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Silicon Valley VCs and the Gender Gap

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the bake-me-a-pie dept.

The Almighty Buck 375

fysdt writes with this excerpt from TechCrunch: "An analysis of Dunn and Bradstreet data shows that of the 237,843 firms founded in 2004, only 19% had women as primary owners. And only 3% of tech firms and 1% of high-tech firms (as in Silicon Valley) were founded by women. Look at the executive teams of any of the Valley's tech firms — minus a couple of exceptions like Padmasree Warrior of Cisco — you won't find any women CTOs. Look at the management teams of companies like Apple — not even one woman. It's the same with the VC firms — male dominated. You'll find some CFOs and HR heads, but women VCs are a rare commodity in venture capital. And with the recent venture bloodbath, the proportion of women in the VC numbers is declining further. It's no coincidence that only one of the 84 VCs on the 2009 TheFunded list of top VCs was a woman. ... Additionally, it is harder for women to obtain funding than for men. ... historically, women-led companies have received less than 9% of venture capital investments; in 2007, the proportion of funded female CEOs dropped to 3%."

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Why should I care? (1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053004)

I'm a man, I don't have venture capital, so I don't care. If women want more venture capital, its not my issue.

Re:Why should I care? (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053082)

I'm a man, I don't have venture capital, so I don't care. If women want more venture capital, its not my issue.

You should care because the only way to make this work (without further using tax dollars and programs [slashdot.org] to forcibly put women in these positions) is to do one thing: should you successfully reproduce and should your progeny have the XX sex chromosomes then it is up to you to ensure that said progeny have equal support from you to pursue desires in sports and technology ... and any other male dominated profession. As lame as this sounds, equality at home from birth produces equality everywhere.

Do not enforce Barbie Dolls upon them. Do no not let their friends enforce a stereotype on them. Support their true desires should it be technology, sports or hair dressing.

The problem here is not the VC funders or the companies. The root of the problem is society at large. It's been going on for quite sometime in some societies more than others. Only you as a parent can change it for your offspring. It's a huge societal change that takes at least one generation with a limitless maximum of generations to complete the transition. Politics seems to have made headway and technology can as well.

The other solution is that people are installed that might not be the most qualified person but present the equally valuable diverse viewpoint in decisions and products. Not everyone values this as highly as I do and I understand that it upsets people when companies and governments try to make equal opportunity employment quotas.

Remember: it's up to you to support this change. Don't rely on the government or your neighbors or whatever deity you may believe in. It's your job to change this if you want to see it changed.

Re:Why should I care? (2, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053156)

Do not enforce Barbie Dolls upon them.

Barbies? Yugh. If I have a daughter and she's not programming by the age of 10, I'm going to disown her.

On a more serious note, I hope that this changes soon. Keep in mind that we're still coming off the tail end of the "Math is hard!" generation. It'll take a while, but I'm confident as the new generation grows up, we'll get there.

Re:Why should I care? (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053380)

Bit late. Mine was programming at 8 and this was back in 1986 :) Now she's working for a small company as a DBA/support person and getting ready to fly out of the country to help set up a call center for the company.

[John]

Re:Why should I care? (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053460)

Barbies? Yugh. If I have a daughter and she's not programming by the age of 10, I'm going to disown her.

Translation: "I don't give a fuck what my daughter actually wants. She is, after all, only a FEMALE. She will do what daddy wants her to do."

Thank God you're only dreaming about what you'd do IF you had children. Please, never have any.

Re:Why should I care? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053552)

Aluminumy. It's like irony, but lighter.

Re:Why should I care? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053224)

Allow them to be interested in what they want, if they are interested in areas that are considered female and not tech or sports etc, let them. Then again getting parenting advice from slashdot is pretty bad :)

Re:Why should I care? (0, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053574)

Why is this clearly redundant (to anyone who read GP post) shite modded insightful?

Re:Why should I care? (5, Insightful)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053274)

The big mistake is to think that these financial CEO COO XYZ jobs require talent. Some of the people in these positions are extremely talented, but you shouldn't compare them to things that really require talent, like academics or sports. By and large, it's just a bunch of white guys hiring their friends into ridiculously high paying jobs with no skills other than being good at socializing with other white guys. Sorry about the egregiousness, but somebody had to say it.

Re:Why should I care? (1, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053396)

We'll agree there are too many white guys, and it's a good ole boys club.

I'd rather have a CEO that was competent, having watched so many steer a ship into the docks or simply capsize it.

I'd rather have a CTO that had guts (balls, tits, doesn't matter) than one that will simply cave to a PHB because of the mortgage, blah blah blah.

The skills require a lot of talent. The fact that stockholders can't put their fingers around executive management's throats is another problem. People are hunter gatherers and their greedy. The warrors (that's what a lot of execs think of themselves as) are into it for the smell of blood (finaincial hemmoraging, mostly).

Talent? They all need talent. Payton Manning or Steve Jobs. They're worth it. Jobs is much more of a control-freak proctological oriffice than Manning, but they bring home the points and profits. That's what they get paid for. Both might be overrated, but tell that to the stockholders.

America is already screwed up (0, Flamebait)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053282)

FFS - the entire issue of female ownership is partly genetics. Women aren't as competitive as men are. It's a fact. Get over it. We don't need any more equal opportunity programs, we don't need morons meddling in people's natures. Those women who ARE competitive should certainly not be held back because they are women - but get any group of women together, and they quickly determine how to COOPERATE. Unlike the guys. With us, some muscle brain has to establish his alpha-dog dominance, and he leads. Simple as that.

