Venture capital: Still white, still male, but getting better (maybe)

Even though well-educated women and minorities have been entering the workforce for years, the venture capital industry is still dominated by white men. But there are a few signs that things are changing.

In a new study from the National Venture Capital Association and Dow Jones VentureWire, men outnumbered women three-to-one among the more than 500 venture capital professionals who responded. The imbalance is even worse among the VCs actually doing the investing — namely, those who identify as managing directors, managing partners, general partners, partners, venture partners and principals — where 86 percent of respondents were male, and 14 percent were female.

The survey found a similar imbalance in ethnicity. A whopping 88 percent of respondents were white, 8 percent were Asian Pacific, 2 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent was African American.

Of course, venture capital isn’t the only industry facing this problem; commentators have long bemoaned the dearth of women in tech companies, particularly at the top levels. (More than a year ago, Renkoo co-founder Joyce Park also wrote about the “hidden” gap in self-taught female software engineers.) And in the report, NVCA President Mark Heesen notes that there are signs that things are improving. For example, when you look at non-investing positions, the number of women goes up to 44 perent, and when you look at respondents with five years of experience or less, the number of whites drops to 82 percent. Those numbers aren’t great, but at least they’re better than the overall industry average, and they could foreshadow bigger shifts.

This is the NVCA’s first demographic survey, but it plans to conduct follow-ups on a regular basis, so when Heesen says, “The face of venture capital in 2020 will be much different than it is today,” we’ll be able to see if that’s true.

Some other results:

* Among professionals who have been in the industry for five years or less, 77 percent were male, 23 percent female.

* Women were most prevalent in biopharmaceuticals, where 32 percent of respondents were female, and least prevalent in the industrial/energy investment sector.

* 87 percent of respondents were born in the United States, while 5 percent were born in Asia and the Middle East, and 4 percent were born in Europe.

* 64 percent of respondents had masters degrees or Ph.D.s.

* The top universities among respondents were Harvard (12 percent), Stanford (9 percent), the University of Pennsylvania (8 percent), Duke University (5 percent) and MIT (5 percent).

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