As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’ve been reflecting deeply on the role of women in business and, specifically, entrepreneurship. As an economic development organization, we are engaged in supporting entrepreneurship as a central piece of our pursuit of economic vitality and competitiveness in Denver South.

To that end, I was fortunate to recently serve as a judge for the CCIC/YouthBiz Startup Week Pitch contest hosted by the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus. As I did, I was pleased not only by the passion and energy these teens brought to their ventures, but also by the diversity of the participants: About half of the participants were young women.

As the father of two driven, business-minded adult daughters, I’ve reflected a great deal on the challenges women face as entrepreneurs generally and in 2021, in particular. It is also a topic that has been prominent in our national conversation of late, with several recent articles highlighting myriad compounding challenges that disproportionately affect women in business. For example, while there has been progress towards increasing equality in past decades generally, women have been disproportionately impacted by the societal impacts of COVID-19, more often tasked with balancing the demands of the workplace and of family care.

Colorado Sun: Coronavirus crushed Colorado’s economy. But working women paid the highest price.

Wall Street Journal: How the Coronavirus Crisis Threatens to Set Back Women’s Careers

A couple of data points shed light on this complex issue:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, women have lost 5.4 million net jobs, compared with 4.4 million jobs lost by men.
  • In January 2021, 346,000 people left the workforce in the U.S., a staggering 80 percent of whom were women.
  • Working women have now lost more than three decades of labor force gains in less than a year.

This challenge isn’t limited to those working for large employers. It also applies to those with entrepreneurial leanings who wish to start their own business or join a start-up company. Despite growing interest in startups on the part of professional women, funding for entrepreneurial companies is disproportionately received by founders who are men. In fact, only about three percent of funding goes to companies founded by women.

A recent article in Fortune magazine noted that in one week earlier this year the stock trading platform Robinhood raised more money that the total raised by all women-founded companies in 2020. This disparity is clearly not based on performance differences between women and men. Women are statistically more successful at generating revenue compared to capital raised than their male counterparts.

So, what do we as a society and a region do to address this situation? The answer is complex, but one important component to addressing inequity is addressing the gender gap among investors and encouraging women (and men) to invest in more women-led firms.

As we celebrate International Woman’s Day, we are choosing to call attention to these inequities because we think it’s an appropriate challenge for a region like Denver South to tackle. While we certainly don’t have all the answers, we do have a wealth of talented women making huge impacts in Denver South. And we have a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work-together culture and attitude that has and will overcome great problems. Those assets combined with a dedicated effort over time can make Denver South a leader in this regard.


First, by welcoming everyone who wants to build a world class investor network and entrepreneurial ecosystem for female entrepreneurs. We are fortunate to work with several impactful partners who are working to address this issue today, including the Rockies Venture Club’s Women’s Investor Network, and we can help you better connect with them. If you are interested in helping out, or in learning more, please reach out to us at

And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t turn your attention back to the amazing young women who participated in the CCIC/YouthBiz Startup Week Pitch Contest. Supporting programs that support women in entrepreneurship, especially early in life, is a critical part of driving more equality in the startup community. Cherry Creek Schools Foundation, a huge supporter of the Cherry Creek Innovation Center, is having their annual fundraiser to support these and other important programs. Please consider supporting them at