Guys enjoy cutthroat competition more often than women do, so guys get into occupations that make use of it. We can't all become pussies, so that women can compete. Nor can they grow muscle, or manipulate their psychological makeup to compete with the guys.

Liberals need to get a grip on reality. Our nation wasn't built by sensitive little gayboys.

Re:America is already screwed up (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053350)

Aside from the veritable goldmine of easily disputed points you afforded me (and the complete lack of behavioral science references that your post begs for that matter), you do represent an popular and therefore essential viewpoint in this discussion.

You and I will have to agree to disagree and instead I'll address the people reading this thread: this person is who you and your children have to deal with. They're not always men and sometimes they're as innocuous as writers for sitcoms and television showing that women should play the subservient role in any relationship or else it will fall apart. Your wife might make more than you, deal with it.

If you have a daughter, she's going to interface with daughters of the above attitude and it's going to be very trying for your child not to strive to make the cheer leading squad. I'ts going to be hard if she wants to sit at a computer and code up her ideas with her peers expressing this gold standard of high school politics. It's going to be hard like it was hard for me to shirk off sports and instead embrace music and computers. My friends were few but they're still my friends and, hey, we're all lucratively employed. I don't know about the football team and frankly could care less. Sports are great and staying in shape is crucial to your health and well being but the second you step off that field the real parts that matter in your life begin. In the classroom. You're entertainment when you're on the field. It might get you laid in high school but it won't get you employed later in life.

Teach your children to poke holes through arguments that rely on name calling like "gayboys" and try to enforce alpha male hierarchy. These are values and ideals that are, in my humble opinion, vital to success and acceptance. It's your choice to instill them firmly in your children.

Re:America is already screwed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053524)

You lost me at "could care less."

I don't value the thoughts of idiots.

Re:America is already screwed up (5, Informative)

RCL (891376) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053438)

Women do compete between themselves more than men do. Men are able to organize large and hierarchical structures (e.g. military, church etc) while women usually prefer horizontal relations exactly because they are less willing to subordinate.

Women are just not that keen on taking risks, they prefer long-term stability - that is probably why they are not numerous in risky businesses like being a VC. And I do agree, that's natural: males are nature's way to experiment while female's role is to pick the most successful one among them and reproduce his genes. Somehow it is akin to VC's role in business, though.

Re:America is already screwed up (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053506)

I wish I had mod points for you. Well said!

Be realistic. Society matters (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053376)

No man is an island. These stereotypes exist whether I like it or not. I have an 18 month old son we are about to have a daughter.

I'm not about to teach my son to play with girl oriented toys like dolls etc. or dress him in dresses. Regardless of what I believe, he would be the one to suffer if I did. He would be teased. He would be ostracised. He would be beaten up. I'm not going to change society as a whole just by making my own house rules that do not fit in. Me and mine would just be labelled weird.

Re:Why should I care? (3, Insightful)

notbob (73229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053384)

Really?

This is pointless.

Compete on a fair and equal level or stfu and go home.

Nobody gives a damn that women are not ceo's of it companies, if it was a concern to them they'd have built their own firms but it's not so drop it.

My gender plays no role in forming a company, a lot of other real life factors occur, the tree hugging moronic hippies that think "equality" is solved by making unlevel playing fields are completely lost at step 1.

Re:Why should I care? (3, Insightful)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053428)

The other solution is that people are installed that might not be the most qualified person but present the equally valuable diverse viewpoint in decisions and products. Not everyone values this as highly as I do and I understand that it upsets people when companies and governments try to make equal opportunity employment quotas.

So you're saying that women are different, think different and behave differently and that that specific diversity is valuable and should be considered when appointing humans to fulfil working responsibilities.

Yet at the same time I sense you are against recruitment discrimination based on gender.

Either it is irrelevant to be a woman and all appointments should be based upon qualification, competance, skills etc or gender is relevant and the appointment process should factor in gender wherever it can be shown that aptitude statistically divides along gender lines.

I don't think you can realistically ask to have it both ways.

For myself I think gender is irrelevant. I have recruited, subsequently trained and long worked with a number of both men and women in IT workplaces. Some were great. Some were not. I never felt it useful to factor in their gender when estimating their abilities, professionalism and usefulness.

Make it work? Perhaps it is? (5, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053456)

You should care because the only way to make this work...

What do you mean "make it work"? Perhaps it already is? As far as I can see the ONLY data backed evidence in the article is that more men than women get VC dollars and that the women are equally, if not better, qualified. This is NOT evidence of sexism and could be easily due to the fact that women may find the high pressure and huge work load of starting up a company less appealing than men. This could even be viewed as a sign of superior intelligence!

All I'm saying is that perhaps, for the most part, stereotypes have been greatly relaxed (although there are still some throw-backs out there) and what we are seeing is the result of those relaxed stereotypes. We do know that there are differences between the genders so it should not be surprising that this results in differing levels of interest for different types of job. What we have to care about is ensuring equal opportunity for all and not worrying about differing take-up. While the article does conjecture about that there is no evidence to support those conjectures.

