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The plain numbers about women in tech – The VCs

I’m not much for the “women in tech” stuff — preferring to prove equality rather than beg for it — but sometimes the gender imbalance in this industry is so damaging that it would be unethical for me to not call it out.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post titled The Plain Numbers About Women in Tech, presenting the raw data to prove that the highest profile startups employ very few women, and moreover that the vast majority of women who do work for startups are in roles that involve selling the product, not making it.

Some people shared in my dismay. Some people offered up the names of startups that have a more gender-balanced staff. Some people simply defended the places they work saying, “We’ve tried!” or “Does it really matter?”

A year has passed, and in a future post I’ll go back through those companies and check to see if their ratios have changed. But there’s something deeper here that I’d like to explore first.

On Twitter the other day, I saw some investor friends congratulate a fellow VC on being promoted at his firm. I clicked through to the firm’s website and navigated over to their team page. I immediately noticed something — all men. So I checked out some other hotshot VC firms off the top of my head — all men, almost all of them. I’d always suspected it I guess, but here they all were staring back at me.

As a user experience strategist, I have spent the entirety of my career devising ways to get companies to better understand the needs of their target audiences. Building a culture of empathy within the business is my most fundamental goal, and the greatest obstacle I face is convincing upper management that their customers are nothing like them, that they have to think outside of themselves in order to succeed.

So here’s my question: if all-male venture capital firms are investing in all-male startups, where is the female influence coming from? Who is guiding these companies on when and how to target women? With women making 85% of purchasing decisions and far surpassing men in their Internet usage, doesn’t it seem wrong that hardly any women are involved in controlling which companies create our future?

I thought it was time to take an empirical look at the gender ratio of some popular venture capital firms by looking at their team pages, as I previously did with the startups. I limited my research to firms that have a focus in early-stage funding, have funded > 5 brand name startups, and have funds worth > $100 million. Again, this is by no means a comprehensive study, but this is what I found.

Take a look for yourself…and let me know what you see.

NOTE: I excluded female staff NOT in investment positions (e.g., accounting, legal, biz dev, operations, admin) from the counts below. Yes, I did this all by hand.

High Profile Early-Stage Venture Capital Firms

Accel Partners

Founded Year: 1983
Team Page: http://www.accel.com/people/index.php
Women Investors: 4/40
Fund Size: ~$6 Billion [source]
Portfolio: comScore, 99 Designs, Birchbox, Diapers.com, Etsy, Kayak, Trulia, Groupon, LearnVest
Location: Palo Alto, CA; New York, NY; London, UK; Beijing, China; Shanghai, China; Bangalore, India; New Delhi, India

Andreessen Horowitz

Founded Year: 2009
Team Page: http://a16z.com
Women Investors: 0/6
Fund Size: $1.5 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Airbnb, Fab, Facebook, Groupon, Pinterest, Zynga, Skype
Location: Menlo Park, CA

August Capital

Founded Year: 1995
Team Page: http://www.augustcap.com/team/
Women Investors: 0/8
Fund Size: ~$1.3 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Six Apart, Aardvark, Evite, RelayRides, Blippy, Visio, Livemocha
Location: Menlo Park, CA

Bain Capital Ventures

Founded Year: 1984
Team Page: http://www.baincapitalventures.com/your-team/
Women Investors: 1/31
Fund Size: ~$1.5 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Blip.tv, Jott Networks, Lala, Rent The Runway, Color
Location: Boston, MA; New York, NY; Palo Alto, CA

Benchmark Capital

Founded Year: 1995
Team Page: http://www.benchmark.com/people/#
Women Investors: 0/9
Fund Size: ~$3 Billion [source]
Portfolio: 1-800-Flowers, eBags, Dropbox, Zipcar, Instagram, Twitter
Location: Menlo Park, CA; Herzliya, Israel

Bessemer Venture Partners

Founded Year: 1911
Team Page: http://www.bvp.com/Team/
Women Investors: 1/39
Fund Size: ~$2 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Pinterest, Shopify, Knewton, Twilio, Diapers.com, Soap.com, LinkedIn
Location: Menlo Park, CA; Larchmont, NY; Cambridge, MA; Herzliya, Israel; Mumbai, India

