The state of gender equity at healthcare startups and VCs in 2019

Special thanks to:

Sean Duffy (Omada Health), Kelsey Mellard (Sitka), Elli Kaplan (Neurotrack), Leah Sparks (Wildflower Health), Toyin Ajayi (Cityblock), Seth Cohen (OODA Health), Ulili Onovakpuri (Kapor Capital), Michael Greeley (Flare Capital), Annie Lamont (Oak HC/FT), Jenny Abramson (Rethink Impact), Aly Lovett (Radian Capital), Ellen Pao (Project Include), Cadran Cowansage (Elpha), Rachel Talanian (MassChallenge), Natalie Cantave (MassChallenge), and Nina Kandilian (MassChallenge).


1Methodology
Rock Health collected 218 survey responses from people of all genders based in the US. Rock Health partnered with Oliver Wyman to develop a portion of the survey questions. 158 survey repsondents self-identified as women, 54 self-identifed as men, and six self-identified as gender-fluid, transgender, non-binary, or preferred not to disclose a gender identification. 171 respondents (129 women, 39 men, 2 non-binary individuals, 1 prefer not to disclose) reported working at a healthcare startup and 47 (29 women, 15 men, 1 gender-fluid individual, 2 prefer not to disclose) reported working at a healthcare venture fund. The data is intended to offer directional guidance to explore issues more deeply. The survey is not a representative sample of the healthcare startup or VC employee population.

To supplement the survey findings, we conducted 15 interviews with leaders in healthcare including startup CEOs, VC partners, and leaders focused on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within this sector.

2Analysis includes 240 US-based venture funds that have made at least five digital health investments between 2011-Q1 2019.

3Average age for VC partner is conservatively set as 37.5, with an average tenure of 28.5 years, and retirement at 66. Brian DeChesare, Venture Capital Careers: The Complete Guide; Average C-level executive tenure is 5.3 years, set as six in model for conservatism. Korn Ferry Institute, Age and Tenure in the C-suite: Korn Ferry Institute Study Reveals Trends by Title and Industry, 2017; Median board tenure set at 8.7 years. Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Board Refreshment Trends at S&P 1500 Firms, 2017. Another key assumption in the model is the assumed growth rates in the number of roles available (based on natural inflation trend and rate of retirement).

4We recognize that a 100% women hiring rate is an unrealistic case—we offer it to illustrate how long the shift to gender parity would take under an extreme assumption that will not occur.

5The model assumption of a hiring ratio of 50% women (and 50% men) results in a curve that is asymptotic at 50% (and will therefore never quite reach the 50% parity mark).

6International Finance Corporation, Oliver Wyman, RockCreek, Moving Toward Gender Balance in Private Equity and Venture Capital, 2019.

7As of Q3 2019, Rock Health Venture Funding Database.

8Pitchbook and All Raise, All In: Women in the VC Ecosystem, 2019.

9Respondents from VC firms who self-identified as “Managing Partner” and “Partner” were categorized as leaders. Respondents from startups who self-identified as “C-Suite,” “Founder,” “President and CEO,” and “VP/SVP” were categorized as leaders.

10Respondents from VC firms who self-identified as “Associate Director,” “Associate/Senior Associate,” “Director,” “Fellow,” “Innovation Sourcing and Recruitment Lead,” “Manager,” and “Principal” were categorized as employees. Respondents from startups who self-identified as “Associate,” “Attorney,” “Director,” “Head of Research,” “Liaison,” “Manager,” “MBA Intern,” “Senior Software Engineer,” “Software Engineer,” and “Specialist” were categorized as employees.

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