Gender Lens Investing Gains Ground — But Can It Conquer Wall Street?

Jul 18, 2017

One such attempted workaround is being led by Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the funding of women-led ventures. In the world of venture capital, where 95% of the VC partners are white men, about that percentage of available capital goes to the same demographic, Vosmek notes. To her and others intent on getting more capital to women entrepreneurs, the key problem is that most of the networks through which venture capitalists hear about and then vet deals are dominated by white men, and those men, consciously or not, have a deeply ingrained sense of what a successful entrepreneur looks like — themselves.

Sarah Kaplan, professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, describes a venture capitalist acquaintance telling her that there’s no pipeline of women-led startups. Kaplan, who is also director of Rotman’s Institute for Gender + the Economy, told him, “Dude, you’re just not looking.”

To improve access to funding by women entrepreneurs, Vosmek created a network with a 50-50 female-male balance of some 5,000 venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, angel investors, corporate leaders, bankers, accountants, and others — to review, evaluate, and advise women-led enterprises seeking capital.