Charles River Ventures

Founded Year: 1970
Team Page: http://www.crv.com/team
Women Investors: 0/10
Fund Size: ~$2.1 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Yammer, HubSpot, Scribd, Wanderfly, Zendesk, Geni, Twitter
Location: Cambridge, MA; Menlo Park, CA

DFJ Gotham

Founded Year: 2000
Team Page: http://dfjgotham.com/team.html
Women Investors: 0/5
Fund Size: ~$6 Billion [source]
Portfolio: ADstruc, Drop.io, Medialets, Mimeo, Solvate, Totsy, Yipit
Location: New York, NY

First Round Capital

Founded Year: 2005
Team Page: http://www.firstround.com/team/
Women Investors: 0/6
Fund Size: ~$126 Million [source]
Portfolio: Fab, Get Satisfaction, GroupMe, ModCloth, Path, Taskrabbit
Location: San Francisco, CA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA

Foundry Group

Founded Year: 2010
Team Page: http://www.foundrygroup.com/team/
Women Investors: 0/4
Fund Size: ~$225 Million [source]
Portfolio: Fitbit, CrowdTap, Makerbot Industries, Gist, Cheezburger, Zynga, Medialets
Location: Boulder, CO

General Catalyst Partners

Founded Year: 2000
Team Page: http://www.generalcatalyst.com/team
Women Investors: 1/19 (early-stage)
Fund Size: ~$500 Million [source]
Portfolio: Airbnb, GroupMe, Hunch, Kayak, Rue La La, Chloe + Isabel, Upromise
Location: Cambridge, MA; Palo Alto, CA

Google Ventures

Founded Year: 2009
Team Page: http://www.googleventures.com/team
Women Investors: 2/13
Fund Size: ~$200 Million (annually) [source]
Portfolio: HomeAway, Nest, Read It Later, 23AndMe, Signpost, ThinkNear, RelayRides
Location: Mountain View, CA; Cambridge, MA; Seattle, WA; New York, NY

Greycroft Partners

Founded Year: 2006
Team Page: http://www.greycroftpartners.com/team/
Women Investors: 2/6
Fund Size: ~$200 Million [source]
Portfolio: Buddy Media, Klout, Pulse, Joyent, Crowd Fusion, The Huffington Post, Babble
Location: New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA

Greylock Partners

Founded Year: 1965
Team Page: http://greylock.com/teams
Women Investors: 1/16
Fund Size: ~$2 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Airbnb, Constant Contact, Coupons.com, Facebook, Groupon, Pandora
Location: Menlo Park, CA; Cambridge, MA; London, UK; Beijing, China; Bangalore, India

Highland Capital Partners

Founded Year: 1988
Team Page: http://www.hcp.com/highland_team
Women Investors: 2/27
Fund Size: ~$3 Billion [source]
Portfolio: CafeMom, Gemvara, Digg, Pixable, Rent The Runway, Paper.li, Yipit
Location: Cambridge, MA; Menlo Park, CA; Geneva, Switzerland, London, UK; Shanghai, China

Khosla Ventures

Founded Year: 2004
Team Page: http://www.khoslaventures.com/khosla/people.html
Women Investors: 0/8
Fund Size: ~$1.05 Billion [source]
Portfolio: HowAboutWe, RockMelt, Xobni, Square, AppNexus, ZocDoc
Location: Menlo Park, CA

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Founded Year: 1972
Team Page: http://kpcb.com/teams
Women Investors: 10/44
Fund Size: ~$900 Million (early-stage) [source]
Portfolio: Blue Nile, Zaarly, Flipboard, Groupon, Klout, Spotify, Path, Square, Nest
Location: Menlo Park, NY; Beijing, China; Shanghai, China

