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Just 4.2% of partner level VCs are women. How many of them can be a Board director? Unknown.

Stashed in: Business Facts, Women, Boards, Ellen Pao, Change the Ratio, Women in Tech

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Fortune magazine asking the tough questions in 2014...

Following Feb 2014 news that Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw were stepping down as partners with DFJ and Accel Partners, respectively, in order to launch their own firm, we decided to begin researching exactly how many partner-level female VCs there really were.

To do so, we first asked PitchBook for a list of all U.S.-based VC firms that had raised at least one fund of $200 million or more since 2009. In total there were 92 such firms, which had raised approximately $66.3 billion for 138 funds over that time period.

Then we began researching each firm, trying to determine how many senior partners were women. This proved a bit tricky, since not all firms use the same terminology. When in doubt, we looked for the most senior “layer” of investment professionals, be they “general partners” or “managing partners” or “partners” or “investment directors.” We excluded anyone who also served in CFO or COO positions, unless they also represented the firm on portfolio company boards. We also used current staffing, rather than who may have been with the firm at the time the actual fund was raised (e.g., Gouw wasn’t included as part of Accel Partners). This was science with a bit of educated art thrown in.

RELATED: The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business: Global edition

What we found was that only 23 of the 542 partner-level VCs I identified were female. That works out to just 4.2%, and actually would be a bit lower if we could figure out how many partner-level VCs work at Sequoia Capital (the firm declined to disclose, except to acknowledge that none of them are women).

For context, this 4.2% figure even trails the paltry 4.6% of female CEOs among theFortune 500.

Of the 92 firms, only 17 had even one senior female partner. Of those 17, just five firms had multiple senior female partners. Of those five, only one firm (Scale Venture Partners) had at least three senior female partners.

Okay, so 23 women are partners in their VC Firms.

Part of what's confusing to we entrepreneurs is that the word partner does not mean the same thing to every firm. Over the years I've met many partners (both men and women) who had no authority to make investments and/or had no authority to join Boards of Directors. 

How many of the 23 can make venture capital investments?

How many of the 23 can take Board seats in companies invested in?


But quite possibly it is fewer than 23. 

"A look through CrunchBase and at the websites of Andreessen Horowitz; Sequoia; Accel; Khosla Ventures; General Catalyst Partners; SV Angel; Benchmark; and Greylock is pretty shocking. There’s not a single woman at the very top level."


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