VCs to Women: Please Apply!

brain-pick

Two years ago, venture capital firm OATV bemoaned the lack of female applicants for an open associate position. A tweet today indicates things haven’t changed much. What’s stopping female applicants?

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

When an associate position opened up at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures a couple of years ago, impressive applications streamed in.

“The candidate pool is a wildly diverse mix of nationalities, skill sets, educational paths, professional experiences and personal interests,” reported co-founder Bryce Roberts. There was only one problem: “they’re all guys.”

Roberts went on to plead with more ladies to apply and the story had a happy ending. Renee DiResta was hired for the post. Except, based on this tweet from Josh Felzer of Freestyle today, that happy ending doesn’t indicate a sea change in whose applying for associate gigs at VC firms:

DiResta lept into the Twitter conversation, echoing Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In that women often will not apply for something unless they feel 100% qualified. Others said the job description was a turn off or suggested a Google Hangout to answer questions for perspective applicants or a partnership with @GirlsWhoCode as a feeder.

Whatever the solution, fewer female applications mean fewer female VCs, which means in turn fewer female perspectives weighing in on decisions of who to fund, and that must have a less than positive effect on women’s representation and chances in startups in general. So how do we fix it?

Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0. She is a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.

Women 2.0 readers: Why are women reluctant to apply for VC jobs, and what can be done to encourage more to throw their hats in the ring?