Matrix Partners

Founded Year: 1977
Team Page: http://www.matrixpartners.com/site/team_landing/
Women Investors: 0/9
Fund Size: ~$1.25 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Gilt Groupe, HubSpot, Care.com, Airvana, Apple (once upon a time)
Location: Palo Alto, CA; Cambridge, MA; New York, NY; Mumbai, India; Beijing, China; Shanghai, China

Polaris Venture Partners

Founded Year: 1996
Team Page: http://www.polarisventures.com/WhoWeAre/OurTeam.asp
Women Investors: 2/18
Fund Size: ~$3.5 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Automattic, Confluence, Formspring, JibJab, Turntable,
Location: Waltham, MA; Cambridge, MA; Palo Alto, CA; New York, NY; Dublin, Ireland

Rho Ventures

Founded Year: 1981
Team Page: http://www.rhoventures.com/team-overview.htm
Women Investors: 1/15
Fund Size: ~$510 Million [source]
Portfolio: Bluefly, GetGlue, OMGPOP, iVillage, Tapjoy, TACODA, Everyday Health
Location: New York, NY; Palo Alto, CA; Montreal, Canada

RRE Ventures

Founded Year: 1994
Team Page: http://www.rre.com/#team
Women Investors: 0/8
Fund Size: ~$137 Million [source]
Portfolio: Betaworks, Bit.ly, HowAboutWe, Yipit, Xobni, Kik, GetGlue, Solvate
Location: New York, NY

Sequoia Capital

Founded Year: 1972
Team Page: http://www.sequoiacap.com/us/early
Women Investors: 10*/62 (early-stage) *all women are in the India and China locations
Fund Size: ~$1.3 Billion [source]
Portfolio: Airbnb, Funny or Die, Kayak, LinkedIn, Square, Eventbrite, Dropbox
Location: Menlo Park, CA; Herzliya, Israel; Beijing, China; Shanghai, China; Hong Kong, China; Bangalore, India; Mumbai, India; New Delhi, India

Spark Capital

Founded Year: 2005
Team Page: http://www.sparkcapital.com/team
Women Investors: 0/7
Fund Size: ~$720 Million [source]
Startups Funded: Twitter, Tumblr, Svpply, Runkeeper, Foursquare, Boxee
Location: Boston, MA

True Ventures

Founded Year: 2006
Team Page: http://www.trueventures.com/team/
Women Investors: 0/5
Fund Size: ~$378 Million [source]
Portfolio: 20×200, Automattic, Fitbit, Assistly, GoodReads, Plancast, About.me, Typekit
Location: Palo Alto, CA; San Francisco, CA; Falls, VA

Union Square Ventures

Founded Year: 2003
Team Page: http://www.usv.com/team/
Women Investors: 1/6
Fund Size: ~$450 Million [source]
Portfolio: Etsy, Boxee, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Meetup, Zynga
Location: New York, NY

Targeted to Women

A few female-led venture firms have cropped up with the mission to finance female-led startups, but they’re all managing funds well under $100 Million and are generally recognized as angel investors:

Golden Seeds

Founded Year: 2004
Team Page: http://www.goldenseeds.com/Funds/our_team
Women Investors: 6/8
Fund Size: ~$26.5 Million [source]
Portfolio: AboutOne, Carnegie Speech, DRY Soda, Fashion Playtes, LARK, Little Passports, Lovesac, Honestly Now
Location: New York, NY

Women’s Venture Capital Fund

Founded Year: 2010
Team Page: http://www.womensvcfund.com/about/team/
Women Investors: 3/3
Fund Size: Unknown
Portfolio: Ivy Corp
Location: Palo Alto, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Portland, OR

BELLE Capital

Founded Year: 2010
Team Page: http://www.bellevc.com/belle-angel-investor-team.html
Women Investors: 10/11
Fund Size: Unknown
Portfolio: Current Motor Company, Michelle’s Miracle
Location: Detroit, MI

JumpThru

Founded Year: 2011
Team Page: http://jumpthru.net/team/
Women Investors: 1/1
Fund Size: N/A
Portfolio: N/A
Location: New York, NY

