According to a report in U.S. News & World Report, even though more than 90% of venture capital and angel funding goes to men, female entrepreneurs are still thriving. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses grew nearly 20% between 1997 and 2004. If funding is so unbalanced, what accounts for the explosion of startups launched by women?

Well, it turns out there are a couple of reasons. U.S. News & World Report's senior editor, Justin Ewers, says, "According to several recent studies, the deck is often stacked against female entrepreneurs: Compared with men, women tend to start their ventures with fewer resources, less reliable suppliers, and substantially less early-stage venture funding -- a critical financial nudge that helps many businesses survive."

When women do ask for funding, says Ewers, they have about the same success rate as men. Unfortunately, many women don't pitch VCs so the money ends up going to their male counterparts. "In this corner of the small-business world anyway, the playing field does seem to be relatively level," Ewers goes on to say. "If anything, the study seems to make it clear that women who own small businesses have nothing to fear when it comes to angel funding. The business world may still be rigged against them in some ways, but when it comes to private equity, there doesn't seem to be a ceiling for women, glass or otherwise."

In many cases, a female entrepreneur's perceived lack of funding options may result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to a recent study by England's Factors and Discounters Association, "a large number of female would-be entrepreneurs feel that men get an unfair advantage when looking for start-up funds," although the actual numbers say otherwise. That's unfortunate, because it appears VCs and angels are more than willing to help fund women-owned startups.

As WomenEntrepreneur.com blogger Nina Kaufman notes, "[M]y mother taught me, 'If you don't ask, you don't get.' (She had a corollary, too -- 'You still may not get even if you do ask, but you definitely won't if you don't.')" That's good advice, so get out there and pitch a VC. You've got nothing to lose and you never know until you try.



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