Female startup founders help bring equity to executive roles

Female startup founders help bring equity to executive roles

Just look at the startups and see: women are a minority, especially in executive (C-level) and leadership positions.

The numbers prove it: according to a survey by the Brazilian Startup Association, in 2021, only 16.9% of startup founders were women.

The indices that analyze the teams are also not very encouraging in terms of gender equity. Only 20.8% of startups have a more expressive number of women on the team – from 26% to 49% of the total number of teams.

To face these numbers, female CEOs are using their own experience and empathy – a more welcoming feeling – as fuel for change and to get more women appointed to decision-making positions.

Tatiana Pimenta, CEO of Vittude, a telemedicine startup, is one of those women who use her professional background as an incentive. With a degree in civil engineering, she worked in four multinationals, and only reported to male directors. “I lost count of the times I started talking and was interrupted by a man. I had no place to speak,” she says.

When she founded Vittude in 2016, alongside partner Everton Höpner, Tatiana decided that she would have a heterogeneous team. “When you have more diversity in the company, you have different perspectives. And men and women have different worldviews. This is a fact. By balancing the team, you bring wealth of thought.”

Vittude is a platform dedicated to online therapy sessions, both for patients and for companies. In 2020, with the pandemic, there was a huge increase in patients, and the company received investments. The following year, they had a 12-fold increase in revenue and began to hire more people.

With that, more women came to the C-level. Today, alongside Tatiana and Everton, are Maíra Gracini, chief revenue officer, and Izabela Yumi, chief financial officer, among the six executive positions at Vittude. There are other women in leadership positions, in a company that currently has around 40 employees – thus bringing a plurality of views.

In addition to Vittude, other startups make the same move, with female leaders. This is the case with Nilo Saúde, Chiligum, Be Beleza Tech, Woof, AutoForce and Gupy – the latter reached the level of 50% women on the team, at all levels of leadership.


Mariana Dias, co-founder and CEO of the Gupy recruitment and selection platform, argues that gender equity brings more innovation. Through its selection service, the startup encourages diversity in the teams of other companies.

Gupy itself was founded with a diverse executive team: alongside Mariana, are Bruna Guimarães, director of operations, Guilherme Dias, director of marketing and product, and Robson Ventura, director of technology.

Mariana also felt gender inequality firsthand since the beginning of her professional career. “I started to wonder if we women can have a corporate career with the same competitiveness as men. That’s when the idea for Gupy was born.” In addition to the C-level, made up of two women out of four, Gupy has 50% women on its staff, including leadership roles in sales, diversity, legal, customer success and marketing.

Isaiane Mendonça, co-founder of startup AutoForce, also felt this inequality, perhaps more intensely because she works in two areas very dominated by men: technology and the automotive sector. Founded alongside Tiago Fernandes and Clênio Cunha, the company offers technologies to boost vehicle sales. The platform was developed by Isaiane, who has a degree in computer science. “At the beginning of the project, my partners wanted me to continue being just a web designer”, she says. “From the front, I agreed with them. Behind, I developed a platform and delivered it ready. I think women are always underrated; It’s even a cultural issue.”

Isaiane concluded that women in leadership only bring benefits to the company. So much so that, today, the people leader of AutoForce (and right-hand man of the founders) is Thaiani Godoy. Two other women make up the startup’s leadership, representing 40% of the leadership positions.

Mariana Dias agrees that women in leadership bring more innovation. “Many companies come to Gupy with the goal of having 30% women in their workforce. But the issue goes deeper than that: you have to have women at every level, on every team,” she says.

The information is from the newspaper. The State of São Paulo.

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