female VC, it is something about the combo. So when we look at all of the other combos, so may have funded firm with a male VC only, or a female only, or a mixed team, all of these are identical in terms of their chances of getting a second round. Yeah, got it. When we look at female founders, firms, again, like they do just as well as male founded firms, as long as they have at least one male investor in their first initial round. So whether it's just male VCs or a mixed team, their chances are not any different from male founded firms. And for us, that was sort of, you know, good news. Like, we can also say, like all women founders struggle, no, they don't, right, the only combo where they struggle is when it's a female founded firm with an only female investor during their first round.


Natasha Mascarenhas  12:52  

Got it? Okay, I definitely follow that. I think like, one idea that I had, when, as you're explaining that was like, Yeah, I've interviewed a ton of VCs over the past, I guess, like 12 months, really, that were petitioning for their founders to focus on having a more diverse cap table. And I realized that you're saying it's exclusively from female VCs that have shown in the data that there's a disadvantage in the next round. But I am now wondering how that squares up with what you're saying, because I think there has been this push to get more diverse cap tables, and one does that come at a cost is definitely like that evergreen question that you're looking into?


Kaisa Snellman  13:26  

Yeah. So the diverse cap table for us, like seems to be like people who say the fix. So if you're a female founded firm, and you have a diverse cap table, you're set, just as you are, if you are a male foreigner term,


Natasha Mascarenhas  13:39  

Oh, that makes me so happy. So


Kaisa Snellman  13:42  

one problem we still have in our with this with this analysis is that we're so we ruled out it's not the female VCs were bad at picking, you know, investments. It's not the female founders who are bad at like coming up with ideas. But this is sort of like, you know, being our own devil's advocate, it's like, well, if the female VCs lower the bar for female audit firms, which they could, then it would not be a surprise that they would have a harder time raising more money if the business idea wasn't as good to begin with. Sure. And this is the problem, like when we're looking at observational data from archives, like, We're not the ones who are controlling for quality and quality is really, really hard to measure. I mean, it's hard for us, and it's really hard for the VC. So when you have, you know, an early stage company with 10 PowerPoint slides and no sales, how do we really estimate quality, right? So for that, we decided to run an experiment that would then allow us to control everything, including the quality of the pitch. So this is sort of like the second stage of our research. Yeah, where we decided that the only way to really make sure that it is not that the female investors are lowering the bar when it comes to funding female founder firms is by presenting identical pitches. So what we did is we recorded a pitch presentation. It wasn't The identical pitch, the only thing that we changed was the voice of the narrative and the gender of the investor. So they presented the same idea, like roughly two minutes following instead of a standard pitch. And we either had a male voice and the entrepreneur or the founder. And then there was one slide where they said that they already had received a seed round of investing from a investor. And then it had either a male or a female picture and a name. Yeah. And then we asked this, we did this, like with a sample of MBA students, we did this with people from walking on the street. And we did this with a sample of investors. So we repeated the experiment with multiple different samples. But in all of these samples, what we find is that when the female founder had a male investor, the pitch was rated, absolutely identical in terms of quality. So we asked them about the viability of the business and so on, as in the in the male product firms. And the competence of the female founder was identical to the male founder, except in the condition where the female founder was backed by female VC. So in that condition, when a female founder had received money from a female investor, all of the participants are MBA students. And our investors felt that that business idea with a little bit lower quality compared to the other, when it's the same idea. Knowing it's the same pitch insane.


Natasha Mascarenhas  16:22  

This is like, to me, this was like where my jaw dropped when I was reading the story, which is like, the People's listening to the same pitch, but just the difference of it being led by a female investor is what made it seem lesser quality. I think that is like the proof that you're exactly looking for.


Kaisa Snellman  16:39  

Yeah, so then it's not the quality that is different. Because it's you know, we're controlling for quality. So then it's something about our biases, the way that our psychology works, that isn't in play, which is, on the one hand, like, you know, this is nice when you're able to isolate the effects. So Isabelle and I have this like routine, like when we're looking at our finances, we go yay, and then no, because, you know, reality is like this sucks, right? So it's great that you have a reason, but it's still bad.


