Jul 21, 2020 - Economy

More women are top VC decision-makers, but parity is a long way off

Illustration of a briefcase with a female symbol shaped hole.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There has been a sizable increase in the percentage of female decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms, albeit nothing near parity, according to an Axios analysis.

By the numbers: Nearly 12.4% of decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms are women, up from 9.65% in a similar study conducted in February 2019.

  • Prior marks were 8.93% (2018), 7% (2017), and 5.7% (2016).
  • Overall in 2020, we found 182 female decision-makers among 1,472 total decision-makers at 351 firms.
  • 213 of the firms (61%) did not have any female decision-makers. Only 34 firms (9.7%) had two or more.

Methodology: As in the past, we asked PitchBook for a list of all U.S.-based venture funds that had raised at least one fund of at least $100 million in the past five years. We then examined the current websites of those firms to determine decision-makers — rather than simply counting anyone listed as "partner." We also excluded administrative partners, such as CFOs and heads of marketing.

  • There is a compelling argument that women are more highly represented in sub-$100 million funds, particularly as more women leave established firms to hang their own shingles. But we stuck with the $100 million threshold in order to maintain apples-to-apples consistency.
  • It's also important to note that not all decision-makers — regardless of gender — have equal-sized checkbooks.

What's happening: Many established venture capital firms, almost always founded by men, do seem to be making a more concerted effort to hire women in senior positions. And this has been enabled, in part, by launching new fund strategies that have required new partner hires.

  • But, but, but: Our overall decision-maker sample expanded from 1,088 last year to 1,472 this year. Only 20% of the added positions are filled by women.

The bottom line: Venture capital is doing better when it comes to gender equality — but it's not doing well.

Go deeper: Women's woeful C-suite representation

Go deeper