Much about the workplace has advanced throughout my career, but as fax machines, desktops and office hours have gone the way of the dinosaur, some things that should have evolved have remained the same. Unfortunately, there has been—and still is—a gender discrepancy in the workplace. And today, it’s particularly pronounced in the startup community.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the most the famous female CEOs on the planet, including Meg Whitman and Marissa Mayer, and I’m in awe of their talents, leadership and achievements. I’d love to support more women CEOs and back more female entrepreneurs, but the problem is I don’t see enough of them. Only one out of every 25 deals that come to the Webb Investment Network has a female founder. Of the 57 companies we have in our portfolio, only two are led by a woman. These are not impressive numbers. These are not numbers I am proud of.
So why is it happening? I don’t think this is as simple as a gender bias—I try not to be biased. One of the issues starts before women enter the workforce. When we look at university campuses we see a dearth of young women who major in the sciences. This hasn’t always been the case.
Women today represent 12% of all computer-science graduates. In 1984, they represented 37%. The lack of focus in these fields limits women from gaining employment opportunities at tech startups. This is why I support organizations like Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit that teaches coding to high school girls. Consider that in middle school, 74% of girls express interest in science, technology, engineering and math, but when choosing a college major, only 0.3% of high-school girls select computer science. I believe access and education can help change this. Case in point: 100% of the girls who participated in the Girls Who Code program last year reported that they are definitely or more likely to major in computer science following the program.