There are many root causes, but one thing I can tell you when I entered venture capital in 2013, is that I felt like I had gone back in time.
All-male partnerships were everywhere. Inappropriate jokes and sexist comments were laughed at, and commonplace. And VCs made jokes about the lack of diversity in venture. No one seemed to care at all, not really.
It really felt like Mad Men or 1953 or something.
But venture was worse than that. Female CEOs (the few that there were) would come in and pitch to an all-male room of 20+. I can’t imagine how they felt, because I know I was uncomfortable myself.
It was the least diverse (and most entitled) industry I’d personally ever been a part of.
Things are still very challenging today. I recently got together with my co-founder from my first startup, and she and I talked about if things were better in 2017 than 2003 when we were first co-founders together. In many ways, we both felt they were not.
But for venture … I do think and hope things are a tiny bit better today than 2013. A majority of our fund is invested in women-led or women co-founded startups, at least so far.
All-male funds are adding women partners that can write checks (an important distinction) at an unprecedented rate. This may only solve a few issues, but it is far better than it was in 2013 at least.
And I don’t hear the horrible, inappropriate jokes and comments anymore. At least, not as many. Actually, I still hear them from the last generation with probably close to the same frequency. But I don’t hear nearly so many from the next generation.
And I also see most SaaS GPs I’ve known for a while now consciously trying to fund female entrepreneurs. That is at least better than 2013, when the opposite seemed to be the case.
This is only one of the issues. But at least, in venture it is no longer OK to act like an Alpha Male frathouse. That is an upgrade, I think, from just a few years ago. At least a small one.