Click through the slideshow for a firm-by-firm breakdown of the numbers.
The FEM Study: METHODOLOGY
All the data for assets under management comes from the National Venture Capital Association, which sent us their latest list from Thomson Reuters, current as of Q1 2012. The list included private equity firms that also do venture capital investing, which we attempted to identify and omit. However, some may still be included in the final list of 71 firms.*
Next, we went to each firm’s website and tallied up the number of partners and managing directors, noting how many were women. Obviously, the structure is different at different firms. For consistency, and to give firms the greatest benefit of the doubt, we counted anyone as a partner who had “partner” in his or her title, including venture partners, founding partners, administrative partners and other variations. We also included managing directors, who are senior partners. We did not include vice presidents, principals or associates. When partner titles were unlisted or ambiguous, we called and asked for the numbers.
We then calculated, for each firm on the list, the percentage of partners who are female. Rather than call it POPWAF, we decided to call this number the Female Equality Metric, or FEM. (At first we called it the Kleiner number, but decided to reserve that term for “number of discrimination lawsuits filed.”)
A firm with all male partners has a FEM of zero. A firm with all female partners (LOL, JK) would have a FEM of 100. If you think gender diversity is important, a low FEM is bad and a high FEM is good. If you think women should stay at the receptionist’s desk and out of the corner offices, a low FEM is good and a high FEM is bad. And if you think Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, as does Greg McAdoo of Sequoia Capital, which coincidentally has zero women partners, then you’ll probably dismiss these numbers as meaningless.
But page through this list of venture capital’s heavyweights, and it’s striking to see how few women have made it to the upper ranks. Also striking was the perfect 100 POFR, or percentage of female receptionists, at the 26 VC firms we called. We paged through team page after team page—the staff at a venture capital firm is almost universally called the “team”—where men’s faces lined the top rows and women’s faces appeared further down, if anywhere. “We have female administrative assistants,” explained one woman who picked up the phone, when asked whether any of the partners and managing directors were women.