Mar 05, 2014 06:55 PM EST
Google is throwing its weight behind an initiative to address the gender gap, pledging funds to 40 “startup-focused organizations” through its Google for Entrepreneurs project. In all, the company says it will commit $1 million in an effort to challenge organizations to boost the representation of women in various tech communities—a fairly insignificant sum for one of the world’s largest technology companies, particularly given that the money will be split 40 ways.
Currently, Google says women comprise 30 percent of U.S. business owners and generate about 7.8 million jobs.
“Even though women-owned enterprises operate with far less capital, in the venture-backed tech industry, they produce 12 percent higher returns. That means that not only is supporting women in business the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do,” the company wrote in a Google Blog post.
Google is naming the new initiative #40Forward and already boasts several highlights from participating organizations. A Chicago-based company called 1871 has launched a startup accelerator program geared specifically toward women, while Astia is working to increasing female entrepreneurs’ ability to access capital.
“In an effort to find new ways to advance female entrepreneurs, this week Google for Entrepreneurs is committing $1 million in aggregate to 40 startup-focused organizations, challenging them to increase the representation of women in their respective tech communities. From simply changing the times of events to accommodate busy moms to teaching young girls to see themselves as entrepreneurs, 40 of our partner communities will soon launch new programs and outreach initiatives to encourage women founders. We’re calling this collective effort #40Forward,” Google said.
The hope for #40Forward is that by the end of 2014, the 40 participating companies will increase the number of women in their respective programs by 25 percent. Google encourages people to follow the program’s progress and participate in the conversation on Google+ and Twitter.
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