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2020 WOMEN IN
US TECHNOLOGY LEADERSHIP

GENDER PARITY GAP PERSISTS FOR WOMEN IN US TECH LEADERSHIP 

Silicon Valley Bank’s latest report on the gender gap in startup leadership shows that there is still a long way to go before reaching parity. And only 30% of US startups report that they have programs designed to increase the number of women in leadership roles.

Since 2014, Silicon Valley Bank has measured gender parity in startup leadership as part of our annual Startup Outlook Survey. Please read the
2020 Startup Outlook Report to learn what startups in the US, the UK, China and Canada are saying about business conditions, hiring, raising money and more.

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More than half of US startups lack women in leadership

The lack of women in leadership at US startups may be getting attention from media, lawmakers, founders and VCs, but progress is slow. Only about 40% of US startups have at least one woman in the C-suite or on the board of directors.

Of note, US healthcare startups are more likely than tech companies to have women in leadership roles. More women pursue science-oriented degrees than engineering-focused ones, and the healthcare industry in general has tended to attract more women than the tech sector.

More than half of US startups lack women in leadership
 

About one in four US startups has a woman on the founding team

A glimmer of progress: The percentage of US startups with at least one female founder has been growing in recent years and now stands at 28%. Nearly four in 10 US healthcare startups have a least one woman on the founding team.

About one in four US startups has a woman on the founding team
 

14% of US startups have a female CEO

Having at least one woman on a startup’s founding team increases the likelihood that there will be a woman on the leadership team. Often a founder serves as CEO, and for startups with a woman among its founders nearly half have a female CEO.

Conversely, just 2% of startups with male-only founding teams have a female CEO. Startups with a female founder are slightly more likely to have a woman in the COO role or leading HR, marketing or sales teams.

14% of US startups have a female CEO
 

30% of US startups have programs aimed at increasing women in leadership

Despite growing awareness of increasing gender diversity in tech, just one-third of US startups have programs in place with the goal of elevating more women to leadership roles.

30% of US startups have programs aimed at increasing women in leadership
 

Gender-based goals are rare for C-level positions

Only a small percentage of US startups set hiring goals for women in executive positions. Those companies using goals typically apply them companywide or to attract female board members — only 17% have specific goals for bringing more women into the C-suite. The most common programs startups cite include offering a flexible work environment and recruiting outreach/interview techniques.

Gender-based goals are rare for C-level positions
 

Startups with a female founder are slightly less likely to rely on VC

While venture capital is their most likely next source of funding regardless of the gender makeup of the founding team, slightly more US startups with at least one female founder expect to tap friends and family, and slightly fewer expect to raise venture capital.

Startups with a female founder are slightly less likely to rely on VC
 

One-quarter of US VC deals involve companies with at least one female founder

PitchBook reports that in 2019, companies with at least one woman on the founding team received 23% of US VC deals. Measured by 2019 total deal value, however, this represented just 7%.

One-quarter of US VC deals involve companies with at least one female founder
 

Two-thirds of US VC firms have no female partners

Our partner All Raise reports that 65% of US VC firms with assets under management exceeding $25 million (excluding life science and corporate VC firms) have no female VC or general partners.

But progress is being made. The All Raise findings show that in 2019 54 women became VC partners or general partners for the first time, up 42% over 2018. By comparison, 71 men became first-time partners. As of February 2020, 13% of VC and general partners at US firms are women.

Two-thirds of US VC firms have no female partners
 

ABOUT THE SURVEY

Learn more about the executives in our survey and the businesses they lead.

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