Less than one in five start-ups are founded by women

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

It’s still a man’s world, particularly for those starting up a small business.

New research data from Crunchbase, the research arm of technology site TechCrunch, has found that only 17 percent of new start-ups during the first quarter of 2017 were founded by females – and the number hasn’t changed for a while. The data focuses on those companies that received venture funding so there are many small businesses – pizza shops, nail salons, restaurants – that aren’t considered here. Regardless, it’s eyebrow-raising.

For example, since the study began in 2015, Crunchbase found that of the 43,008 start-ups around the world that received funding from 2009 to 2017, only 6,791 (15.8 percent) had at least one female founder. The number reached about 17 percent in 2012 but has since stayed the same, which means that five years have passed with no percentage growth in the number of women-founded venture-backed start-ups.

Where can you find the greatest number of female entrepreneurs who received funding? Education is the most popular industry, with about 32 percent of all female start-ups. Close behind are companies in the e-commerce space followed by healthcare and media and entertainment firms.

“The biggest issue is not the number of women starting companies, but the access to capital as you move up the food chain,” said venture capitalist Susan Lyne in the TechCrunch report and the numbers don’t lie. According to the Crunchbase analysis, $10 billion of funding went to companies with female founders in 2016 as compared to $94 billion invested in companies with male-only founder teams.

The good news is it that more and more organizations, made up of angel investors and other venture capitalists, are appearing to address this need. These organizations are helping female founders not only get financing, but get better educated about their financing options. But judging by the data so far, there’s still a long way to go for today’s female entrepreneurs to gain equal footing with their male counterparts.

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