I admit it: I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal. So when I look back at 2015, and the progress women made (or didn't make), I tend to see the highlights. I see more research showing women to be frighteningly competent, I see new companies succeeding, and I see success in fundraising.
Sure, I could write about the time YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was asked, onstage at Dreamforce, if each of her five children had the same father. But isn't it better, frankly, to forget that and move on? Instead, here are five milestones worth remembering.
Research shows women are better at entrepreneurship than men
I know that's a bold claim. But in July, First Round Capital released the results of a study of 300 of its investments, and found that companies with at least one woman founder performed 63 percent better than those with all-male teams. "Female founders outperform their male peers," read the study.
Personally, I tend to think it's not that the women were more skilled entrepreneurs than the men. Instead, I think this is just one more in a raft of studies that show that diverse teams perform better. In the brogrammer culture of Silicon Valley, female = diverse. Either way, the study results are good news for women entrepreneurs.
Honest Company is valued at $1.7 bilion
Why is this a win? Women entrepreneurs have long said that venture capitalists and other investors tend to look down their noses at consumer products companies--especially if those companies are primarily going after women as their customers. The Honest Company's ongoing success shows that such companies are finally getting some respect.
Women raise more A-rounds - at least in New York
In the first half of 2015 in New York, eight women founders/CEOs managed to raise A-rounds for their startups (out of a total of 53 A rounds). That sounds like a tiny number, until you compare it to the same period a year ago, when only three women-led companies managed that same feat.
Women start more companies
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Census released preliminary data from its survey of business owners, showing that the number of women-owned businesses grew 27.5 percent between 2007 and 2012. The growth in women-owned businesses is being driven largely by women of color, and the number of businesses owned by women veterans nearly quadrupled during the same time period.
A few tech companies get serious about diversity
In January, Intel announced a $300 million commitment to diversity, and said it intended its workforce to become "fully representative" of the country's available talent. Intel didn't say exactly how it would come up with metrics representing the availability of talent, but it did say it would tie some of managers' compensation to reaching diversity goals.
In August, Pinterest went public with its diversity goals, saying it wanted 30 percent of new engineering hires to be women and eight percent minorities; it set a target for non-engineering roles of 18 percent minorities. Whatever you think of the actual numbers, it's a positive sign that Pinterest spoke about them publicly, hopefully demonstrating that other companies need to do the same.