Natasha Mascarenhas  17:06  

Right. Well, I think like, as you kind of started off explaining this research was somewhat triggered by the idea that it was looked at as a solution for so long still today that more female investors will lead to an increase in female founded companies getting fundraising. And so I feel like this is like revolutionary to be saying out loud, even if it is bad news, I think it's just like, it goes back to something I you know, when I talk to female VC, sometimes they'll tell me, but mostly off the record will, they'll be like, listen, it's not my job to bring diversity to the table. Like, why is that something that my male counterparts are not being asked to do? Like, why do I have to do even more work than my counterparts? And I feel like I mean, there's so much there, but it just makes me think a little bit deeper about the numbers and nuance behind that.


Kaisa Snellman  17:51  

Yeah, this person comes with entrepreneurs, like multiple, you know, female founders, who we talked to, like they said, like, you know, I'm really skeptical receiving any 'pink money' because I'm a founder, I'm an engineer, I'm a scientist, I'm not a girl. Right? I'm not like the identity they want to lead with which the little bit like when, you know, Marissa Meyer was saying, like, I'm not a girl at Google. I'm an engineering at Google, like, you know, see me. Like me. you know, people have like, multiple sides to their identities for like, complicated, you know, prisms, like we all have, like different sides. But what is the side that you want to sort of showcase to the world? Yeah, right, that should sort of be up to us, like, do you want to be seen as a journalist? Do you want to be seen as a woman, you know, are you a mother or a daughter, like, the thing that you know about this, like gender sort of investment strategies hits those, it's like, you're sort of being pigeon holed, you don't have a choice, like you have to be the female founder, you're not just a founder.


Natasha Mascarenhas  18:44  

I think the area that like I'll push back, or at least something I think about a lot is like these diversity focused funds or investment vehicles after George Floyd was murdered, we saw a lot of, I don't say a lot, but we saw capital dedicated towards solely investing in black founders. And I know it's a different conversation than female founders. But I've also seen explicitly female founded only VC firms. And I guess I wonder what you think about the funds that exist only to back diverse founders in any kind of flavor that we can pick, whether it's race, whether it's gender, whether it's background, and if those are helping or hurting, because maybe it's a separate study, but I just don't know, I think I'm wondering if those are hurting more than helping.


Kaisa Snellman  19:27  

So I think it's a little bit more complicated and nuanced, you know, to bring them back to your theme word. Your favorite word, is that, you know, the fact that the money is there, and it's earmarked and the slitted. You know, that's a good thing, right? Like, that means that you know, there will be a pool of resources that is going to go to the right address that is addressing a problem, right, but then we do still have a choice of how we talk about this. It's the same thing as with like, affirmative action or board quotas. Like I've also done some research on gender quotas in corporate boards, and sometimes female directors say, like, you know, I'd rather pick a board that didn't have a quota, because then everyone knows that I've been chosen because, you know, I kick ass, you know, like, I'm really, really good at what I do. I'm an industry expert, and not chosen because of my gender. Yeah. And they are the same person, but they just they're seen differently. And we see the same phenomena, like if we show people a press release, where we say a company has nominated a female director, and then we just like have the bio, and then we say, company increases board diversity. And then it's the same press release with the same bio. And then we ask people about how competent Do you think this person is? You can guess what the result is? Right? Like, so the the version of the press release that mentions increasing diversity, makes people think that the female director is not as competent as she is, does the same phenomena. So with these funds that are targeted in the earmarked or underrepresented groups, they're the great thing, but maybe they don't have to be framed and sold at this.


Natasha Mascarenhas  20:58  

It could just be a fun that exists. And it doesn't need to be Yeah, explicitly. But then the question is, you know, how do you help a historically underestimated group have an on ramp into this very exclusive world? Sometimes it's being really loud, saying, Hey, I'm investing in you. But I mean, I think that's exactly why your story resonated with me so much, because there's like the unintended consequences of getting capital from something that's trying to do a good job.


