Are things getting better or worse for women in tech in 2017? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Joanne Chen, Partner at Foundation Capital, on Quora:

Are things getting better for women in tech? I'll comment on founders and investors since this is the world I'm most familiar with.

Founders

Let's take a look at hard numbers first. There is an upward trajectory in the percentage of startups with woman founders who receive funding. In 2007, only 7.2% of global VC deals had at least one female founder. In 2016, that number reached 16.8%. Female-founded, VC-funded: The numbers behind venture investment in women.

VCs

In addition, according to Techcrunch, 7% of partners at top 100 VC firms are women, from an almost insignificant base twenty years ago. Our late co-founder Kathryn Gould started Foundation Capital almost twenty-two years ago, and she said she could count on one hand the number of female VCs who were her peers.

"In the last three years, according to CrunchBase data, sixteen percent of newly launched venture and micro-venture firms, twenty firms in all, had at least one female founder. Looking out over five years, the percentage drops to twelve percent and twenty-nine firms, which suggests that the creation of female-founded venture firms is accelerating, albeit off a very low base." The first comprehensive study on women in venture capital and their impact on female founders.

These are positive trend lines, but it's not good enough.

I believe the best thing we can do for women in tech is to devote more time and energy via mentorship. Throughout my life I have had many mentors (both men and women) who have helped me get to where I am today. I try to "give back" by devoting an extra fifteen minutes to female founders by providing advice and feedback regardless of investment interest. At Foundation, we host a Female Founders conference each year for exactly this reason.

Outside of mentorship, though, there is still a lot of progress to make in educating everyone about implicit biases against women (as well as people who are different from us). Preexisting notions of power, success, and talent come from a male-dominated world. I've heard that initial impressions of women are more likely to be "likeable" instead of "competent" (vice versa for men). Smiley, quiet, non-sales oriented personalities for women, for example, are sometimes perceived not to be competent. Education is needed; numbers aren't enough.

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Published on: Jun 29, 2017