What it Means to be a Woman in the Pitching Room by Victoria Wejchert

Automatic Summary

A Woman’s Experience in the Pitching Room: Combating Bias and Bridging the Gap

Today, we're delving into an incredibly relevant and crucial topic in today's professional world - the female experience in historically male-dominated fields, particularly in pitching rooms and investing arenas. This piece explores a myriad of specific instances of bias and discrimination, reinforcing the necessity of consciousness and initiatives in place for uplifting women entrepreneurs and investors.

Background of a Powerhouse Female Investor

Born in Ireland to Polish immigrant parents that fled communism, our subject moved back to Poland in the late nineties. She was raised in an environment of utopian equality until she landed in the UK for college. Very soon, she experienced the unruly biases towards her based on her nationality and gender.

Despite her experiences, she continued forging ahead, becoming a successful investor that dealt with significant bias in business meetings and professional gatherings. She shared that she had to tirelessly work 150% harder than her male counterparts to be seen as equal.

Understanding the Statistical Landscape to Break the Bias

The biases and disparity are mirrored in the statistics regarding female entrepreneurs and investors. According to PWC, only 2% of VC funds go to female-funded businesses. Moreover, an astounding 87% of funding goes to all-male teams, and women control a meager 1-3.5% of assets under management.

However, let's not overlook the fact that women-led businesses are performing beautifully. Women-owned businesses generated $1.8 trillion in the economy last year, and private tech companies led by women achieve 35% higher return on investment. Yet, the question remains - why are there still substantially fewer female investors and entrepreneurs?

Overcoming Challenges, Defying Odds, and Being the Change

Despite all the challenges, countless women are shaking up the business world with their resilience, innovation, and determination. It only requires an additional push on our part to help more women rise in the industry.

  • Showing up 150% more prepared: Ladies, just like our subject, let's be ready to outperform the odds through our rigorous preparation.
  • Acting as role models: Our actions today pave the way for the leaders of tomorrow. Let's be fair, unbiased, and supportive.
  • Supporting each other: Let's aim to uplift each other rather than competing for the limited opportunities. Our collective growth should be the end goal.

Tap Into Our Unique Strengths and Break Free from Stereotypes

One of the most critical aspects of overcoming these challenges is not trying to mimic a masculine approach to business but being authentic and utilizing our unique strengths as women.

Men successfully tap into their "feminine side", which helps them build and nourish professional relationships. Women, too, should harness the full spectrum of their capabilities. Business is not built on aggression but on robust and great relationships.


We need awareness initiatives to bridge the existing gender gap in the corporate world. However, we can also make changes on a daily basis by setting examples, being aware of our biases, and understanding the strength in our unique features. Rather than trying to fit ourselves into the existing frameworks, we should strive to remodel them to suit our abilities, our strengths, and our vision.

Video Transcription

Thank you for having me. Um So I thought I'd start a bit about my background um Since I'll be talking about what it means to be a woman in the pitching room. Um I was born in Ireland to Polish immigrant parents that escaped during communism.We moved back to Poland in the late nineties, I went to an American school run by the US Embassy in Warsaw. And I grew up in an environment of utopian equality. No one saw race, gender ethnicity, but then I went on to college in the UK and that bubble popped. I was called out by a professor. Hey, Blondie, what do you think people sat together according to their nationality, um culture or gender background? Um I then went on to apply for banking jobs and heard that'll be a distraction to an all male team. Um Later on in my career, I began investing and when walking into a board room uh to male, three males that were actually pitching me for money. I'd hear them ask me for a skinny cappuccino. Um Well, on the entrepreneurial side, I just was raising money for my new start up. I hear that my idea is very cute. Uh One potential investor actually kissed me on the top of my head when leaving um a networking event. I also end up at all male uh tables of entrepreneurs. And I guess ask if I'm someone's wife when all these things happen.

I actually think a lot about what my dad said to me. Um He said this is a man's world and that probably sounds a bit harsh. But actually the statistics support that only 2% of VC funds uh go to female funded businesses and to put that in context, um Global investments, IV CS grew 15% last year to $259 billion in the US, that's 100 $30 billion according to PWC. But still funding for mixed gendered founding teams like my own have dropped from 13% to 9% which still leaves an astounding 87% of funding going to all male teams of all the funding available in the world, about 14% goes to female founders and that includes bank loans and so forth.

Um V CS have a tendency to invest in people that look like themselves. So if we go to the other side of the boardroom, from the founder side to the investment side, aside from professional sports teams, investment businesses like hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital funds ha might have the lowest percentage of women at the top of the pyramid.

