Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 Demo Day is a scaled back affair in many ways — 47 startups are graduating at today’s event, down significantly from the 84-startup Summer 2012 class and the 66-startup Winter 2012 class.
However, there’s one very notable aspect of YC that saw growth this time around: The percentage of founders that are female.
Out of 111 founders in the Winter 2013 YC class, 12 are women — that’s more than 10 percent, an all-time high for the program. Nine of those co-founders, which you can read more about in-depth in this blog post by Referly founder and YC alum Danielle Morill, are part of startups launching on the record today (14 of the 47 Winter 2013 startups opted to present at Demo Day today on an “off the record” basis.) It’s still a hugely underrepresented minority, of course, but it is a significant step up from the balance seen in previous classes, which on average had a 4 percent ratio of female founders.
Y Combinator partner Jessica Livingston told me today that this is not the result of any deliberate “affirmative action” type initiative on the part of its partners. YC is simply seeing a greater number of talented women apply for its program, she said. Also, Livingston said, more of the female founders in the Winter 2013 class are serving as team leaders in the CEO role than they’d seen in any other past class.
There is still a long way to go before we hit the goal recently laid out by Sheryl Sandberg of full 50-50 gender representation in the upper realms of technology and business (and on an anecdotal note, there was still absolutely zero line for the women’s room here at YC Demo Day.) But if Y Combinator continues to fill its role as a smaller bellwether of what’s to come to the larger industry, this could show that the world of tech executives is slowly but surely moving toward more gender diversity.