Re:Why should I care? (3, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053462)

You're assuming A: there is a problem and B: that the same percentage of women want these types of positions as compared to men. Women have the capability to be whatever they want, especially in the US. I've worked for some large tech companies and there were lots of women in senior management. It is insulting and condescending to assume that women need help. 90%+ of registered nurses and medical assistants are female. I wonder if there is some reason that men are being over looked for those positions? I think we need a taxpayer funded study to see why this is.

Re:Why should I care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053490)

WGIS get ur bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!

Re:Why should I care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053548)

should you successfully reproduce

Do what?

and should your progeny have the XX sex chromosomes then it is up to you to ensure that said progeny have equal support from you to pursue desires in sports and technology ... and any other male dominated profession. As lame as this sounds, equality at home from birth produces equality everywhere.

Do not enforce Barbie Dolls upon them. Do no not let their friends enforce a stereotype on them. Support their true desires should it be technology, sports or hair dressing.

But Allah says I have to make them wear a ninja suit, not let them out of the house without a chaperone and sell them off as baby making machines as soon as Aunt Flo starts visiting on a regular basis.

You insensitive clod.

What I'm wondering is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053150)

...what is the Viet Cong doing in Silicon Valley?

Re:What I'm wondering is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053200)

Ex-(Temples hands)-cell-ent

Time for.... (5, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053012)

Time for another insightful discussion on the gender gap in tech. There will be no flames, no attacks, and no blaming. Just quiet, reflective discussion.

Re:Time for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053108)

Time for another insightful discussion on the gender gap in tech. There will be no flames, no attacks, and no blaming. Just quiet, reflective discussion.

That comment looks watered down but familiar [slashdot.org] .

omg, so what? (1, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053020)

nothing's holding anyone back. if women want to be in a field (other than Infantry or SOF) then they can.

maybe we should make some laws to bring up the numbers, eh comrade?

Re:omg, so what? (-1, Troll)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053158)

Sadly, I've heard this sort of thing stated before. It's usually statged by whoever the local white boys and especially bey the very people who stab the career-eager women in the back at performance, code reviews, or just plain old social networking, and it goes with "Manifest Destiny", "Social Darwinism", and a lot of claims that such differences are the fault of the group _not_ in power. A whole stack of social and psychological research says that a great deal is "holding them back", sometimes among themselves, but often committed by the group in power.

Does it ever occur to anybody... (5, Insightful)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053028)

...that if women aren't highly represented in these endeavors, it might be a sign that women just aren't interested in the same damn things that men are?!

Sheesh!

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053078)

if women aren't highly represented in these endeavors, it might be a sign that women just aren't interested in the same damn things that men are?

You've highlighted yet another gender gap that needs to be closed. We need to take stronger action to ensure that men and women are interested in all the same things!

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (2, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053114)

He must be from marketing!

GET `IM!

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053128)

You're absolutely right, man! May I interest you in some high-gloss lipstick? It would go great with that mauve cell phone you got there!

My captcha for this: skirted.

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053210)

I'll help you with quilting and embroidery as soon as you help me with approximate nonnegative matrix factorization and Team Fortress, dear. :)

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053302)

Well, I've done my part. Lesbians are interested in eating pussy, and so am I!

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053346)

I ain't ever never gonna watch Titanic or the stupid ass mamma mia movie. I'll go kill myself before.

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053422)

You can laugh...but I've read articles on the issue from people who apparently hold exactly this position: that if girls and women aren't interested in tech, then we must find out how to *make* them interested, starting in the preteens.

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053362)

Really? I thought it was just because women have small brains.

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053386)

I'm still upset at the misrepresented number of pregnant men.

Seriously. 100% of females? I demand the government setup research to right this inequality.

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053388)

There are plenty of women who are interested, but there is a glass ceiling in place which makes it effectively impossible for them to rise high up in the ranks.

You sound like you haven't spoken to any women who are interested in rising through the management ranks. There are *plenty*. Talk to some of them about the glass ceiling, and maybe you'll understand. It's very much still a good ole' boy's club out there.

Re:Does it ever occur to anybody... (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053520)

...that if women aren't highly represented in these endeavors, it might be a sign that women just aren't interested in the same damn things that men are?!

Sheesh!

Thank you! Finally, someone said it. I mean seriously, would it come as a complete and utter shock sending Jesse Jackson on some sort of sexist/racist rant if he discovered that there were no men in the R&D department of Tampax? What, no male editors for Womens Fitness?!? Gee, there's only one female master mechanic in the tri-county area near my home?

Some jobs are simply NOT appealing to women, period. It's not that they couldn't do the job. And I really get sick and tired of this kind of comparison being brought up every few months like we SHOULD be seriously worried about what gender sits behind a company instead of worrying about how good a given business plan is. The dot-bomb era was NOT because of gender imbalance in tech, management, or VC.

And don't even think about pulling the racist/sexist card these days. A woman sits in the most powerful seat in Congress and a black man is running the United States. That speaks volumes from where we have come from in just a few decades. Bottom line is if a business plan is sound enough, a 12-year old could get funding.

Testosterone (1)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053054)

I've sometimes wondered about levels of testosterone and their link with "the desire to lead".

Women and men are certainly mentally as capable as each other, but I wonder if there's a chemically induced motivation difference.

Re:Testosterone (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053138)

Testosterone has been noted for its role in motivating for achievement and risk-taking, particular with regards to Finance. I understand the effects are supposed to be complex, though, as with all hormones, and there are women who have high levels of it as well, so... well, just use caution before generalizing, kthx.