Joanne Wilson

More info: O’Reilly Radar, The Next Web
Fund Size: N/A
Portfolio: Curbed (Eater/Racked), Food52, Red Stamp, Rick’s Picks, Hot Bread Kitchen, Gotham Gym, The Moon Group, Catchafire, Loverly, Daily Worth and MOUSE
Location: New York, NY

Bucking the trend

VC firms that aren’t specifically targeting female-run startups, but who have a predominance of female investors:

StarVest Partners

Founded Year: 1998
Team Page: http://www.starvestpartners.com/team/investment-team/
Women Investors: 5/6
Fund Size: ~$400 Million [source]
Portfolio: iCrossing, Insurance.com, ideeli, Bluestreak, Host Analytics
Location: New York, NY

DBL Investors

Founded Year: 2008
Team Page: http://www.dblinvestors.com/team.php
Women Investors: 5/8
Fund Size: ~$140 Million [source]
Portfolio: Tesla Motors, Pandora, Livescribe, Ecologic
Location: San Francisco, CA

Am I missing something?

So what do these numbers tell you? Have I forgotten about a VC firm with predominantly female investors? Am I unaware of some firms for-women-by-women?

Please set the record straight! Or share your thoughts on why we’re seeing this unsettling trend, and what we can do to make it right.

Further Reading

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  • Sheryl Schultz

    Thanks for this post. You absolutely got it right. Re: Golden Seeds. In addition to their $26.5MM fund, they have a network of 235 individual investors that are funding high growth women owned businesses across the country. Since 2005, they have invested $29MM in 42 companies.

  • Gabby Hon

    Whitney, would it be a terrible imposition to inquire as to the founding dates of all the firms? Primarily the first batch. My thought process is this: because women have only, really, been actively in the wider workforce for ~40 years (And I think it can be fairly said that no real strides into management and the C-suite were made until the 80s), there does not exist the same level of personal wealth that would enable women to become investors, particularly in the very large, well-known firms.

    We’re also talking about a generational difference: women who are old enough to have amassed significant wealth and influence are from a generation in which having children and staying home to raise them was of high importance than career and wealth development.

    Once again, we have the Baby Gap as well as the Women Haven’t Been Working In the Professional World As Long As Men Gap. So, that women lag men in significant percentages across many areas really isn’t surprising.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      Gabby, I had intended to include the founding years, but then left them out at the last minute. The post is now updated. Turns out there’s no correlation at all between age of fund and gender ratio. In fact two of the oldest funds, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins, both founded in 1972, have the most female investors.

    • http://albedrio.com Marcos Polanco

      Gabby,

      Take a look at the supply chain for HOW these individuals made it to their investment post. The pathway includes, typically, hitting it out of the park as a tech CEO. Now, where do these CEOs come from? Typically, they are software geeks. So, without conducting a scientific study, the root cause of the lack of female VCs is the lack of female software geeks. Though Silicon Valley in particular is far from a meritocracy, as Vivek Wadhwa has so amply documented, the pathway does not include wealth as VCs manage funds on behalf of third parties. Notice that the leading VC in Silicon Valley today is Marc Andreessen, and he’s just 40.

      • Gabby Hon

        The singular of ‘data’ is not ‘anecdote’. Without a great deal more information about these investment firms, their investors and the backgrounds of those investors, we don’t know anything. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.

        To be honest, this is something worthy of considerable research. I mean, it’s interesting that women aren’t represented in higher numbers in the tech industry — but I’m more intrigued by *why* it’s interesting. I mean, where do we get the notion that a) more women should be in tech and b) what the hell would it mean if there were more women in tech?

        And, of course: slippery slope! Because if you’re going to start counting according to external differentiators such as sex/gender, then well, race is next. And then sexual orientation. And then disability. And then. . . And then . . . And then. It honestly never stops.

        The important question — the only question that matters — is whether these investors are bringing experiences and points of view that are helping their firms earn a bunch of money. And if not, then that’s no one’s problem but the firm’s.

        The only diversity that counts — the only kind that will deliver any kind of long-term benefit — is diversity of the mind.

