Eight percent ain’t great, but it’s better than nothing.
That’s how much of the total pool of venture capital cash female founders raised during the first half of 2010, according to a study by CB Insights. And while the bigger numbers on the male side of the equation have dominated the coverage of the study, women’s numbers are up from 4.6% reported in 2000. The study differs from earlier examinations of the VC industry by focusing on so-called “human capital”–that is, who’s getting the funding.
Female business boosters, including Shaherose Charania of Women 2.0 and Wendy Beecham from Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives, said the results were fairly predictable. Not inspiring, but predictable.
“There’s corporate culture, psychology, and skill set issues all going on, but the biggest issue I’ve found [affecting women getting funded] is networking,” said Beecham. “There’s unconscious gender bias that goes on, on both sides.”
But Charania disagrees. “That 8% is not attributable to gender. The funnel of women in business and technology who are starting companies is already pretty small,” she says. “And then those that are doing scalable businesses? That’s even smaller.”
That elite circle is set to expand if recent milestones are any indicator. The number of women receiving their PhDs in the U.S. now outnumber the men. There are more females entering as MIT freshmen than men and there are more women filed as “single head of households” than men. These indicators add up to what the Kauffman Foundation’s Lesa Mitchell calls a “tipping point” for women launching tech companies.
“The feeder group” of women who could evolve into CEOs “is exploding,” says Mitchell. “What’s important now is surrounding those women with the right people.”
And if those people have fat stacks of cash to invest, so much the better.