We all know about the dreaded ratio; we all want to change it. There are reasons women are underrepresented in most roles of the startup and tech world. One of the most visible is the role of the founder. Far fewer women start businesses than men — around 30 percent of all companies in the US are owned by women. But more acute is how many of those female business-owners raise venture capital. In the first half of this year, just 13 percent of all VC deals went to female-led companies.
Without getting into a well-trod debate about why that is (arguments include “women don’t start as many companies,” and “the male-dominated VC world is full of intentional or unintentional sexists”), let’s reflect on this smidgeon of progress, according to new data from Pitchbook.
In 2004, only four percent of companies which raised venture capital were founded by women. Ugly. For the first half of this year, 13 percent of VC deals went to female-led companies.
That means women took an additional one percent of all VC deals each year for the past nine years. That’s not exactly a revolution. But it’s at least movement in the right direction, no matter how small. My hope for the next ten years is that the percentages increase exponentially. More visible women in leadership roles at companies can only inspire more women to lean in, or follow their dreams, or take the plunge, or shoot for the stars, or whatever metaphor works at the end of this type of sentence.
I’ll know we’re there when I stop getting pitches that point out “AND SHE’S A FEMALE FOUNDER!” as a selling point for coverage. “Founding while female” is great, of course, but it shouldn’t be newsworthy. It should be business as usual.
Women have especially changed the ratio in the retail and consumer services industries, where their companies have a 40 percent market share of venture deals. In software, however, only 10 percent of deals went to female-led companies. In this case, the scarcity argument may actually carry some weight: The percentage of women graduating with degrees in computer science has actually been in a slump since the mid-2000s.
[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]