Businesses led by women are getting only a small portion of the billions of dollars in venture capital investments made each year, according to a study released Tuesday by researchers at Babson College.

Only 2.7 percent of companies that received venture capital funding between 2011 and 2013 had a woman CEO, the study found. That at a time when 36 percent of U.S. business owners are women, according to the Small Business Administration.

The vast majority, or 86 percent, of companies receiving venture capital funding had no women in executive positions, the Babson College study found.

The study, which followed up on similar research in 1999, analyzed more than 6,500 businesses that received venture capital investments. It found that of the $50.8 billion in venture capital invested during 2011-13, just over a fifth, or $10.9 billion, went to companies that had women on their executive teams. Just 3 percent, or $1.5 billion, went to companies with women CEOs.

There were some signs of progress:

  • Eighteen percent of companies that received venture capital had a woman on their executive team in 2013, up from 9 percent in 2011.
  • In 2011, companies with female executives got 9 percent of the venture capital; by 2013, that number had grown to 27 percent.

Companies with female executives that received venture capital tended to be clustered in industries like health care.

The study also found women lagging behind at venture capital firms. The number of women partners in companies fell to 6 percent in the latest survey from 10 percent in 1999. Venture capital firms with women partners were more likely to invest in companies that have female CEOs. Fifty-eight percent of venture capital firms with women partners invested in women-run companies, compared to 15 percent of firms without women partners.

The study recommends that venture capital firms increase the number of women making investment decisions. It notes that previous research has concluded that diverse management teams are more effective than those with a homogeneous makeup.

--Associated Press

Published on: Sep 30, 2014