When we think of technology, it’s often male entrepreneurs that come to mind. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others like them have shaped the technology we use today, but they’re also the reason that many tech industries jobs are still dominated by men.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t women in these fields, just that they aren’t the first ones that come to mind when you think about technology. Ida Tin, the CEO of Clue — a period tracking app — recently coined the phrase FemTech.
What is FemTech and what does it mean for the future of tech industries?
What is FemTech?
According to Clue CEO Ida Tin, who coined the phrase, FemTech is “any technology geared toward improving women’s lives.” This could be anything from her period tracking app to sex toys, birth control apps, pelvic floor exercisers, or even tampons that could potentially diagnose vaginal health problems.
As more of these products start to emerge, these startups start to look for investors — another male-dominated field in many cases. In fact, only 7% of venture capitalists are female. Men are hesitant to say that they’ve got a women’s sex toy company as part of their investment portfolio which is where the name FemTech comes from.
Instead of saying “I’m investing in a sex toy company,” they can simply say they have FemTech companies as part of their portfolio.
Medical technology is advancing faster than investors can keep up with it. From nanotherapy to artificial intelligence, technology is shaping every single aspect of our lives. Today, there are dozens of FemTech startups across the globe. They may offer different products or services but they all have the same goal — using technology to improve women’s lives.
You may already be familiar with quite a few FemTech startups already.
Carrot Fertility, for example, works with companies around the country to cover the cost IVF and fertility treatments for their employees. They provide an app that helps patients keep track of everything from pricing to appointments, and their service covers everything from IVF and fertility testing to egg and embryo freezing and storage. Mobile medical apps are becoming more common and some are even earning approval from the FDA to offer medical advice.
Cora is a subscription service that makes it easier for women to obtain organic pads and tampons, as well as learn more about their period. In addition to providing organic menstrual products, each kit purchased supports education and provides menstrual supplies to a young woman in a developing country.
Thinx is an underwear brand for those of us who hate both pads and tampons. This period-proof underwear is comfortable, thin and stretchy but allows you to remain comfortable through your period without needing to spend extra money on pads or tampons. Some styles can absorb up to four tampons worth of menstrual blood without leaking.
All of these brands have two things in common. They were all started by women, and they’re all using technology to make women’s lives better. That is the essence of FemTech.
The Future of FemTech
It might have taken until 2020 to get a name for it, but FemTech is shaping the way women will maintain their health and happiness in the future. Today, you can order everything from birth control to tampons from the comfort of your own home.
Tomorrow, you may be able to have breast cancer diagnosed by simply wearing a bra or other information collected by inserting a tampon — all without ever needing to take a trip to the doctor. FemTech might have finally found its name but women have been shaping technology for much longer than that.
With its own category, hopefully, FemTech startups will be able to find the support they need to thrive in a male-dominated field.
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