  • http://nov8r.com Steven A. Lowe

    Very interesting research Whitney, thank you.

    The question that leaps to mind: is there actually a large enough pool of qualified women to balance things out?

    For example, if there are 5M programmers in the USA and only 500K are women, having an idealized workplace gender balance of 51%-49% (to reflect the general population) in all IT companies is simply going to be impossible.

    What does your research say? Are there enough qualified women to go ’round?

    Keep up the great work!

    –S

  • http://www.marketpublique.com Pamela Castillo

    This is a great and eye-opening article, thanks for doing the research!

    Good news: DFJ Gotham has added a women venture partner – Joy Marcus! http://www.dfjgotham.com/bio_marcus.html

    Heard her speak at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Festival and at a breakfast put together by DailyWorth and she’s fabulous and super smart.

    +1 woman #ctr!

  • http://albedrio.com Marcos Polanco

    Whitney, you indicate that female internet usage should be an indicator, or that there should be some correlation with the presence of female venture capitalists. Note that that massification of the internet is a very recent event…it is only quite recently that design and marketing skills, not raw techie geekiness, became an important differentiator in the tech industry. Thus, the females that will become the relevant VCs given the trends you correctly indicate are probably, and quite hopefully, hard at work creating the companies that are riding the current trends. VCs today come from another generation when none of the trends that you point to were yet in place.

  • http://www.adventurista.com Sarah

    Wow – Whitney. This must have taken an incredible amount of work to put together. Thank you so much for doing it… really good for people to see!

    Sarah

  • http://www.lightningbuy.com Carissa Ganelli

    Hi Whitney,

    Thanks for putting the spotlight on the paucity of female representation. I have to say that in my 20-year career, I have NEVER experienced as much sexism as I have in the past few months trying to raise money for my startup. Here’s a sample of actual comments that were made to my face by VCs (not angels):

    “Do you have kids?”
    “Who’s watching them?”
    “I can’t believe your husband married you.”
    “Have you heard of Golden Seeds?”
    “Do what you know like something related to babies or fashion”
    “You’ll probably need help with the financials”
    (even though I have an MBA in finance from Kellogg).

    I can’t make this offensive cr*p up.

    • http://madebycori.com Cori Johnson

      Wow. That’s disgusting. I hope there someday is a way to name names to call these assholes out for their unacceptable behavior.

  • http://www.redstamp.com erin newkirk

    This is the crux of the argument for me. I am baffled by it.

    “With women making 85% of purchasing decisions and far surpassing men in their Internet usage, doesn’t it seem wrong that hardly any women are involved in controlling which companies create our future?”

    That being said, it’s exciting to think about how much opportunity there is out there for Internet start-ups and investors that really “get” women.

    #ctr

  • http://pipelinefellowship.com Natalia Oberti Noguera (@nakisnakis on Twitter)

    Whitney,

    Thanks for highlighting the lack of diversity in the VC ecosystem.

    Your post particularly resonated with me as I’m working to increase diversity in the angel investing community.

    According to a report by the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, only 12% of U.S. angel investors were women, and only 5% were minorities in 2011.

    The Pipeline Fellowship trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice. Fellows commit to invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture in exchange for equity and a board seat.

    Here’s to your upcoming progress report indeed being a _progress_ report!

  • http://joandelilah.com Joan Pepin

    Excellent research! And some good points about the baby gap, etc. There are some explanations, but at the end of the day, a phenomena I see at work all throughout Silicon Valley is that these VCs apply their “pattern matching” thinking when they decide which founders to fund, and they then encourage or force those founders to follow the same “pattern matching” when they hire their senior management teams. Those senior managers then roll this downhill and since the original “pattern” the VCs try to match is their own reflections, you wind up with a bunch of men who all went to to the same five schools running everything. This then causes a whole lot of groupthink and negates all of the advantages of having a diverse and creative workforce.

