Only 15% of Tech Startup Founders Are Female

Our survey results confirm what many already know from experience — the tech startup world remains male-dominated.
Lucia Stefanuto
on March 27, 2023

As part of our assessment research, we survey founders of technology startups and scalable ventures. As a part of these surveys, we ask respondents to select how many founders are in their company and how many are female.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results show that women remain in the minority among tech startup founders. Of the 5,469 respondents surveyed across 67 global ecosystems between September 2016 and November 2022, 31% reported having at least one female founder. The overall average of female founders in an ecosystem (total number of female founders divided by number of startup founders surveyed) is just 15%.

Where Has the Highest Percentage of Female Startup Founders?

We also observed significant differences among geographical zones. Oceania had the highest overall percentage of female founders, at 21.6%. This was heavily influenced by 43% of founders in Brisbane being female.

North America was the next highest, with an average of 15.7% — influenced by 31% of founders among the Chicago startups surveyed being women — followed by Asia at 14.9%. Sub-Saharan African respondents indicated an average of 14%, with Cape Town the highest in the region at 15.3%. MENA was the region with the lowest percentage of female founders, at just 10%.

The responses for Munich indicated that only 5.6% of founders in this German city were women, and although Paris is a globally leading tech ecosystem overall, the average number of female founders indicated by the survey was just 8%. Elsewhere in Europe performed a little better — an average of 24% of founders in Dublin were women. Overall, 50% of the ecosystems surveyed had between 11% and 17% female founders.

This is broadly in alignment with research we conducted in 2021 examining women working in tech in Europe, which found that the number of female tech leaders in Europe at that time was under 15%, and that in the top 25 cities ranked, an average of just 25% of tech jobs were held by women.

Which Startup Ecosystems Have The Most Female Founders?

Of the 67 ecosystems surveyed, only Brisbane and Manila reported more than 50% of startups having one or more female founders (72% and 52.6% respectively). Coming in close behind were Chicago at 46%, New Zealand at 45%, Dublin at 42%, Detroit at 41%, and Halifax, Canada at 40%.

Eight ecosystems (12% of those surveyed) had fewer than 20% of startups with at least one female founder, including Edmonton and Munich with just 14% each.

While this is just a snapshot of the global situation, it’s fair to say that the tech startup ecosystem is a long way from gender equality.

Edited by Hazel Boydell. Photo by Vlada Karpovich.

Want to learn more about gender in the startup world? Check out Gender Disparity within Global Venture Capitalist Investments.

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