More than Half of US Startups Lack Women in Leadership, According to Silicon Valley Bank’s 2020 Women in US Technology Leadership Report

Company news  |  March 5, 2020

Report finds that about 40% of US startups have at least one woman in an executive position or on their board of directors

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 5, 2020 - Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the bank of the world’s most innovative companies and their investors, today released its 2020 Women in US Technology Leadership Report. The report reveals that the gender parity gap persists for women in US tech leadership, with 42% of startups having at least one woman in an executive position and 40% have at least one woman on the board of directors. The survey also found that 30% of US startups have a program in place to increase women in leadership roles.  

As part of SVB’s annual Startup Outlook Report, the company recently surveyed 691 tech and healthcare founders and executives in the US to get a quantitative measure of how startups are doing when it comes to opening paths for women to leadership roles.

“Clearly, there is still a lot of work to do. But I believe the innovation economy is dynamic and open to making positive change, which is why I continue to be optimistic,” said Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank. “We know companies are more likely to thrive when they are made up of individuals with different voices, experiences and backgrounds. We encourage everyone in the ecosystem to support diverse teams.”

SVB’s Women in US Technology Leadership Report measures the percentage of companies with at least one woman in a leadership position and compares how startups’ views of the innovation economy differ based on whether a woman was on the founding team. Key survey findings include:

  • 42% of US startups have at least one woman in the C-suite and 40% have at least one woman on the board of directors
  • US healthcare startups are more likely to have a woman in a leadership role than technology companies. Fifty percent of healthcare startups report at least one female C-suite executive and 51% report at least one woman on the board of directors.
  • 14% of US startups have a female CEO. For startups with a female founder, 46% have a female CEO (often a startup founder serves as CEO). Conversely, just 2% of startups with a male-only founding team have a female CEO.
  • The percentage of US startups with at least one female founder has been growing in recent years, and now stands at 28% (from 22% in 2017). Nearly four in 10 US healthcare startups have a least one female founder.
  • Startups with a female founder are slightly less likely to rely on venture capital and slightly more likely to tap friends and family for their next source of funding.
  • A small percentage of US startups set hiring goals specifically for women in startup executive positions (17%). Those companies using goals more typically apply them companywide (36%) or to attract female board members (33%).
  • The survey also asked respondents to describe the types of programs in place to increase the women in leadership positions. The most frequently cited programs include a flexible work environment and recruiting outreach and interview techniques.

The full report is available at

Follow the conversation on Twitter at @SVB_Financial with #StartupOutlook

About Silicon Valley Bank
For more than 35 years, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has helped innovative companies and their investors move bold ideas forward, fast. SVB provides targeted financial services and expertise through its offices in innovation centers around the world. With commercial, international and private banking services, SVB helps address the unique needs of innovators. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Eileen Nolan
Silicon Valley Bank