In 2019 women in the U.S. and all over the world are still dangerously underserved by the medical community and the healthcare gap is compounded even further for women of color. For a long time, women’s bodies and health concerns have been ignored. It was only in the last few years that women have had things like uterine healthcare, sexual wellness, and postnatal care apps at their fingertips — and we want more!
Femtech is a term coined in 2015 by Clue founder Ida Tin, to describe a sector of tech that focuses on women’s health. Although the term didn’t exist until fairly recently, the sector has existed since the early 2010s and even before that if you count health innovations like medical devices and drugs. Since 2014, femtech has raised a collective 1 billion dollars and is expected to bring in $50 billion by 2025.
You would think because of the name there would be more female founders involved, but similar to all other sectors of tech — it’s mostly white and male. Something that Estrella Jaramillo, the co-founder of femtech startup Bwom, says impacts the quality of products and services available to women.
“Female founded femtech startups are designed with a woman’s best interest in mind. We look at self-care, the changes of our bodies, preventative measures, and non-invasive health management. They are more user-centric and women-centric,” Jaramillo told HipLatina.
On the other hand, she says, male founded startups tend to concentrate on more straightforward solutions created with male investors in mind. For example, if a woman is peeing when she sneezes after having a child, a male-led femtech company might come up with a comfortable pad made from biodegradable material. Women led startups will ask: how can we prevent her from peeing in the first place?
In 2018 companies with all women founders received only 2.2% of VC funding, and women make up only 9% of venture capitalists working with startups. Which makes the 4% of funding that goes to women’s healthcare research and development not that surprising. Of course, women of color are largely underrepresented as founders in the femtech space because such is life in these United States. But their numbers are rising and their solutions are increasingly inventive and important to women’s health. Here are 9 women of color who are making room for themselves in femtech.