The Top 20 Startup Ecosystems by Percentage of Female Founders

August 3, 2015

11:00 am

The top 20 startup ecosystems in the world average 18 percent female founders, Compass’s Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015 reported last week – an improvement from 2012’s numbers but still nowhere near a gender balance.

Chicago had the highest percentage of female founders in the world at 30 percent, closely followed by Boston (29 percent) and Silicon Valley (24 percent). Meanwhile, Seattle brought up the rear in top-ranked US cities with only 9 percent women. In Europe and Asia, the cities with the most women starting companies are Paris (21 percent) and Singapore (19 percent).

Below you can see the top 20 startup ecosystems by percentage of female founders, along with their percentage of women startup employees and their overall ranking. (The overall ranking is a general measure of startup activity and takes into account factors like funding, market reach, and talent.)

1. Chicago: 30%

Women employees: 29%
Overall ranking: 7

2. Boston: 29%

Women employees: 23%
Overall ranking: 4

3. Silicon Valley: 24%

Women employees: 29%
Overall ranking: 1

4. Los Angeles: 22%

Women employees: 28%
Overall ranking: 3

5. Montreal: 22%

Women employees: 25%
Overall ranking: 20

6. Paris: 21%

Women employees: 24%
Overall ranking: 11

7. Tel Aviv: 20%

Women employees: 24%
Overall ranking: 5

8. Singapore: 19%

Women employees: 26%
Overall ranking: 10

9. Toronto: 19%

Women employees: 25%
Overall ranking: 17

10. London: 18%

Women employees: 24%
Overall ranking: 6

11. Moscow: 17%

Women employees: 19%
Overall ranking: 13

12. New York City: 16%

Women employees: 28%
Overall ranking: 2

13. Vancouver: 16%

Women employees: 20%
Overall ranking: 18

14. Austin: 15%

Women employees: 24%
Overall ranking: 14

15. Sydney: 14%

Women employees: 21%
Overall ranking: 16

16. Sao Paulo: 13%

Women employees: 22%
Overall ranking: 12

17. Amsterdam: 13%

Women employees: 18%
Overall ranking: 19

18. Bangalore: 11%

Women employees: 18%
Overall ranking: 15

19. Berlin: 9%

Women employees: 27%
Overall ranking: 9

20. Seattle: 9%

Women employees: 26%
Overall ranking: 8

As you can see, all the startup ecosystems ranked in the top 5 overall – Silicon Valley, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and Tel Aviv – all have more than 15 percent female founders. (In fact, excluding New York at 16 percent, they all have 20 percent or more female founders.)

Most cities tend to have more women employees than women founders, with the biggest gap in Berlin: only 9 percent founders but 27 percent employees. Meanwhile, the cities with the highest percentage of female startup employees are Chicago and Silicon Valley, tied at 29 percent.

These numbers have increased since 2012, when the average startup ecosystem had 10 percent female founders. Compass’s report makes no other comment, except that “psychologists and sociologists continue to debate whether 50/50 is the target to strive for.”

This ranking is based on 11,000 surveys of entrepreneurs and experts in the past five months, 200 interviews in 25 countries, and research by Deloitte, CrunchBase, Orb Intelligence, Global Entrepreneurship Network, and Compass’s other local partners.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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