Google sez: testosterone+finance [google.com]

Re:Testosterone (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053212)

The Economist carried an article to that effect recently: "Hormones, not sexism, explain why fewer women than men work in banks" [economist.com]

Also, one should take note of the following considerations about how different variance in willingness to take risks can explain the effect and why we should start to also look at the bottom of the society. [fsu.edu]

Conspiracy!! (2, Funny)

markdavis (642305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053064)

>"of the 237,843 firms founded in 2004, only 19% had women as primary owners. And only 3% of tech firms and 1% of high-tech firms were founded by women."

Yes, we have discovered a massive conspiracy by society to prevent women from founding new companies. New evidence shows States refuse to give business licenses to women, especially if it is apparent it will be a high-tech company. News at 11....

Women in technology? (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053066)

So there are few women in technology. Sad. There are few men in primary or secondary education, nursing, or child care. Do we care?

Re:Women in technology? (4, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053080)

It is indeed sad. How else am I to meet that cute but nerdy female counterpart who can outcode me in C and be in my guild?

Re:Women in technology? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053220)

Fat Camp.

Re:Women in technology? (5, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053404)

cute, nerdy, female?

Choose two.

Re:Women in technology? (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053466)

So there are a bunch of dudes that you find cute and nerdy?

Re:Women in technology? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053498)

Actually if you go to Georgia Tech or any other "nerdy" school your set becomes {single, cute, mentally stable}.

Please proceed to choose 2.

Re:Women in technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053508)

"Choose two" doesn't really apply in this case. There's no such thing as a cute nerdy male.

As expected (5, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053070)

If you believe that sociopaths are more likely to become effective CEOs, as has been claimed, then given that antisocial personality disorder is about 3 times more common among men than women, this is pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

Re:As expected (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053408)

Oh, statistics, thou art a heartless bitch.

Re:As expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053514)

Clearly, efforts to expand sociopathy rates amongst women to be equal to those of men have been failed and must be redoubled. If not we risk gender inequality.

Men and women are different. (2, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053072)

Film at 11.

Apple (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053074)

management teams of companies like Apple — not even one woman.

Well, it is Apple ... there's no *women*, but ...

More seriously, it's interesting, but has little bearing on anything. Anyone done any studies on the lack (or excess) of LGBT in tech or venture capital?

Re:Apple (1)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053096)

Apple may not have women in their upper management, but they do have Andrea Jung on their board of directors.... http://www.avoncompany.com/investor/seniormanagement/jung.html [avoncompany.com]

Re:Apple (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053104)

...which is a terrible example because, as your link points out, she heads Avon, which is in an industry that's very well-suited for women.

The Reason (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053112)

The real reason for a gender gap: women are not capable, or not interested, or a combination of both.

A view from 50,000 feet (4, Insightful)

baronben (322394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053130)

Okay, I guess I should get in here before it gets really bad. I'm a PhD student who studies entrepreneurship, so I've read a bit on the topic of gender discrimination and difference in entrepreneurship. In fact, I'm writing this instead of working on the lit review of my research proposal. There is plenty of evidence that women are discriminated when they look for loans or investments. A good read is Blake 2006 "Gendered Lending: Gender, Context and the Rules of Business Lending" in Venture Capital 8(2) pp. 183-201. Basisiaclly, there are pretty large, statistically signifigant, differences in loan approval rates between men and women, after controling for a host of factors like education, business plan, experience ect. Plenty of women applying for loans for high-tech businesses were told by the banker to instead start more traditionally women-oriented businesses like salons or clothes stores. On the venture capital side, access to venture capital is heavily dependent on social networks, if most venture capialists are men, then women will have a harder time getting into these networks. The old boys network still does exist, and it's hard to break in to.

But why does this matter? The fact is that entrepreneurship is the only way that the American economy is going to grow. This is the best feature of our economy. So sure, I agree that women might not be equally as interested in entering the technical fields as men (though I'd say this is due in large part to implicit and explicit discrimination rather than anything biological). But we need all the entrepreneurs we can get. If women, who as you recall make up half the population, can't get a fair shake at starting high-tech firms poised for fast growth and export-base sales. we're doing the economy a disservice.

Re:A view from 50,000 feet (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053252)

But we need all the entrepreneurs we can get. If women, who as you recall make up half the population, can't get a fair shake at starting high-tech firms poised for fast growth and export-base sales. we're doing the economy a disservice.

Because we are not spending all the money? This is a crap statement, we would not be spending any more money here. The vast majority of companies that seek VC do not get VC. VC's really aren't leaving a ton of money on the table.

It is a VERY hard game to break into, because it is the nature of the game. There really isn't a magic spigot of money, where if you know the right words you get access. You have to work very very hard to get vc money.

(This is different than other sources of business money, and by far most businesses are funded by friends and family).

Re:A view from 50,000 feet (2, Insightful)

baronben (322394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053304)

Not everyone gets VC, and it's not an unlimited supply. The figures I'm looking at now from the Kauffman Foundation say about $230 billion in US in 2008.

But, I don't think there's any reason to think that firms founded by women are any less productive or good targets for investment than those founded by men or by mixed-gender teams. In general, firms founded by women perform worse than by men, but this difference goes away once you look at firms in the same sectors (women are more likely to found firms in lower-profit sectors like retail and services).

