VPC Director Jan Lederman on the ‘Unwritten Sexism’ of Angel Investing

Jan Lederman, director of Valhalla Private Capital and expert coach at WeRaise – an initiative which supports women-led companies in attracting and raising capital – has opened up about the global issue of gender disparity within angel investing.

Discussing WeRaise’s Valhalla-implemented program which has supported businesses in scaling, growing their profits and raising investments across Pakistan, Jan detailed the “unwritten sexism” of investing in North America.

“Female founders have a more difficult time raising capital, and investors – whether they’re female or male – tend to ask female founders different kinds of questions about their businesses,” Jan began.

“[Men] ask questions that tend to be more passive and negative, and we find in North America there’s less overt sexism and more unwritten sexism.”

Jan also condemned the issue of sexism in raising capital as an “assault” on the ego of those involved due to juggling work, family commitments and a “constant barrage of questions” from investors.

‘A feminist at heart’

With previous experience as an M&A lawyer, Valhalla’s director hailed working with female founders as an opportunity to “go back to [her] roots”.

“I’m a feminist at heart, direct from my early high school university days in the 1970s – which in North America was a very active time for women’s rights – and the law played a really large role on that,” Jan said.

“Family law, reproductive rights and equality law were all at the root of those early struggles. I was involved in it a lot in my university days and my life partner has been involved in it throughout her career.”

However, while Jan remarked that while her efforts in working with female founders usually take place “on [her] own time”, she celebrated the “tremendous consistencies” in those receiving coaching support.

According to data from the Angel Capital Association, women make up just a fifth (22%) of America’s angel investors.

‘So many more challenges for Pakistani women’

Shazia Khan, co-founder of Pakistan-based tech company EcoEnergy (which benefitted from WeRaise’s program), said that her business opted to put policies in place to facilitate the issues faced by middle and lower-class women in the workplace.

“There’s so many more challenges for Pakistani women,” Shazia began, “even for us to hire and retain women has been a challenge,” she said.

“We were missing out on a lot of very talented staff just because they can’t make it into the office without being harassed or groped.”

As a result, EcoEnergy allowed people to work from home so they no longer had to go to their workplace.

Watch the full discussion via WeRaise’s Facebook page.

Valhalla Private Capital has taken steps to champion female investors and entrepreneurs across North America and further afield. You can read more about them on our blog post: The Valhalla Approach to Gender Equality in Angel Investing.

Do you have a question about angel investing? Get in touch with Valhalla Angels via our contact page.

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