As a result, more female founders are taking funding matters into their own hands. Women founders who use seed crowdfunding platforms aren't just reaching their funding goals, they are doing so at a rate that's better than crowdfunded ventures started by men. Across 450,000 seed crowdfunding campaigns recently studied by PwC and The Crowdfunding Centre, women-led campaigns reached their funding goal more often than male-led campaigns.
In the United States and U.K. — the largest markets for seed crowdfunding campaigns — 20 percent of male-led campaigns met their goal compared with 24 percent and 26 percent of female-led campaigns, respectively. Across nine of the largest global crowdfunding platforms, female-led campaigns were 32 percent more successful at reaching their funding target than male-led campaigns.
Crowdfunding connects founders of new ventures with financial backers to launch or develop a new business, product or service. Seed crowdfunding increased from $10 million in 2009 to more than $767 million in 2016, with backers from over 200 countries.
Even in the technology sector, where there are nine male-led campaigns to every one female-led campaign, female-led campaigns are more successful — 13 percent to 10 percent, respectively, the study found. The two highest-funded female campaigns were in the technology and the design sectors, while the two most popular — ranked by the largest number of individual backers — were in the technology and the food sectors.
Top 3 sectors for female-led campaign success
- Entertainment & media: 30 percent
- Retail & consumer goods: 22 percent
- Hospitality & leisure: 21 percent
"It's obvious that women are discriminated against in many different areas, including funding. What I love about crowdfunding is it democratizes access to capital and, more importantly, the playing field," said Sherwood Neiss, principal at Crowdfund Capital Advisors.
Women owners represented about 40 percent of the 2,030 small businesses surveyed in the recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey. The survey of 2,030 business nationwide found that women are more likely to run the smallest firms. It revealed that 70 percent of women business owners have firms employing four people or less; for men it's 56 percent. Only 14 percent of women-owned businesses have 10 or more employees; for men it's 26 percent.
The success of female founders doesn't mean they are more likely to seek out crowdfunding as a source of business capital. Research shows that men tend to use crowdfunding more often than women.
More from the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey:
Getting a college degree? A majority of business owners don't have one
How to crush your business rivals on Facebook
Almost half of small businesses still lack a website
"There's a general lack of awareness to this new form of capital raising," Neiss said. "Women don't know. Men don't know. But men know it more than women."
Women business owners surveyed by CNBC and SurveyMonkey were less likely to say technology innovations would have a positive effect on their business — 36 percent vs. 45 percent of male business owners. But female business owners are slightly more likely to use social media for customer communication and advertising.
Men also raise a lot more money than women, even if their success rate is lower. Just under 90 percent of crowdfunded campaigns raising more than $1 million were male-led campaigns.
Aoife Flood, senior manager of the global diversity and inclusion program at PwC, said the dearth of women in the traditional financing world is a difficult hurdle to overcome — men lend more to other men.