Mar 16, 2021 - Economy

Venture capital is still a boys' club

a woman sign with dollar print on it

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The percentage of female decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms continues to climb, albeit slowly, according to a new Axios analysis.

By the numbers: 243 of 1,716 decision-makers are women, or nearly 14.2%. Past marks were 12.4% (2020), 9.7% (2019), 8.9% (2018), 7% (2017), and 5.7% (2016).

  • 61% of the analyzed firms did not have any female decision-makers, which is similar to last year's figure.
  • The percentage of firms with two or more female decision-makers rose from 9.7% to 11.6%, although it's 26.6% for firms that raised $1 billion or more between 2015 and 2020.

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 (2015–2020). We then examined the current websites of those firms to determine decision-makers — rather than simply counting anyone listed as "partner."

  • For supplemental data we used SEC filings and PitchBook.
  • We excluded administrative partners, including CFOs and heads of IR and marketing.

The good news is that the percentage of female decision-makers has more than doubled in five years. And it may be even better if we included smaller funds.

The bad news is that the industry isn't close to parity, even in terms of new hires. We identified around 697 more decision-makers than we did five years ago, with women representing just 24.5% of the increase — in an era when many VC firms talk a big game about the value of gender diversification.

The bottom line is the same as last year's: Venture capital is doing better — but it's not doing well.

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