    • http://about.me/RohanSJ Rohan Jayasekera

      I’m glad that Joan Pepin brought up the “pattern matching” method of deciding where to invest, which to me seems like the strongest force in perpetuating the status quo. It may not matter as much who pattern-matches (men vs. women investors) as who dominates the pattern being matched (founders who are almost all men) — though I would still hope that women investors, as the “newcomers”, would pattern-match less slavishly and then, as Joan points out, would be less likely to impose past patterns on those they fund.

  • http://twitter.com/christine_tsai Christine Tsai

    Hi Whitney – 500 Startups didn’t make the list (our fund size is much smaller than all these firms), but our investment team is 50% women. (2 out of 4), and we also have 1 non-investment woman partner (Christen O’Brien).

  • http://www.hamutalm.com Hamutal Meridor

    Thanks for this important post Whitney!

    I believe the problem grows even deeper. The predominantly male funding scene sets an inherent male preference in the whole fund raising process, as this VentureBeat post suggests:
    “Women aren’t as good and don’t like fundraising because the current mode of fundraising is built by men and for men. Most of the characteristics that are best for fundraising are especially aligned with typically male characteristics — characteristics like asking for what we want without apology or projecting confidence bordering on arrogance.”
    http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/06/women-founded-funded-startups/

  • Joy Marcus

    Id like to give DFJ Gotham credit for one (me). You will see me on the website.
    However, we have a long way to go all of us.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      My mistake! That’s now fixed. Sincere apologies and thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  • http://www.nycif.org Mark Chou

    For what it’s worth, the New York City Investment Fund (where I work) currently has a team of 5 investment professionals, with 2 associates supporting three female partners investing primarily in enterprise IT, cleantech, biotech, and consumer/retail companies in the 5 boroughs. Definitely not the norm, but perhaps an encouraging data point for you.

    As a side point, I think it’s the DFJ network with ~$6bn AUM; I’d venture to say that DFJ Gotham is significantly smaller than that.

  • http://thedailymuse.com Alex C.

    Thank you so much for sharing this research with us, Whitney – it’s such an important topic!

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  • http://www.3percentconf.com Kat Gordon

    I live in Silicon Valley yet work in another field where women are grossly under-represented: advertising. Only 3% of creative directors are women, despite the fact that women control 85% of consumer spending. My favorite comment from above is Erin’s: “That being said, it’s exciting to think about how much opportunity there is out there for Internet start-ups and investors that really “get” women.”

    There are riches beyond compare available to “Guys Who Get It” — that is men who understand that involving women + investing in their ideas goes far beyond gender-equity — it’s very, very smart business.

    • http://www.redstamp.com erin newkirk

      Kat,

      It’s no surprise you are in advertising with the ability to spot market opportunity a mile away. :)

      As I wrote my comment last night, I mused over how we have to continue to relive the same struggle over + over that has played out in consumer packaged goods and auto and many other industries. This “crazy” notion that women represent a lot of untapped buying power.

      Feels only right that someone in advertising will come up with today’s “soap opera a-ha” for VCs. I’m betting it’s a woman.

  • http://jessicavallance.co.uk Jess

    Is it really necessary to BE part of the target audience in order to understand it? I would have thought that UX design answer would be ‘no’.

    And maybe it perpetuates the idea of the great gender divide to say that men could never understand what women want?

    I, too, am interested in WHY it would be this way – but I don’t think it makes logical sense to demand change without good reason. I’m not sure that better serving the needs of a female market is a good enough reason.

  • http://www.EarthTechling.com Patricia Marchetti

    This is illuminating, but not surprising. It’s one reason why I’ve seen more events and organizations spring up for women entrepreneurs like me.

    I can’t speak for all of the VCs. But I recently met Brad Feld at Foundry Group and despite the fact that they don’t have female investors there, Brad seems to be working hard with the National Center for Women in IT on changing the equation. More female tech geniuses will someday equate to more entrepreneurs that eventually become VCs.

