Last year was a record-breaking one for venture funding around the world. While the number of female GPs increased, data from the All Raise x Crunchbase VC Checkwriter Dashboard show that only 14 percent of check writers in US VC firms are female, highlighting the significant gap that remains between females and their male counterparts in the industry.
Moreover, issues such as subconscious biases and pay gaps are still largely unsolved, and interestingly, these disparities are quite similar to those being faced by women in the startup world.
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Here are five concrete ways both men and women can help close the VC gender gap in 2022:
Expansion of VC/technology communities
It’s fairly routine in the engineering/VC community to be the only woman in a room. Everyone yearns for a community at work, and this is what initially encouraged me to get involved with Women Who Code, and later on in my career, Women in VC.
I was driven by the desire to find other like-minded women and to strengthen these relationships, which is especially important in a relationship-driven industry like VC. I’m excited to see how communities like Women Who Code, Women in Product, Women in VC and AllRaise continue to take our industry forward.
More active mentorship
I’ve been fortunate to have very strong mentors throughout multiple walks of life, be it in the startup world or in VC. What may come as a surprise is that very few have been women.
These mentors saw my potential before I could see it myself and honestly, allowed me to punch above my weight class. There are both men and women out there that want to help foster the next generation of female general partners. More active mentorship of females and being strong allies for them is key to closing this gender gap.
Education and exposure to VC
Hardly anyone has a “straight line” into VC. Without any formal education for the role, women early in their careers often don’t know that venture capital is a viable career path. This holds true even for women that are in the tech or startup ecosystem already.
Despite coming from a deeply technical background, I wasn’t exposed to the VC industry until business school, and when I was, I didn’t think I was qualified to pursue the profession. I’ve participated in talks with my peers in the community and seen this sentiment ring true for other females as well which is why increasing exposure and education around the world of venture capital is so critical to closing the gender gap.
Encouraging women to take risks
Women are perceived to be more risk averse than men. While I don’t agree with that generalization, I do believe we need to repeatedly emphasize that “it’s OK to take risks,” or “it’s OK to fail,” and “it’s okay to apply for something you don’t think you’re qualified for.”
Opportunity and encouragement, coupled with incredible mentorship, is what brought me to this role as principal at DTC. Whether it comes from networking communities, mentors, educators, colleagues, or family and friends, this is a vital piece to creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.
Highlighting females in leadership roles
Having strong role models is incredibly powerful; if you see someone who looks like you achieve great things, you inherently begin to believe that you can too. We need to amplify all the women GPs, founders and operators who have brilliantly held their own in the historically male-dominated startup world.
While there is undoubtedly still a long way to go, I’m enthused by the progress made thus far and feel optimistic about the future. For those of us already established in VC, let’s make a concentrated effort towards cultivating a more diverse ecosystem in the next year and beyond.
Radhika Malik is a principal at Dell Technologies Capital (DTC), an investment practice that backs early-stage founders pushing the envelope on technology innovation for enterprises, where she is focused on investments in enterprise and cloud infrastructure, AI/ML, data and deep tech.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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