Achieving Gender-Parity in Tech
I just finished reading comments related to the news on the 500 blog that Dave McClure is stepping down as CEO at 500 Startups. From those comments, it's clear that there is still a lot work to do - by all of us - to get to gender parity in tech. Thankfully, the tech industry is not exclusively run by people with gender biases - and there is data to support the fact that progress is being made, despite some highly visible recent examples to the contrary.
Let's start at the top - the people investing. Many pension funds and other LPs are increasingly being run by women - and the data shows that more female angels are investing than ever before. At the startup level, in the US and elsewhere, more young women are entering tech - the number of women studying computer science has risen over 110% in the past five years - and female grads now make up over 30% of Stanford Computer Science majors - one of the top CS programs. And according to Crunchbase, the number of female founders getting funding is steadily increasing as well.
Stanford Computer Science Majors - Class of 2018 (Source: Jorge Cueto)
It's true that VC partnerships are lagging when it comes to involving women at the IC level. But logic says change will accelerate. As more female founders exit, they will be asked to join VCs as partners in larger numbers, based on merit and money (experience in executing business plans and exits - and an ability to invest - are the fundamental requirements for becoming a VC partner, not gender.)
Too rosy of an assessment? I really don't think so. According to Crunchbase and Pitchbook data, we've reached a point where investment in US tech ventures founded by women (~18%) and hiring at tech majors (16% at Facebook and 18% at Google) roughly equate to the five year average rate of US graduates in that same area of study (i.e. CS.) If you look at the rise in investment in female-led startups and the increase in graduation rates for women in the sciences over the past ten years, it's hard not to draw the conclusion that they are correlated.
So what has to happen to further boost change? Clearly, there appears to be a link between the number of women majoring in the sciences and investment, and hiring in the tech industry. If this turns out to be true, and graduate ratios continue to improve, there *will* be more investment in women. VC cash will follow capability, and as those founders exit and cash up, more women partners will join (or form) VC partnerships.
What more can be done? Probably quite a lot. Here's some ideas about things we could all do to make further progress:
I'm certain this list is incomplete - please include your ideas in the comments. And if your read of the data is different, I'd love to hear your view. And if I have inadvertently displayed any biases of my own here, please accept my apologies - like many men working in tech, I'm a work in progress when it comes to recognizing gender-parity.
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