Kaisa Snellman  21:20  

So you're sort of like now getting to the meat of the thing, which is like, you know, what is actually causing the problem? And is there a better way of solving like, are we not just like putting a bandaid on the symptom? Are we really like addressing the thing that is causing us bleed? So for me, like, the way to like really address these biases is by asking, like, how are VCs making decisions in the first place? How do they you know look for the opportunities, just like, focus on your own little social networks? Do you always go to the same school? We know that, you know, VC funds are very sort of geographically very limited, like it's a biking distance from, you know, the center of Palo Alto, where you know, most of the deals are made. So maybe that's the problem, maybe the way that investments are made, there's just a fundamental problem embedded in that system. We know that when ambiguity is high, like it is, but early stage investments, like we don't have a lot of data to go on. But maybe there is a way of like getting at these biases by asking the same questions. We know from other people's research that male and female founders are asked different types of questions.


Natasha Mascarenhas  22:24  

Yeah, yeah, totally. It's making me actually think about like, I covered a VC firm the only invest based off of data, like they don't look anything other than the data of how many - it's Angellist venture fund, they invest based on how many job applications a certain startup gets from hopeful recruits, which I'm sure it's imperfect in a bunch of ways. But I'm waiting to be surprised by someone to your point completely turning this process and early stage, especially on Yeah, on its head. Yeah. And so how did they do so at the time where it started, which was last year. So he said, the data driven approach has led to a greater diversity of the startups both in mission and founder, the creator of the fund estimates that about half of the founders within the funds portfolio, identify as women, they haven't invested in a ton of companies at that point, like, we don't know how many, but 50% is much higher than the very embarrassing percent that we see in most VC firms. So I mean, it's like the inkling of what you described. Yeah.


Kaisa Snellman  23:19  

So focusing on sort of, you know, tangible measures and metrics, yes. Instead of like, looking at the people like, Are these people who know people who we know or like, from, What school did they graduate from. So anything that is sort of too easy to use as a sort of first round, you know, heuristic is probably going to lead to more bias. So focusing on something tangible, even if it's a little bit creative, like the one that you, you just said is probably helping a much better solution than the saying like, Okay, we're going to be a fund that the only invest in women, because that's going to pay the company's, you know,


Natasha Mascarenhas  23:53  

let's get on the takeaway train for yourself. And I want to hear how female VCs reacted to your story. And even really, what the takeaway is for them. Because if I was a female VC, and I was reading this, I could see it hurting my feelings, of course, that maybe my very correct and valid investments in female founders might be hurting them down the road, not your fault. But how was it received? And what's the takeaway there?


Kaisa Snellman  24:17  

So most female VCs have a pretty thick skin, they wouldn't be in this, this business. And these, these women are like, they're really, you know, they're smart professionals. And they exactly have the same experience. So obviously, there's going to be somebody super, super passionate about like, and thinking that they're doing the right thing, right. You know, they sort of like want to believe in the mantra they're saying, but like, I would say, like 99% of the conversations that we've had with female VCs, like before the piece came out or after the piece came out have been nothing but positive. And they say like, you know, this really resonates and this is why we are trying to have a more diverse cap table. That's awesome. Also, from the point of view that all of the female VCs, we have been How can with like, the funds that they manage are fairly small, like they can't like, lead to a larger round, like they can do you know, pre seed or seed, but anything after that, like they just don't have the funds. So they know that to sort of like prepare the startups that they're, you know, investing into the big rounds, it's better to bring other investors of the earliest age. Got it. So I don't think we're saying like, you know, female investors are the problem. It's the very narrow cap table. That is the problem.


Natasha Mascarenhas  25:29  

I kind of wrote, I wrote my notes, I was like, why can't we just say that men are the problem? And I think you just answered it, which is like, it's actually not either or I think it has to be, it has to be both both investing in everything.


Kaisa Snellman  25:40  

Yeah, it's the absence of men. That's the problem. It's not the women that are being the problem. So I'm, like, turn it upside down to like, know, for any female investors out there and say, like, I'm having a problem? No, it's the absence of men. So the question is, like, Why aren't the men at the table? Because we know that when the men arrived, then, you know, the problem, you know, goes away?