At 4%. Women actually only control between 1% and 3.5% of assets under management depending on specific class. So a lot of times when I say these statistics, people give me a push back and say, oh, but that's probably because not many women enter and decide to become founders or become go into V CS. Well, 20% of businesses were founded by females last year. 45% of us businesses are women owned. The US has 12.3 million women owned businesses. These women owned businesses last year generated $1.8 trillion in the economy. Women started last year 1800 net new businesses every day. And then on the VC side, there are women also going into VC at entry level. A third are females. So then a lot of times people say, well, they must just not be performing well, actually private tech companies led by women achieve 35% higher ro I while V CS that increase their proportion of female partner hires by 10% saw an average of 1.5% improvement in annual fund returns and nearly 10% increase in profitable exits.

Um But still we end up with fewer female investors and fewer female founders that give investment. So after all these stats, a lot of us may wonder why do we get up in the morning? Why do we even get started? But thank goodness millions of women. But for us didn't do that. They got up and we will too. And we, and this conference is a great example of that. There are a lot of great initiatives out there like making quotas for boards, having more females working on female products, having a is analyze deal flow which actually results in 52% of recommended de deals being from females or minorities. But a friend of mine asked, but what can we do on a daily basis? And so this takes me back to my father who said that this is a man's world. He also said that I'm gonna have to do 100 50% more than any man and be 100 and 50% better than any man to achieve the same thing. And I've seen that from my experience and I also think it's really worth it because we may have to put 100 and 50% in more so that the next generation of women and minorities have to put 100 10% more in.

And then the next 1 may actually have equal footing. So that's what I've been doing. And that's kind of the thing that I've been supporting other women in doing is a male founder, maybe needs to meet 100 potential investors to get funded. We may need to get, meet 100 50 or more investors to beat those odds. And then when I do get into that boardroom into those meetings. I'm 100 and 50% more prepared. I'm ready to receive those decent defensive questions and turn them around to my advantage because I'm aware that people come in with their biases that may even be unconscious as well as, even as an investor when I walk in and there's a lot more we can do. That's not only in the boardroom to be 100 and 50% better in two other aspects. And first one is, and this here, let's go back to that experience in college and being catcalled. Where does this come from here is where we all have a role. We need to be good role models for future generations. We have to be aware of our biases and our constant harsh judgment of people based on their looks. Oh, she must be a bimbo. She's blonde in a colorful dress. The men and women who have helped me along the way in my career.

By the way, I founded two companies both with nail co-founders, with me in the role of CEO and these individuals helped me along the way because they were raised to not judge a book by its cover, to listen to support others. And another important aspect. And this brings me to second thing that we can be better at these men and women were able to tap into their masculine and feminine sides. What do I mean by this so often business competitiveness winning as associative masculine characteristics like aggression and toughness and so often it has actually forced women to become excessively tough and harsh including towards other women. We all have the example of there being just one board seat for a woman. So all the women are competing against each other for this one seat. And by the way, I think that's a great tactic. So we're not focused on the bigger picture. So instead of elbowing each other out, we should actually support each other. So one of us gets that seat, gets into that room and then support them in helping her elbow out other people or pull up more chairs to that boardroom seat and table. And so then more minorities and women can get into that room. We shouldn't have to play into being aggressive and harsh, metaphorically only wearing the pantsuit. Men actually tap into their feminine side all the time.

And it is that side and those characteristics that enable men to be successful in business, listening to their intuition, receptiveness, observational side as well as building relationships and having the charisma of people. And this is something I'm observing in my current business.

I built a relationship management app to remember all the people you meet and stay in touch with them. And I hear so often from women, oh, this is an app, a tool for women. It's not a large portion of our users are actually male and they are outstanding at being thoughtful about remembering people's birthdays and anniversaries and kids names and sports teams and gifts, ideas and looking numbers, you name it and making sure they stay in touch and reach out and build very strong networks.

Those that make them very successful. Business is not built on aggression. It's built on great relationships. My mother who's actually an entrepreneur always says a deal is not done between companies, it's done between people and yes, there will continue to be inappropriate behaviors and more men that will call my business cute. But I've also learned another really important thing from them.

And something that I try to be 100 50% better at also is to not take things personally, men, they can get into a fight, disagree. And the next day they'll be playing golf and best buds. Again, we women should be more like that and do more of that, including the golfing too, of course. So what I'd like to wrap up with as we come to the end is that yes, we need awareness initiatives, but we all help but and they will all help. But we can also make a change on a daily basis by taking more meetings and fighting those odds by setting an example for next generations to not judge by other people's looks, being aware of our biases as well as supporting one another in companies and boardrooms. And let's also not lose ourselves in the process of what makes us women and gives us this amazing advantage, which is the ability to tap into our masculine and feminine side. Lastly, I'd love to say anyone if you want to reach out to me, I'm here. Always happy to support other women and minorities. Um I've added my links into my profile so please do reach out to me.