Forbes recently released its 2014 Midas List of top venture investors. Of the 100 ranking individuals, a mere four were women, which is sadly a reflection of the industry as a whole.
A survey conducted by the National Venture Capital Association found the percentage of female venture capitalists is declining – from 14% in 2008 decreasing to 11% in 2011. According to this survey, life sciences and clean technology industries have the highest percentage of women investors (18 percent and 15 percent), while the lowest percentage of women is found in the non-high tech products sector, just 8 percent.
Ann Lamont of Oak Investment Partners, #46 on Forbes Investors list, believes there is still a hiring bias. She says that people tend to hire candidates and invest in entrepreneurs like themselves – which means men tend to hire men. With regard to the industry as a whole, she says, “Venture capital is a fabulous profession for women because it’s incredibly meritocratic. It also happens to be one of the most fulfilling careers on the planet. We not only need more female VC’s but we need more female entrepreneurs, they go hand in hand.”
Other women from the rankings spoke out about the lack of female representation, too.
Beth Seidenberg of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Beyers, who placed just outside of the list, advocates for more women in school to pursue engineering degrees. “We need broad outreach – to universities and to encourage women to learn technical skills.”
Jenny Lee of GGV Capital (#52 on the list) says there needs to be more entry level positions for women and more supports for women investors, moving forward. Though she was surprised by the lack of female representation on the list, she says the job is not about gender, “but about how best you can find, invest in, and groom companies to be at their best – it’s about networking, judgment, value add and ability to work with entrepreneurs consistently.”
This is the 14th Forbes Midas list. Mary Meeker, the growth-stage specialist from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is the highest ranking woman listed at #21.