Report: Women at startups get far less equity than male counterparts

A new study by Carta, a Palo Alto company that helps startups manage employee and investor equity has found that female employees at startups typically get less than half the amount of equity of their male peers.

Female employees own 47 cents for every dollar of equity a male employee owns. The equity discrepancy is even more stark for female founders: Women founders own 39 cents of every dollar of equity a male founder owns, the study found.

Carta studied data from 6,000 companies it works with—encompassing 15,000 founders and 180,000 employees—to analyze those companies’ combined $45 billion in equity.

Women make up 35% of equity-holding employees, but only hold 20% of startup equity dollars. In dollar amounts, women hold $2.2 billion in equity value compared to men’s $8.8 billion. Averaged out, a woman hired by a startup gets $35,319 in equity value compared to a man’s $74,998. Women hold 9% and men hold 91%.

The study was prompted by a February blog post from #Angels in which its members said they suspected there was a disparity as the group began investing and noticed the lack of women on the capitalization, or cap, tables that detail a company’s ownership.

The survey included a range of industries and covers the entire U.S. but is perhaps most relevant in the tech industry, which is built on the model in which employees take less pay in exchange for equity in the hopes of hitting the jackpot once the company takes off. The system has minted generations of Silicon Valley leaders by arming them with enough wealth to fund other startups, back their own pet projects or bankroll political campaigns.

The tech industry has come under fire for gender inequality, allegations that encompass pay disparity as well as workplace discrimination, all of which is exacerbated by an overall dearth of women in the field.

While female founders make up about 13% of founders, they own less than 6% of total equity held by founders, putting their ownership value at about $1.8 billion compared with the $29.8 billion in value held by male founders.

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