VC's hard to get. But it should be equally hard to get. Right now it doesn't seem like it is.

Re:A view from 50,000 feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053566)

You are controlling for a variable that you probably shouldn't be - regardless of the reason, if women are associated with poorer performance, that will be reflected in funding - probably at a higher rate than this accounts for because perception will be based on anecdotal evidence to a degree - this sums it up well http://xkcd.org/385/ - also, seeing the effect when Jobs left Apple, I can understand worrying about a baby hurting the company for a few years.

Re:A view from 50,000 feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053496)

Because we are not spending all the money? This is a crap statement, we would not be spending any more money here.

If the VC money stays constant but you increase the number of people competing by 100% then VC money can be used on better ideas, because there will be more of them. Oh... unless you are saying that men have already saturated the playing field with all their great 100% bomb proof start ups? As an investor I would prefer that the IT world was a little more balanced in terms of gender - there are opportunities out there being missed and, lets face it, the traditional white, male dominated, Ivy League stocked, IT startup is gently sliding out of fashion. As you say, the money will spent, but we can choose to spend it here in the US, or anywhere else we please. In terms of gender, places like Singapore (!) are looking more attractive.

You have to work very very hard to get vc money

True - but the best way is to show and document early success, marketability, vision, leadership, accountability, etc., etc.

Re:A view from 50,000 feet (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053316)

When considering loaning someone money, one must consider things the person is likely to do. Given that one cannot know the person in every detail, one uses the common behaviors of others similar to that person. Thus, when we, a Martian loan agency, are evaluating Earthlings for loans, we consider the behavior of other Earthlings, even though this particular specimen might not behave in the same way. Other Martian loan agencies have tried ignoring this, but they went under because their loans weren't as sound. Yet another planet-ist Martian loan agency tried rejecting all Earthlings for loans, but they too went under, because some Earthlings were worth loaning to. We get criticism for being discriminatory of Earthlings, since we do consider them a greater risk than Martians, based on past performance.

Re:A view from 50,000 feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053352)

Did you drink the bong water as well?

I RTFA(bstract) (1)

ElMiguel (117685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053586)

There is plenty of evidence that women are discriminated when they look for loans or investments. A good read is Blake 2006 "Gendered Lending: Gender, Context and the Rules of Business Lending" in Venture Capital 8(2) pp. 183-201. Basisiaclly, there are pretty large, statistically signifigant, differences in loan approval rates between men and women, after controling for a host of factors like education, business plan, experience ect.

I have looked up that study and I must say that I find the statements here a bit misleading. The abstract [informaworld.com] says it is "a case study involving interview data from loan officers in Worcester, Massachusetts in the US". While a case study can be interesting for other reasons, statistically speaking it's on the level of anecdotal evidence. Furthermore this study "[looks] through the lens of geography" (presumably because the author works for a Department of Geography). Hard to extrapolate from such a tiny sample of VC lending in the USA, isn't it?

So you say that there is "plenty of evidence that women are discriminated" and "statistically significant differences", and in the same breath you mention a study that doesn't support what you just said because it's not statistically significant. If there is plenty of evidence why not pick a study that supports your rather strong statement?

The Wrong Age (0, Troll)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053134)

Women control the majority of money in the US. It seems that that is true simply because they survive longer due to their husbands working their fannies into an early grave. But having money and power in the declining years does not bless them with nimble minds at that age. So if we get a bunch of bright young women willing to dedicate themselves totally to tech in the fanatical way that young males often do we may see women getting more funding. I guess they will have to give up on the baby making, long nails, and endless shopping.

Re: The Wrong Age (1)

Chelmet (1273754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053516)

they survive longer due to their husbands working their fannies into an early grave.

+1 Funny. In Britain 'fanny' means 'pussy', not arse as it does in america, and as such this sentence reads very differently :O)

Maybe (1)

petronije (1650685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053142)

This affirms that confirmative action needs more time to... panic!

And? (0)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053144)

And only 3% of tech firms and 1% of high-tech firms (as in Silicon Valley) were founded by women.

In related news, only 3% of make-up firms and 1% of flower firms were founded by men.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Re:And? (0)

notbob (73229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053458)

Awesome stat ;)

at least someone is thinking rationally

But... (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053146)

If 3% of "tech firms" and 1% of "high-tech firms" were founded by women, and yet 19% are primarily owned by women, that seems to suggest that women position themselves very well in terms of getting to the top of these companies.

In terms of founding firms, if one gender wants to found more firms --- then maybe they should just found more firms? I don't see how anything but the most abstruse and heavy-handed affirmative action is going to change that. ("Oh, you want a business license? But you're a male and we've already completed our quota of patri-licenses! Try again next decade.")

Maybe male-dominance of firms can be explained by three facts: (1) founding a firm is one of the more risky ways to try to secure wealth for oneself; (2) tendency to take greater risks is positively associated with testosterone levels (link [medicalnewstoday.com] and link [sciencedaily.com] ); and (3) males have higher testosterone levels than women.

Sure, there is much more that needs to be done in the realm of women's rights. But that men tend to want to found firms and women do not, is not really high up on the list. Let's try making sure women do not get assaulted as much as they do. This will probably increase their mental well-being and self-confidence such that they will be even more able to succeed in things like finance and high-tech as well!

