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Useful Stats: Female founders and VC, an overview

May 02, 2024
By: Conor Gowder

The measurements for success of female-founded and female-co-founded companies, while improving, remain lower than male-founded companies in number, deal count, and capital invested, according to PitchBook’s 2023 Annual US VC Valuations Report. PitchBook found that female-only-founded startups received just 2% of all venture capital (VC) dollars in 2023, while those female-co-founded reached 21% that year—a record high. SSTI analysis of PitchBook data finds that the number of VC deals to female-founded and female-cofounded companies has increased 58% over the past decade, yet despite reaching that milestone, they have been on a sharp downward trend since 2021.

This edition of Useful Stats takes a deep dive into these metrics and more using PitchBook data. SSTI analyses are curated into multiple data tools and graphics, revealing the deal count, number of, and capital invested in female-founded and female-co-founded companies across different geographies, VC deal types, and industry verticals. This approach aligns with the definitions underlying PitchBook’s female founders dashboard and extends that tool’s overview of the market and scope by including pre/accelerator/incubator deals.

Methodological notes

This article uses data about female founders and co-founders, specifically, that of the number of companies, deals, and capital invested. Data was filtered down in PitchBook to only pre/accelerator/incubator, angel,[1] seed, early stage, and later stage VC deals. Note that if a company received, for example, one angel and one seed deal in a given year, it would be counted as a company under both deal types.

Pre/Accelerator/incubator deals, as defined by PitchBook, are equity financed by an accelerator or incubator (approximately 90% of the deals in this category), as well as product or equity crowdfunding.

The later sections of this article explore deals across all 59 PitchBook verticals, each based on PitchBook's analysis of the technology area in which the company is engaged. These are not mutually exclusive, as one company may be represented in multiple verticals.

The data used in this article was drawn from PitchBook on 4/25/2024.

The state or territory attributed to any of the metrics is that of the current headquarters location of the company receiving the investment.

The data used in this article should be interpreted cautiously, especially regarding recency bias. New data is constantly being collected, with new companies formed and VC deals made; due to the nature of these data, older years tend to be more complete, and more recent years underrepresented within databases like PitchBook’s.


National and state-level review of female founders and co-founders in venture capital

Trends by state

Over the past 10 years, from 2014-2023, the number of female-founded and female-co-founded companies receiving VC deals nationwide has increased by 58%, from 3,169 to 5,005. However, this figure has been on a rapid decline over the past three years, dropping 23% from its peak of 6,479 in 2021, compared to that of the number of companies founded and co-founded by both male and females having dropped 18% from 20,116 to 16,421.

In just nine states did the number of female-founded and female-co-founded companies receiving VC deals grow by any amount since 2021. The highest growths were in Oklahoma (69% or 9 companies), West Virginia (+50% or 1 company), and Nebraska (+47% or 8 companies). Delaware, Arkansas, Montana, and Rhode Island grew by at least 10%, while Michigan and Pennsylvania grew by at least 1%.

Three states—New Mexico, Mississippi, and North Dakota—stayed the same. The remaining declined.

The states with the largest historical numbers of female founders and female co-founders with companies receiving VC deals each year were, not unexpectedly, also the ones responsible for the largest decreases in overall counts. Proportionately, however, these states experienced greater than average decreases in the number of these startups each year compared to the national trend of -23%. California decreased by 30% (-605 companies), New York by 27% (-265 companies), Massachusetts by 32% (-130 companies), and Florida by 24% (-63 companies)

Figure 1 below shows the trends in company count and those for deal count and capital invested, across every state, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. from 2014-2023. Clicking on the arrow at the top right of the figure will toggle between these metrics.

Figure 1: Map of the number of companies, deals, and capital invested in female-founded and female-co-founded companies by state and year.


Trends by deal type

Pre/accelerator/incubator deals had the highest concentration of companies among all deal types, with approximately 30% (1,489) of the total in 2023– down from 35% (1,119) in 2014. With 23% of all deals each, later-stage VC (1,149) and seed (1,165) deals were the next most prominent deal types, followed by early-stage VC with 20% (1,000). The fewest deals were angel, at just 4% (202). See Figure 2 below, for more information.

The number of female-founded and female-co-founded companies receiving angel deals decreased the most as a percentage of all deals from 2014-2023, dropping from 13% to 4%, while those receiving later-stage deals increased the most, from 9% to 23%.

Figure 2: Number of companies, deals, and capital invested in female-founded and female- co-founded companies by deal type, 2014-2023.


As seen in Figure 2, seed and later-stage VC have been on a consistent uptrend since 2014 but have since begun to decrease. Companies with pre/accelerator/incubator and early-stage VC-type deals have stayed stagnant since 2014, while angel-type deals have been on a downtrend.

Deal count by deal type follows a similar trend as company count, while capital invested skews towards the later VC stages.


Trends by state and deal type

Changes in the concentration of female-founded and female-co-founded companies by deal type are not consistent across geographies. California, for example, shifted from predominantly pre/accelerator/incubator deals in 2013 to predominately later-stage VC deals in 2023. Similar trends can be found in Massachusetts and Kansas, among others.

Other states follow different trends. For instance, Texas’ deal types have remained predominantly later-stage VC over the past 10 years, while New York has shifted from pre/accelerator/incubator to seed as its deal type with the most female-founded and female-co-founded companies.

Figure 3, below, shows more trends over time.

Figure 3: Female-founded and female-co-founded companies broken down by state and VC deal type

Industry vertical breakdown

Some industries have historically been skewed towards a particular gender. For example, past SSTI analysis has found that while the percentage of women employed in STEM industries is growing, they still represented just 20% of the total STEM workforce in 2022. This finding raises an important question: along the venture capital pipeline, are women more, or less, represented in certain fields?

Figure 4 shows a breakdown of the number of companies, deals, and capital invested into female-founded and female-co-founded companies across pre/accelerator/incubator, angel, seed, early stage and later stage VC deals by state, industry vertical, and deal type. Data spans the most recent 10 full years of 2014-2023.

Figure 4: Number of companies, deals, and capital invested into female-founded and female-co-founded companies by state, industry vertical, and deal type


It is important to remember that PitchBook’s industry verticals are not mutually exclusive, and the same data is oftentimes double counted across multiple verticals (e.g., most oncology companies are also counted as life sciences companies). Thus, SSTI encourages looking at one vertical at a time rather than combining or comparing multiple verticals.

Software as a service (SaaS) was the industry vertical with the most female-founded and female-co-founded companies in 2023 at 1,118, up 57% (406) since 2014. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, the next largest vertical, has grown by 393% to 961,766 more companies than in 2024. HealthTech (+461 companies, +195% since 2014), E-Commerce (+209 companies, +43% since 2014), and LOHAS & Wellness (+344 companies, +138% since 2014) followed.

On the other hand, Mortgage Tech, Ephemeral Content, and Car-Sharing (each two companies), Micro-Mobility (three companies), and Infrastructure (four companies) were the verticals with the lowest amount of female-founded or female-co-founded companies receiving VC deals in 2023.

For more detail on industry vertical trends across geographies and years, refer to Figure 3.


This article was prepared by SSTI using Federal funds under award ED22HDQ3070129 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.


[1] Note that PitchBook’s definition of an angel deal is a round comprised of individual investors, which may differ from other interpretations.

useful stats, vc