To counteract the egregiously uneven ratio of female startup founders to male (11% to 89% at last count) the Founder Institute, a co-op accelerator and entrepreneur training program, is announcing today that it will be offering a Female Founder Fellowship to worthy applicants.
All ten of the current Founder Institute cities currently accepting applications will be awarding the most outstanding female founder a scholarship to the four month long program. Any female who applies to Founder Institute programs including New York City, Singapore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., San Diego, Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Boston is automatically eligible. Additionally the first 100 females to apply to the program by this Sunday will have their application fee waived by following this link.
Founder Institute partner Jonathan Greechan tells me that this is not about special treatment, and that he and co-founder Adeo Ressi made the decision to create the scholarship when they realized that while men and women were being accepted to FI in the same proportions as they applied, 20% more women were making it through the program.
Says Greechan, “The whole females in tech thing has been belabored over and over again, but the fact that 20% more make it through the program made us think, let’s get them over the first hump.”
Ressi says that last year’s noisy debate surrounding the women in tech issue had no impact on the number of female applicants to the Institute, but when the Berlin chapter enacted a scholarship program for females, the pool of female of applicants jumped. Notable female graduates from the Institute include Q Zhao, founder of 2Red Beans, Charissa Shaw, founder of Ergolution, Maya Bisineer, founder of Memetales and Himani Amoli, founder of Micromobs.
Founders Institute graduates have been 16% female to date (“this beats the average, but quite frankly the average sucks”), and Ressi has a tentative goal of increasing it 30% by the end of the year, wanting to launch 175 female-led technology companies in 2011. Ressi’s ambitious personal goal is to eventually graduate 50% female founders.