Re:But... (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053188)

Sorry, I misread the "19%" as applying to just tech firms, when it was for all firms. That sort of throws out that part of my post.

Should the author fund women with his own money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053152)

The SV startup culture is very darwinian. VCs put their money where they think it will pay off, no matter who is the CEO of a potential investment. Maybe the author should put his money where his mouth is and start a fund that has a mandatory 50-50 mix of male-female CEOs.

Social stigma. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053154)

A women working with computers? Absurd! Give those gals some barbies and let them worry about thinks like good-looking actors and the kitchen.

Correlation and Causation ftw! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053162)

I would just like to chime in and say that correlation is not causation.

I think that way too often "gender gap" issues are misconstrued. Bad statistics are used to push worse agendas.

So let's assume that the numbers presented above are factual, properly represented statistics that accurately reflect the reality of the world. So what? What does that even mean?

I'm guessing there are fewer male nurses than female nurses. Oh noes!!!1! Smells like discrimination to me!

Or maybe, and just maybe, men and women have different priorities and value systems and therefore make different choices in their lives. Maybe working 60+ hour weeks for a shaky startup in a high stress environment is less appealing to most women than it is to most men. I don't know. And you probably don't either.

Hmmm...

Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (1)

baronben (322394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053216)

You're right, there aren't enough male nurses. Gender discrimination goes both ways. We need a lot more nurses in this country, and one way to reach that is to get over this stupid idea that it's emasculating to be a male nurse.

But, I'd also point out that a hell of a lot of nurses work 60+ hours a week in a much higher stress work place than a coder at a startup does.

Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053260)

I don't think its just the idea that it's emasculating to be a male nurse but also the legal liability. Remember, every man is a rapist and pedophile and women and children *never* lie.

Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053320)

I don't think we are referring to coders. I believe the article refers to founders and executive management. I would think being executive management is a bit more stressful than writing code all day.

Besides, I don't think it's an issue of whether or not there are enough male nurses or not. Gender is irrelevant. I could care less what the male/female ratio is in the nursing world. I could also care less what the male/female ratio is for tech companies receiving VC. It's thoroughly irrelevant. I think the issue is that statistics like these are often, through some heavily inductive reasoning, construed to demonstrate some type of gender bias/gap/discrimination, when there are other equally likely answers that are equally supported/supportable.

I was just trying to say: let's not jump to conclusions. The fact that there is a skewed male/female ratio in any profession is in no way proof that there is any type of discrimination going on.

I think we could also beg the question of controlling variables. In sociological studies like this, it is impossible to control for all the variables. You never have two identical situations where the only variable is gender. It just doesn't happen. So if your argument is that the affirmative decision rate for VC allocation is significantly different for men than it is for women... well I just don't see how the data presented above supports that assertion. The data gives us a "what", but doesn't even point us toward a "how" or "why".

That being said, I am gleefully awaiting the coming flame war. Hooray.

Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (1)

baronben (322394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053442)

Gender isn't important if there are enough people in the sector or occupation. Well, I mean, I would still be concerned if there's discrimination that favors or disfavors one gender over another, but it's not a critical issue.

It becomes an issue when there aren't enough people in it, and you need to get more. If there aren't enough women who want to become nurses, what's easier, trying to convince more women, who are essentially all tapped out, or try to encourage more men to join up?

It's the same thing with entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers. We need all of them. There are plenty of smart, talented and qualified women who don't enter because of both overt discrimination and more subtle forms of discouragement such as it being harder to get VC or bank investments.

And as for the studies: to quote XKCD, correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does wiggle it's eyes suggestively while gesturing towards causation. In the social sciences, statistical data provides the what, but theory and qualitative evidence (actually talking to people) provides us the how and why. It's hard, but when you look at dozens and dozens of studies, you start to see patterns emerge.

Re:Correlation and Causation ftw! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053572)

I agree with what you are saying here. However, I believe the focus is on VC in this discussion. The problem with VC is that it's extremely difficult to get. There is not a limitless supply of free money available to you if you happen to be an SV entrepreneur. The concept here is that even if you flooded the VC markets with 500,000 women CEOs, it would largely be irrelevant as the funds currently available are already being tapped out. You would either need to give less money to more people (the merits of which would be a separate conversation entirely) or raise additional capital (unlikely due to the nature of our capital markets in general).

Don't get me wrong, if someone has something to add to society, I want them to succeed regardless of gender. However, I think the real issue here isn't gross discrimination on the part of VCs, but rather a difference (biological and social) between men and women. Some of this is programmed in on a social/developmental level.

For example, I have an ex-girlfriend who is frighteningly insane. Not in the looney bin kinda way. I think it is largely a product of her upbringing. Her parents spoiled her when she was a child and now her "I want it done for me and I want it now or I'm going to throw a massive tantrum" attitude spills over into her adult life. Unfortunately, I think that women have been dealt a piss poor hand by our parenting and socializing norms (Just to be fair, I think men are subject to similar difficulties with vastly different outcomes). My guess is that the issue lies less with the VCs being discriminatory and more with our learned gender roles/identities being antiquated and fundamentally detrimental to both men and women. This impairment is expressed in the numbers by what appears to be gross discrimination. I am not implying that this is the fault of women. I am simply saying that this is the way our social system currently functions. You don't look at a car (the system) that has been designed to run on gasoline (the function) and call it a bigot because it won't run on diesel. That would be ridiculous.

