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Anu Duggal

Female Founders Fare Much Better In 2014

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Editor’s Note: Christine Magee is an editor for CrunchBase.

In a place where having a penis is referred to as the sine qua non of the startup founder, it’s easy to jump on the pessimism bandwagon and overlook any gradual momentum for women in tech.

But the data tells a different story.

Of the 1090 U.S. startups that raised Series A rounds in 2014, approximately 10 percent were founded by women. By state, California and New York stood on equal footing just slightly above the national average, where 12 percent of companies had at least one female founder.

Ohio, Florida and Maryland led the charge for progress, racking up at least 15 rounds each with over 20 percent raised by female founders. Texas, on the other hand, sported some pretty disconcerting results — 42 startups funded and not a single female founder in the bunch.

Sure, these numbers are far from an equal split. But considering how early stage female founders fared in 2013 — securing barely 5 percent of total Series A rounds recorded — it looks like the times are changing, and quickly.

“Anyone who says they can’t find good women entrepreneurs to invest in is not looking,” says Susan Lyne, who recently stepped down as AOL’s Brand CEO to launch female-focused VC fund BBG Ventures.

“Most people are comfortable with either companies or entrepreneurs that look like them,” says Lyne, “so even though I’ve yet to meet a guy who doesn’t say ‘I’m really happy you’re doing this’ — and a lot of them are fathers of daughters so they have a rooting interest in it being fixed — there’s a difference between having a rooting interest and actively addressing how you’re going to fix it.”

BBG is just one of a handful of new funds actively seeking out women entrepreneurs (or #FlawlessFemaleFounders, as 500 Startups has dubbed them).

New York-based Female Founders Fund is perhaps the most active so far — launched in 2013 by Anu Duggal, F Cubed has closed 13 deals for female-led companies to date. And Duggal has already seen four founders she’s backed through F Cubed returning to invest in the fund.

“In 2013 if you look at the A rounds in New York for startups with a female founder and CEO, there was one, and in 2014, there were 12,” says Duggal “so that’s a huge jump. And this is our thesis — that New York is going to spawn a talented group of women across all industries.”

Considering that the percentage of female-founded companies raising A rounds in New York more than doubled in the span of a single year, it’s a convincing argument.

Series A funding isn’t the only evidence of a diminishing gender gap in 2014. For the first time, UC Berkeley’s Intro to Computer Science course saw more female than male students participating. And an all female-founded startup took home the Disrupt Cup at TechCrunch’s Battlefield competition in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

It’s a long way from a level playing field, but it’s a start.