Vive La Différence

FemTech Closes the Gender Gap in Women’s Health

Let’s be honest. Men and women are different, and as the French say:

Vive la différence!

From the obvious (anatomical differences) to the subversive (sex stereotypes), there’s a lot happening in the gender divide.

A new generation of young women, mothers, and engaged men with a healthy understanding of gender equality are driving exciting new developments in the FemTech health sector. And we count ourselves among those celebrating the differences. The tech world has caught onto new opportunities for exploring women’s needs, and suddenly we’re encountering an expanded array of innovative products and services that specifically address, and even champion, the fairer sex.

It hasn’t always been this way. For example, there’s long been far fewer medications developed for women’s-only health conditions than for men. This disparity stems from a male-dominated medical field, combined with the funding decisions of big pharma, driven by drugs that “sell” and those that are reimbursed by insurers (Viagra, anyone?).

Gender equality issues in healthcare are also political, financial, institutionally entrenched, and often highly controversial. Consider, for instance, the troubling statistics on unnecessary mastectomies and hysterectomies, and related invasive procedures driving a hugely profitable medical industry.

But to return to the positive, I’d like to shed some light on recent developments in women-focused products and design.

In recent years we’ve seen more and more tech startups in both the software and hardware space secure funding for products and services tailored to women. Not surprisingly many of these companies have much higher female C-Level involvement, and/or are led by women.

Yes, it’s still a struggle to pitch to a predominantly male audience of investors the beauty of an IoT kegel exercising tool (VaGenie) without getting terrified looks, but we are making progress. Take Willow, a new wearable breast pump that won Best Digital Health and Fitness Product at this year’s CES.

CB Insights recently published a great summary of some of the companies in FemTech. In total, these companies have raised over $1.1 billion.

Source: https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/femtech-market-map/

User-centric design is a uniting feature among these new apps, websites, and products. From a UX and UI perspective, we’re seeing a lot of the following:

  • Clean design
  • Early-stage brand definition
  • More empathetic help text and user manuals
  • Ease of use
  • Great packaging
Cora is a prime example of sleek packaging of a new feminine product that doesn’t have to be pink.

At the GUILD, a networking service created by women for women, we took a close look at these companies and designed our website and matchmaking platform with these new aesthetic principles in mind. Not only do we offer a user-centric design of the service but we also want to engage women in topics they deeply care about. That’s why we decided to host a networking event focused on FemTech.

As a digital health expert in my previous career, I’ve witnessed a trend in the female-centric approach to creating devices such as the aforementioned wearable breast pump Willow, and smart trackers like Opter or AVA. I also noticed that all these companies are competing for the attention of busy women at a very particular time in their reproductive prime.

We recently spoke to GUILD Member Anke Huiskes about how she has benefited from her experience as a young professional mother in her role as Director of Sales at Willow.

I believe there’s a lot of room for development and a huge opportunity to collaborate. We need to view other companies in the industry as partners rather than competitors.

With this in mind, our By HER For HER event on March 30th will be at Plug and Play in Sunnyvale who are graciously offering their space for the evening. We’re inviting female and male entrepreneurs to share their stories, showcase their beautiful innovations to women who are open to sharing feedback and exploring opportunities to collaborate.

Already confirmed for By HER For HER: Bloomlife, HealthTech Capital, Opter, and UDoTest.

We have the great pleasure to announce a few of the companies already on the list and welcome you to join in. If you’re a FemTech-er in the Bay Area, apply by March 3, 2017, to participate in the evening and showcase your product to a curated audience of peers, mentors, and investors.

We look forward to an exciting evening exploring the female tech industry and continuing to close the gender gap in health-tech.

Get your ticket or apply now via Eventbrite.