Understanding the Gender Gap in Startups

There is a clear non-debatable gender gap in startups and men are unfortunately dominating this field. This is especially true for tech startups and most STEM-related industries which already have a large gender gap within just employment. Let's start by exposing the gender gap issue within tech and startups. According to Silicon Valley Bank the percentage of US startups with at least one female founders at 28%. This is just one female founder among many male founders in a team, so the actual distribution of female founders in absolute numbers is much smaller than 28%.

Of all the reasons we see less female representation, one strong variable is the fact that they are a whole lot less likely to raise outside capital and fund their startups. Men are more likely to raise outside capital (venture capital funding), and it's not a small percentage as all-male teams are 4 times more likely to receive funding compared to just teams with at least one woman in them.

A major part of the problem is that the gatekeepers, partners in Venture Capital firms, are majority male and white. In 2018 82% of U.S. venture capitalists were men and 70% white and from the small percentage of female venture capitalists, the majority were white.

It is not all bad as there are signs of improvement and more startups with women founders are on the rise, but that should not dampen our ambition to do better as a community of entrepreneurs and startups. Some of the actions we can take to start are to stop asking what women should do in order to change, but instead, ask the people who are perpetuating these stereotypes and biases what they can do to change. There are countless articles about what a woman should do to increase her chances such as signing her emails with her initials indeed of her name. I empathize with the suggestion and believe it works, but that seems to cement the status quo. A stronger idea is to increase the representation of women further up the funnel, making it normal to see them in entrepreneurial settings. as supporting and promoting female founders and have them on the panels that are usually male-dominated. It is still important to notice it is not just gender at play but race, women of color have it even more difficult than white women in the industry.

I'm obviously not saying anything new, or anything which you have not heard, or anything which we do not have the data to prove, but the more we echo this, the more often we point it out the faster we will bridge the current gap!

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