Now that's just my hypothesis. I certainly have no numbers to back that up.

Percentages (1)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053192)

The percentages near the end are somewhat misleading. If there are only 19% of mainly women-owned businesses, who receive VC, they only get about half of that what men do. But I think especially the high-tech industry is the one getting all the VC, and there the percentage is, according to TFA, 1-3%. So women would, if one assumed that most VC went into this industry, get more than men.
So, all in all, these numbers are, at best, misleading.

it takes time (4, Insightful)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053206)

Silicon Valley is a meritocracy. People who get put in positions that they don't deserve, just because of their skin color or their gender might hold the title, but won't hold the respect or the credibility.

I know plenty of females that are competent in terms of technology. But the ones who are in leadership positions right now started out in tech 20+ years ago. They were the first wave. Now, we have more females in the general ranks, and they will filter their way up. But it takes time.

Force-feeding gender equality in a meritocracy won't work. They have to earn it just like everyone else. And when they do, no one will blink an eye or care, because everyone will think they deserve it.

Its all about the benjamins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053218)

Seriously its all about the money, nothing else.

This isn't some high-ground moral debate, its about moolah, show me the money.

Doubt me? Find the big stories about the gender gap in nursing, therapy, primary and secondary education (though strikingly, once you get to higher education then all of a sudden the gender gap IS an issue... why there? why not for primary and secondary?), for mechanics, for ditch diggers. There's a HUGE gender gap in every one of those fields, 90%+ male or female dominated in each, and you hear nothing about it.

Now bring in: finance, (medical) doctors, venture capital, CEOs, math, science, technology (anything with $$$), and its suddenly important.

Crypto-paternalism (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053240)

Guess we'd better force women at gunpoint to enter careers they wouldn't voluntarily choose to enter. After all, it's for their own good. And it makes the weak spined males feel better about themselves. Cuz that's what this is all about, isn't it?

Re:Crypto-paternalism (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053390)

Stop and ask yourself why they wouldn't voluntarily choose to enter the field. Could it be that gender-biased parenting and social norms influenced them not to pursue that path? If so, maybe we should be re-evaluating how we treat our children.

Socialized gender differences aren't harmless. Do you think it's a good thing that most anorexics are female and most rapists are male? If women didn't develop eating disorders and men didn't rape, these horrible things would happen probably 90% less often in our society. There are reasons for these gender trends and they're social, not biological.

As a side note, you've sort of jumped to conclusions about the cause of the statistics presented in the article without knowing all of the information. How many women applied for or pursued these positions? If it was as low of a percentage of the total applicants as the percentages we see here, then you're right, they didn't want to do it (for whatever reason). If it's a higher percentage, it either means that women in the field are less skilled than men, have less money, or they are discriminated against by employers due to gender bias.

As you can see, no matter the cause, there's something amiss here and we would be wise to consider what it is and how we can fix it.

Most people who perpetuate modern sexism do so without malice and often without even realizing it.

So what (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053284)

How is this important? Go make me a sandwich.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053318)

What? Make it yourself!

Oblig. (0, Redundant)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053414)

sudo make me a sandwich

its all relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053322)

The proportion of women to men that are convicted sex offenders, ravecar drivers, welders, etc is quite low also. Is this sexual discrimination or is this differences in motivations? The prportions of testosterone to estrogen is quite different also, am I the only one that can see that hormones may be to blame?

Re:its all relative (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053330)

What can lead to a difference in motivation? Hint: hormones isn't the only answer. Gender-biased parenting and social norms can also be at play. Discrimination leads to a change in motivation which in turn leads to and justifies more discrimination.

A bit sensationalized, with a grain of truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053358)

Apple doesn't have any women among its top executives, and neither does AMD. But HP has 3 of the top 10, Intel has 3 of the top 15, Amazon has 2 of 12. Not a stellar performance by any means, but not a complete absence either. This seems to be one area where Ms. Fiorina had a positive impact on HP.

Carli Fiorina (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053368)

I'm trying to come up with something witty to say, but the only woman CEO that comes to mind is Carli Fiorina. That worked out well for HP...

Re:Carli Fiorina (3, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053504)

Carli Fiorina was such a hugely pathetic failure at HP not because she is a woman, but because she zero engineering expertise (degrees in philosophy, medieval history and business if I'm remembering correctly). Apple found out the same thing when they hired John Scully to be CEO. Total fail. When non-engineers try and run tech companies, there seems to be a *much* higher probability of failure.

Carol Bartz. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053522)

Carol Bartz. CEO of Autodesk, where she did well, then Yahoo, where she inherited a mess and isn't doing too well so far.

Division of labor (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053444)

Most comments seem to be from the outside looking in, looking from the big picture to the small.

Try a different strategy. Look at the small picture and imagine it replicated a zillion times.

So, the wife and I serve the evil empire at our corporate jobs. Due to gender quotas, etc, she's pretty much untouchable at a big enough corporation in her technical field. The only way it could be better for my wife, is if she were a minority. Me, I'm just another off the shelf white male tech dude. Which of us should stay in the corporate world to haul down some cash and (more importantly) health insurance? The replaceable cog in the machine man, or the quota'd fire-proof woman? Obviously the least risky solution is she keeps her day job, he forms the new company.