Natasha Mascarenhas  25:59  

Is the takeaway for female founders who maybe are listening to this episode, and are finding themselves resonate more with female VCs: What's the best mode of action? Next? Is it just asking your VC to introduce you to more diverse people? I just imagine it's an awkward conversation at times, but clearly an important one to be having.


Kaisa Snellman  26:18  

Well, if this sort of gives anybody the impetus to actually have a conversation, I say, you know, we, our job is done. Yeah, yeah. Because that's a conversation that anyone should be having anyway, like, why it's a fairly risky thing to just to limit yourself to any one investor anyway, like, and how to choose, right? So if you are being pushed by your investor, just to you know, turned on anybody else, that's probably like a red flag. And that has nothing to do with gender. So to sort of have that discussion about who should be at the table is one that one should be having anyway.


Natasha Mascarenhas  26:51  

Yeah. And I think it's on like, the female founders, too. I'm working on a piece right now about how female VCs are often exclusively pitch from female founders working on issues that women specifically face. And it's kind of like the self, you know, you're self limiting yourself. And I know that female VCs aren't happy about it, either. They're like, Hey, I don't need to just talk to you about Hormonal Health, I don't need to just talk to you, because you're a female founder. You know, in some ways, it's like we see the bias happen even in this like, as you once described like this, like sister a sister thing. It's sometimes over indexed on and I think it has frustrated female VCs as well. Oh, yeah.


Kaisa Snellman  27:26  

So you can have a firm where you have five partners, and then you have you know, a female founder, Marchin. And then it's like, oh, well, you take her because you're a female, you get like, a might be completely outside your sort of industry experience, and expertise. So there's more to this than gender. So like, we should sort of park that, and a focus on the ideas and the expertise that we have. There's that, you know, gender is is like one of these things that you know, affects us but like to go back to the What else do we bring in them, and then money, but this is sort of like where the the mentoring part comes in. And why I actually do think that having a diverse cap table is really, really great, because there's also research that shows that whether we're talking about female students or female professionals, having a female mentor gives you some sort of emotional support that having a male mentor might not give you. There are some topics that are just like easier to discuss with a with another woman, you can apply sort of like say, like, you know, I'm experiencing this, like, am I being crazy? Or like, am I being reasonable? And there are some things that you just you just want to have another, you know, a female understanding. But this is like Why You Should we should not limit ourselves to having whether we're talking about you know, VCs or mentors or sponsors in the in the organization, like have both.


Natasha Mascarenhas  28:42  

I think that's such a good way to put it. I think in a world where we're like consuming things by tweets or headlines, it's like very easy to be like, Okay, well, now I need to just change all my sources and change my whole network and only talk to male VCs. But I think there's, as you said, such a power and having both, which shouldn't be as complicated, but it is like, I think there is like kind of this like, want to pick either or, or to pick the diverse if you are diverse. You know, I myself love interviewing women a lot. I feel so comfortable with them. But is that going to give me a full perspective on things? No, probably not.


Kaisa Snellman  29:14  

No, but the best perspective.


Natasha Mascarenhas  29:17  

Exactly. Let me end with one last question before we get to the lightning round. Yeah. To put you on the spot a little bit. Are there any dream? What's the follow on research here? Are there any like dream data dives that you're thinking about working on as we speak, I don't think this way at all. So that's why I'm like, selfishly, like where do you go from here when you're doing research? So


Kaisa Snellman  29:36  

sort of to continue the theme of female entrepreneurs and female VCs? One of the ideas that Isabelle and I've been sort of kicking around and talking about is to look at their networks. So not just sort of the money that follows but like, and this is actually like, one of the big ideas Isabelle had like when she was doing her PhD, is that having, you know, women investing in women could then sort of lead in to these 'pink silos' as she calls it, like, where the only networks that you have are from, like through your VC. So if you have a VC who are only investing in women, so all of the firms in the portfolio are female bunch of companies that makes your world you know, segregated, like you're not part of the larger ecosystem. So it would be really cool and interesting to see. Like, I don't think that we are there yet. Because, you know, this is something that thank goodness, like the numbers are fairly small, where we see these, like female firms only being honored by female VCs. But if that be the case, so this is something that in the dream world, like we're add resources and data are unlimited, it will be really, really cool to study like, what are the consequences besides just money? Like, do you get in theory, you know, legal help all your viewer connections just to other women? Like, what about your clients? Yeah, it's hiring harder, like all of the other questions that sort of follow.


