Women, particularly women who are mothers, are especially committed to education. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of a group of volunteers, 44.5 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 volunteered mainly for educational or youth service organizations, compared to 38.3 percent of fathers. Further, according to a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, female-headed households are 33 percent more likely to give to educational charities than male-headed households. Whether it is through volunteering or donations, then, women are making a mark on education.
There is a huge opportunity for women to do even more, though, by becoming angel investors in education. By making their voices heard as investors, women will share decision-making power over innovations in the education sector.
As an angel investor, I see the latest technology coming through the pipeline. I hear about the challenges schools face in keeping up with the pace, the cost, and the myriad options for technology in the classroom.
Recently, I was at the LearnLaunch conference, a fantastic education technology summit that brought together thought leaders from around the United States. I was honored to be one of the judges at the pitch competition, where I saw a number of women leading great, innovative companies. When I looked out into the sea of investors, however, it was predominantly male. At the special investors sessions, there were very also few women present.
Women need to have a larger voice in this area. If they don’t get involved, others will make the decisions for them, and they may not see funding toward innovations that address their interests.
I’ve noticed that many of the startups receiving the most funding are ones that appeal to large corporations, especially corporations who want to collect data on children. In fact, according to CB Insights, the most well-funded education technology companies are Open English, Tutor Group, Knewton, lynda.com, Kaltura, and Coursera. These companies only focus on the online education platform niche.
There are also startups for investors focused on supporting children from low-income communities, increasing awareness in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), supporting children with learning disabilities, providing skills development courses, and many other passion points. These education technology startups need early-stage angel investor funding to survive.
Education is a field with healthy female representation in both the classroom (females represent 76 percent of teachers in public school classrooms, according to the Institute of Education Sciences) and in the startups developing product. I want more women to take this passion for education and apply it to angel investing. Otherwise, we are surrendering our power to others.
Join me, and start by taking three simple steps:
- Visit LearnLaunch, and sign up for their newsletter. They have an accelerator that has launched several noteworthy companies. Keep up to date with their accelerator programs by following LearnLaunch on Twitter.
- Visit EdSurge, and follow them on Twitter. EdSurge’s nationwide coverage of education technology is a one-stop-shop for critical updates.
- If you are a parent, talk to your children about the technology they are using both in the classroom and outside. Ask their teachers what they use, what they like, and what they need.
Do you have a particular area you are passionate about in education? Let me know in the comments section.
Barbara Clarke is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.
This article is not investment advice, nor is it a solicitation to buy or sell any shares.