Microsoft is taking the charge to reduce the gap between the amount of investment women-led startups receive in comparison to men-led startups.

Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, introduced a new startup competition which will award a total of $4 million to two women-led startups. The Female Founders Competition will be open for applications until Sept. 30 for startups in North America, Europe and Israel. M12 and fellow VC partners in the event EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group will shortlist 10 finalists to pitch their ideas to the panel and stand a chance to get funded.

Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of business development, oversees strategic investments for M12. She confirms M12 has a very diverse make up, but that trend doesn’t translate to M12’s own portfolio, with startups founded by women representing only 7.5 percent of investments and with this act they wish to improve the stats and put more women-led startups under spotlight.

M12’s push to recognize female founders comes as Microsoft’s redemption act against its ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit. But in this case, consequences matter especially for construction of a gender equal society.


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