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Women hold only 9 percent of equity value in their startups, report finds

October 11, 2018
By: Robert Ksiazkiewicz

While women comprise approximately 33 percent of the combined founder and employee workforce at startup companies, they hold just 9 percent of all equity value in those companies, according to The Gap Table from Carta – a software platform for managing startup equity and ownership. The new report was based upon capitalization table (cap table) data from more than 6,000 companies with a combined total of nearly $45 billion in equity value. The cap table is a list of owners of a company and includes information about the percentages of ownership, equity dilution, and value of equity in each round of investment. The researchers found that:

  • Women make up 35 percent of equity-holding employees, but only hold 20 percent of employee equity; and,
  • Women make up 13 percent of founders, but hold 6 percent of founder equity.

The researchers found that female founders hold $1.8 billion in equity value, while male founders own $29.8 billion. Using the fair market value, that’s an average of $857,828 in value per female founder and $2,175,392 per male founder. For shareholding employees, females hold a total of $2.2 billion in equity value, while men hold $8.8 billion in value. This breaks down to an average of $35,319 in value per woman, compared to $74,998 per man.

For both female workers and founders, these disparities create a significant gap in potential wealth generation from a startup’s success. Carta found that female equity-holding employees own just 47 cents for every dollar male employees own and female founders own just 39 cents for every dollar of equity male founders own.

#ANGELS — a group of startup investors focused on increasing the number of female investors — responded to the report and highlighted a set of factors that provide the potential reason for the significant gender differences in startup equity ownership. Those factors include a mix of valuation and dilution, capital raised, allocation of equity, bias and performance. The post also provides recommendations for what different stakeholders (e.g., founders, employees, and investors) can do to address this gap. #ANGELS partnered with Carta in the development of the report.  


inclusion, startups, capital