  • http://realtismoi.wordpress.com/ kylie sachs

    Whitney – it’s interesting what you learn when you let the facts speak for themselves. We hear a lot about how more women should be engineers and that will address the issue but I am not sure that is right…how many of the current VCs are engineers? Many certainly but I asked that question on a panel once and the response was less than 30% of VCs at the firms we were discussing. So what to do? I think keep executing like you do and making your work speak for itself. I have my own thoughts on this here: http://realtismoi.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/stranger-in-a-strange-land-or-being-a-woman-in-tech/ from back in November. KS

  • http://averageus.com Lon Hetrick

    Whitney, I think that people in a free society will naturally gravitate to what interests them and what they are qualified for. I don’t think there’s a need to see a societal inequity behind the phenomenon you document here, anymore than there would be that there are very few female construction workers and mechanics. People are driven by interests; they don’t mindlessly self-distribute evenly into career paths that reflect the general demographics of the population.

    If your research included interviews with male dominated VC firms and you uncovered a bias against women, yes, that would indicate an ethical problem. But as it is, I must agree with Gabby above and say I can’t see any ethical issue here at all.

    Of course, full disclosure, I’m a man.

    • http://madebycori.com Cori Johnson

      “People are driven by interests; they don’t mindlessly self-distribute evenly into career paths that reflect the general demographics of the population.”

      I disagree, Lon. Children do grow up with some inherent understanding of gender identity, but interests are encouraged or discouraged by the socialization we receive from birth. It’s not “mindless” to be influenced by the implicit expectations of our culture. To say that there are not a lot of women in tech (and, by extension, VC firms) because women aren’t generally interested in tech is to discount the staggering efforts women are making to be seen and succeed in our field. At every turn there are problematic symptoms of inequity: hiring bias in startups; “booth babes” at trade shows; sexist jokes, comments and advances at tech conferences; women being ignored or harassed online or criticized for “attention whoring” for wearing a cardigan in a company photo; and here, male-dominated command of investments. This is not anomalous. This is a trend.

      If you still cannot see the ethical issues, I recommend you look closer before dismissing the concerns as moot.

      • http://averageus.com Lon Hetrick

        I appreciate your perspective. But I confess that I choose (naively, perhaps) to optimistically believe that women in tech or finance or whatever are more self-empowered, and self-determined than you seem to give them credit for. Cultural influences are only that: influences. They can be resisted. If I am naive on this and there is a real problem, then women of America can count on men like me to be part of the solution, not the problem.

  • http://www.naominiles.com Naomi Niles

    Thank you for addressing this, Whitney! It’s super important to talk about.

    You know, I just believe that many women play a different game. Yes, there is some oppression. Being a self-employed young woman, I’ve gotten my fair share directly and indirectly from both men and other women.

    I feel like it’s been worse from other women, ironically (please don’t shoot me for saying so).

    On the other hand, the last few years have taught me a big lesson: If you don’t like the game being played, make your own.

    I don’t think this needs to be about one gender or another either. Just that some of us would rather do things differently. If you have a business that you feel can be profitable and scalable AND you put your passion into it, I really don’t see anything wrong with that.

    In fact, I think the world seriously needs more businesses like this.

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  • http://www.3howards.com Emma

    I just tweeted at you, but I’ll post here too. I’ve noticed this trend in tech and VCs for the last couple of years and appreciate you shedding some light on this topic. I come from a design background and have been working heavily in UI now for the last few years and am getting into more UX (my minor in psychology is finally coming in handy). I’ve noticed that in the visual design and UI world, there are very few women. I’m an active Dribbbler and I can tell you it’s overwhelmingly male. I did a quick search, as I have no access to hard stats to help determine a ratio, on designers with a primary skill set in UI. Out of the top 75 UI designers, only 5 of them are women. At my company alone, there are 4 women in a team of 15. Aside from myself, the other women’s jobs are as follows: database specialist, project manager, and office/accounting manager. I also noticed, as I was registering for our local Startup Weekend event, that the judges and coaches were also primarily male. 1/ 5 judges, 1/10 coaches. I’ll be interested to see what the ratio is for participants.

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  • Jacqui Emerson

    Is there any update on this, or are we still in the same place as we were three years ago?