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Launching while female
An exposé of the gender gap in entrepreneurship and a road map for a more inclusive and economically successful future for us all
Published October 27 by Beacon Press
Journalist and professor Susanne Althoff investigates the obstacles women and nonbinary entrepreneurs—especially those of color—face when launching, funding, and growing their companies, obstacles that persist because the current start-up world was engineered by and for white men. Through interviews with over a hundred founders across the country and in all industries, Althoff paints a picture of an entrepreneurial system rife with bias and discrimination, where women receive less than 3 percent of this country’s venture capital, struggle to find mentors in the wake of #MeToo, and are dismissed as “mompreneurs.”
The effects of this unequal system—a weaker economy, fewer jobs, less innovation—are felt by all of us. By exploring the practical ways we can open the entrepreneurial system to everyone, Althoff provides a rallying cry and a way forward for women entrepreneurs and their allies, showing that change is urgent and within our reach.
“Althoff, former editor-in-chief of Boston Globe Magazine, debuts with a wise collection of advice and encouragement for aspiring female entrepreneurs. … Althoff’s incisive, practical guide should be required reading for any entrepreneurial woman.”
“In Launching While Female, Althoff reminds us of the importance of demolishing the vast collection of myths that hold women back, from the absurdity of meritocracies to self-made delusions. Countering a sea of pointless, aggressively positive platitudes, Althoff gives founders a much-needed, data-driven reality check and stellar examples to emulate.”
—Nathalie Molina Niño, investor and author of Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs
“Susanne Althoff’s Launching While Female is opening the door wider to expose what women founders have known for years: there’s a different set of rules for launching a business if you’re a woman.”
—Nikki Porcher, Black woman activist and founder of Buy from a Black Woman
“Launching While Female offers new and essential insights on the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in today’s male-dominated start-up world and illustrates why helping diverse founders succeed matters to society. This important book highlights key strategies to help nurture and support the next generation of business leaders and big ideas.”
—Heather Cabot, coauthor of Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech
“Susanne Althoff has written a comprehensive and insightful book on women entrepreneurs and the realities they (still) face in launching ventures. Importantly, it distinguishes the increased challenges faced by women of color and nonbinary entrepreneurs. As an educator, I think this book constitutes required reading!”
—Lakshmi Balachandra, associate professor of entrepreneurship, Babson College
“A must-read for those seeking to understand how sexism continues to happen in business and how we might go about trying to change it.”
—Naomi McDougall Jones, author of The Wrong Kind of Women
voices from the book
When I’ve talked to investors, I’ve witnessed their different perceptions of me. It’s like they’re perceiving that I don’t know technology. They think that I have to name some of the companies I worked for. I don’t get the benefit of the doubt.
No matter how much you protect yourself, you will probably be exposed to some level of sexual harassment or assault. It can be a minor or even a major situation, but something will happen along the way.
Men have been [networking] for so long, and they’re so good at it, and do it in places where you don’t find a lot of women like golf courses or strip clubs. I think it’s important that women create their own network.
Photo by Joel Benjamin
About the author
Susanne Althoff is a veteran journalist and an assistant professor at Emerson College in Boston, where she teaches publishing entrepreneurship and women’s media. She’s also served as advisor to women-led start-ups. Before joining Emerson in 2015, Althoff worked for 22 years as a magazine editor, including six years as the editor in chief of the Boston Globe Magazine. Her writing has appeared in WIRED, the Boston Globe, and other publications. Read her latest op-ed in Fortune here.