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Extra Hurdles

Running a startup is challenging, and there are additional hurdles for women who've founded or co-founded new companies, Y Combinator's Jessica Livingston tells Fortune.

Livingston herself co-founded Y Combinator with her husband, Paul Graham, and they've turned it into a successful incubator that's churned out Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, and more. But, she hasn't always been visible as a cofounder, she tells Fortune in a Q&A.

"[E]ven though I was a co-founder Paul always got the attention as the founder. I was never referenced as a co-founder," Livingston says. "I didn't care because I was focused on helping our companies grow and running YC. It's easy for women who are not the face of a company to not exist."

According to Livingston, one of the biggest challenges for female founders can be fundraising, as most investors are men with their own biases. "[W]e hear from many of our YC female founders who have male co-founders that investors will directly address their male counterparts, and ignore the women, when the startup is pitching investors," she says.

Y Combinator initially itself only funded a small percentage of female-run startups — 4 percent of companies that graduated from its program in 2011 had at least one female founder — but Livingston seeks to increase that percentage from 25 percent for the most recent class to 50 percent.

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