Multiply by roughly 10000x and you get the reported numbers. No great surprise, really.

funding (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053452)

Maybe harder for women to get private funding, but much easier getting government loans, either small biz or schooling, etc.

Besides, VC stuff isn't that great, you are beholden to people who just want a huge return back, and swiftly. They won't ever care about the tech or doing a good job or being in it for the long haul.

You'd think this would be learned by now. Want a company, or to start your own business, expand on some ideas? That's fine! But you don't have to go this VC route either. Do what it takes to stay private and self funded some how. If this means you stay small for a long time..at least you are still working and don't have to put up with PHBs, dumb VC investors, dumber generic stockholders, etc.

  Small does not necessarily translate into bad, and giant doesn't necessarily translate into good either, despite what those pirates believe and are taught in the biz schools.

There's more to life than some nebulous goal of being a big biz tycoon. We already have quite enough of those globalist turkeys running around, we don't need any more of them..we need less of them.

And this "bigger is always better" corporate mindset is wrecking the economy as a whole, not making it better. All these huge companies are just eating the middle class up and spitting them out, leaving them stuck with huge debts, personal and governmental, and shifting the wealth of the nation into fewer and fewer hands, where they don't care after that point, they'll go elsewhere with that stripped wealth and just let everyone else rot.

  It's a vicious circle where they have to kowtow to the wall street pirates to achieve "growth" in their business, which has de evolved into just building up, acquiring with takeovers, stripping assets to achieve this growth, selling off the good stuff cheap and fast, shuffling off the jobs as fast as possible, another way they get short term profits, then bailing once your company and your idea has been destroyed with their golden parachutes they vote themselves to take. Lather, rinse, repeat, with co-opting our government in the meantime, to let them keep getting away with that.

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/19658 [canadafreepress.com]

That's what you want, to be part of that system?

So..stay away from those guys. Do it yourself, stay small and integrated, have a better life, less hassles and headaches and bogusness, don't be part of that corrupt and morally bankrupt system if you can avoid it.

I'm not that surprised (4, Insightful)

NtroP (649992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053526)

I do some "Angel" investing on occasion (I'm not at VC stage yet), meaning that I invest some of my money in promising startups. As much as it may seem that "the kids" have all the tech-saavy and good ideas, I look for startups that are lead by people with fairly extensive experience in both "tech" and business. That means that I'd be hard pressed to put my hard-earned money into a new company that's being run by a 25-year-old who is probably right out of college and has never run a business before. Now, I know that many of the great companies were started by kids with no business experience and I'm probably missing out on a good thing here. However, when I am presented with two competing proposals of otherwise equal potential where the difference is that one company is lead by a kid with no "real-world" experience and the other is lead by someone who's been in the field for 10-20 years, has run other businesses (even failed ones), I'll probably go for the experience - if all other factors are equal. In fact, I believe the youngest person I've ever funded was around 33 at the time.

So, how does this fit in with the gender issue? I've been in the IT field since 1984 and I can tell you that girls were almost entirely absent from my field. What this means in terms of total experience today is that those in the high-tech field with the most experience tend to be predominately men. It would also follow that those with enough experience in their field who are seriously ready to both run a business that requires funding at the VC-level (i.e. millions of dollars) and have enough of a portfolio and background to attract VC would tend to be predominately men. Think about the ages of people running *most* large, successful companies; they tend to be in their 50's or older. Look back at how many women were in the workforce, getting management and "technical" experience in the 70's and 80's. Keeping in mind that during that time women really didn't have the same opportunities as men in the workplace and they tended toward more "traditional" positions - thus further reducing their potential experience in roles that would lead to high-level executive positions.

Is this *fair* to women? Not really. They've always had to fight harder to be accepted into non-traditional roles in business. Is it *fair* to men for women to get moved into positions of authority simply because there aren't enough women in positions of authority? No. However, as someone who puts my money out there on the line, I'm looking for the best chance of a return that I can find. I don't care about the race, creed, color or gender of who's leading the company. I care about their chances of leading the company to success and my getting a return on my investment. Generally that will tend to lean toward those with experience, and in the technical fields that *tends* to be populated with males.

Now, I'm always on the lookout for the exceptions...

News Flash! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053550)

Men and women aren't equal. They are equivalent. That difference is important because it means that they don't have to perform/achieve the same functions/goals. Remember Newton's law about equal and opposite? If a woman really wants to do a traditionally male role, fine. If a man wants to do a traditionally female role, fine. To complain that they tend to fall into separate categories of their own will is stupid and political correctness bullcrap. Sure there are instances where discrimination plays a role, but I firmly believe that the largest reason that there aren't many women in positions like this is because there aren't many women who want them and of those that want them, there are less that are qualified for them. That might (actually, it probably will) change in the future with different generations coming of age, but trying to throw legislation at it is a mistake. Affirmative action and hiring quotas just hurt everyone eventually because it means scraping the bottom of the barrel for someone who fits your quota even if they absolutely suck at the job role.

I am a hetero male going into a nursing career. I chose that because I decided that I didn't want to make a career out of my tech hobbies and thus ruin my hobby. I wanted something outside a cubicle and that I could be proud of helping others. I've faced plenty of my own gender stereotypes and it annoys me when someone comments how they need more men in nursing or similar rubbish. Not many guys are interested in it and there is nothing that *should* be done about it. Its just the way things are. I sincerely hope that I never get hired just because I'm a minority in the field.
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