Opinion | Bumble’s IPO success: a battle won in an ongoing war for gender equality

Despite the recent success of female-founded Bumble Inc IPO, there is still a structural social barrier to gender equality in the start-up and corporate world.



Bumble operates as a more women-centric and women-friendly version of Tinder.

Jacob A Miller, Opinions Columnist

The recent successful public launch of the female-founded and operated Bumble Inc. signifies another huge win for women entrepreneurs and strong female leadership in the start-up world and corporate America.

Although this accomplishment helps to crack the illusory glass ceiling that keeps women and minority groups from holding executive positions, we also need to recognize the realities of the situation for women at large looking to start their own companies in our country.

The company’s founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, is only one of four women to have led an Initial Public Offering, which launches a company onto the stock exchange, in 2020. However, there were reportedly 480 IPOs put on the US stock market this last year.

Despite women making up approximately 50.5 percent of the U.S. population, they only contributed to less than 1 percent of the total launches.

A fact that some believe is a result of women founders being less competitive in the marketplace. However, a recent report found that women-owned startups on average generate twice as much per dollar invested than those owned by men.

In light of this, I think a more nuanced understanding of this inequality and what sustains it should be applied. Part of that understanding can be found in the work of sociologist Andrew Cherlin who outlines in his book “Labor’s Love Lost” the social norms that were created during the 20th century.

Cherlin makes an argument that because of conditions in America following its industrialization that gender roles became defined as men providing for families via employment, and women provided for their families by taking care of the home.

When equal rights movements started to advocate for women’s place in the workforce and started to secure job opportunities, they were funneled into mostly clerical and service industry positions.

Fast-forwarding back to the present, the norms that affected gender roles throughout the 1900s had enough time to bake into the structure of our workforce. This created strong social factors keep women boxed out of entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities.

This leads me to the second half of the equation: venture capitalists tend to choose to invest in people who are already in their network. Given that women have not held many positions in the past that would put them into the networks of these individuals, the opportunities they have to secure those funds become limited.

To illustrate this point, less than 3 percent of venture capital dollars have gone to women founded startups in the last decade. Since women historically haven’t had opportunities to get into this network, we can see this confirms the insular process of where one chooses to put their investment dollars.

Success like Herd and Bumble have achieved is a triumph that we should all take a moment to recognize. The more women who cement themselves as successful founders, the more equality we will see in the workforce.

This accomplishment does help us move toward better representation in the start-up world. But it won’t be until the distribution of men and women in the circles of venture capitalist and upper-level executives mirrors the distribution of gender in our country that we can truly claim equality in the workforce.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.