Natasha Mascarenhas  30:55  

Okay. Very interesting. I would please come back on the show, whenever you come to any conclusion, even when I hear the phrase pink silo, and even like, it sits with me wrong, not because of of your fault, but just because of like, it's hard to like, want to combat a gendered problem with a non gendered solution. And a part of me to be aspirational and naive is like, I wish we didn't have to think about the pinkwashing that happens, right? Like, I wish that that wasn't even part of the conversation, because it does then reinforce the idea that female VCs are female first. Not our fault. But you know, just saying it out loud. Yeah, so


Kaisa Snellman  31:34  

I think this is like one of those topics, like where we just need to get more on board, like, you know, the moment that they step in, and start saying, like, this is our problem, too, like, and sort of take the step to the champion, so that it's not just a women's movement, the sisters helping sisters like that, I think that, you know, we're then sort of shifting the conversation to the actual program. Yeah, totally. And this is something that we see like in organizations that are going through like different diversity and inclusion efforts, as long as it's just in the hands of women, it stays a woman's problem. But when men join the movement, it becomes, you know, a problem of the whole organization. So you do need like both sides, not to sort of pitting Dubai in the sides, you know, against each other. But like, you know, you need both men and women tackling these issues so that it gets the right, momentum and the right type of profile as a


Natasha Mascarenhas  32:26  

promo. Totally. Well, you are now officially a source for me going. Thank you so much. A pleasure. Well, that was a really quick lightning round. Okay, perfect. So number one is what would you be doing if you weren't in the world of research or teaching?


Kaisa Snellman  32:42  

Alright, so I probably will be a journalist. I enjoy writing, I enjoy research, like the pace is slightly different. That which is a good and a bad thing, because then you need to keep cracking. But like, you know, you also have to like, you can't spend all of your time like five years on one piece. But that's only like, you know, if I needed to get paid, if I didn't need to be paid for my alternative job. It probably would be something like proofreading cookbooks. I love cookbooks. I love cooking, but I don't have the time to cook. But I own like, I have a collection of cookbooks from different countries. And this is like my hobby. I just go through like the pretty pictures like this is what I would do if I had more time.


Natasha Mascarenhas  33:23  

Oh my God anyway. Oh, my God. I'm gonna change my last question then. And ask what cookbook would you recommend to me? I am such a cookbook lover. I have a bunch Teeoh But not in this room. But yeah. Do you have any cookbook recommendations just based on the last 35 minutes of talking to me that you would recommend specifically to me that my taste buds I'm vegetarian. That's a hint.


Kaisa Snellman  33:44  

So Deliciously by Ella. It's a vegetarian cookbook, okay, by I think she's Swedish or Danish. And she changed her diet based on health problems that she had, like from eating too much refined sugar, and meats and the stuff that she has in her cookbook, or they're just like, they will blow your mind. Oh, okay.


Natasha Mascarenhas  34:04  

Done. Well, that's why I love equity. You get everything from cookbook recommendations to double checking a lot of the biases the rule or startup world. Thanks again for joining the show. Where can people find you and your research online?


Kaisa Snellman  34:18  

So I'm on Twitter, Kaisa Snellman. My handle I occasionally write to the Harvard Business Review and you can also check my writing at the inside knowledge blog that we have.


Natasha Mascarenhas  34:28  

Perfect. I will link all the things in the show and thank you again for joining everyone else. We will chat with you as usual on Friday. Take care. Bye.


Kaisa Snellman  34:36  

Bye. Thank you.


Natasha Mascarenhas  34:39  

Equity Wednesdays are hosted by myself, TechCrunch senior reporter at Natasha Mascarenhas. We're produced by Theresa Loconsolo with editing by Kell Keller. Bryce Durbin is our Illustrator. Alyssa Stringer leads audience development and Henry Pickavet manages TechCrunch audio products. Thank you so much for listening and we'll be back next week.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai