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It’s an exciting time to be a woman, unless you’re an entrepreneur. While many industries progress toward equality, VC funding is flush with tradition — in other words, sexism.

Serving as an undercurrent to the strides made to temper gender inequality, many VC investment firms are keeping the patriarchy very much alive, according to Monica Eaton-Cardone, cofounder and chief information officer of Global Risk Technologies and the founder and chief operating officer of Chargebacks911.

“VC firms that invest almost exclusively in male-led companies aren’t just doing a disservice to women, but they may be limiting their own return on investment,” said Eaton-Cardone. “Evidence clearly reveals a solid track record of success among women founders in business and technology. Male investors need to come to terms with their own biases and make an effort to seek out and fund female-led ventures. Otherwise, they may soon find themselves outperformed by a new breed of VC firms that seek to provide more opportunities for female founders.”

Despite these opportunities, Eaton-Cardone described the persisting imbalance. “New data reveals that venture capital investments remain heavily biased toward men — in 2017, companies with all-female founders closed 368 VC deals, compared to 5,588 deals for all-male teams and 1,046 for mixed-gender teams. Women-led start-ups also received a smaller share of VC dollars, landing just $1.9 billion (2.2 percent) of the $85 billion in VC investments last year and averaging $5.16 million per deal versus $11.97 million for male founders,” she said, citing a Fortune article focused on the inequality.

But with concerted effort, the industry can regulate itself. Eaton-Cardone suggested for VC investors to commit to meeting with female entrepreneurs in addition to setting a specific amount of investments to be directed to female-driven businesses.

Balancing the c-suite with more female executives will help, too. “Appoint more women to decision-making positions in funds,” she suggested. “This can help overcome the usual male-funding bias and promote a more diverse portfolio.”

And if their business isn’t the right fit, providing constructive feedback might help female-led businesses succeed in the long run, she suggested. “If you opt not to fund them, which can help them fine-tune their pitch, improve their business plan or come back with an even better product,” Eaton-Cardone said.

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