The Diana Project: Researching Investment in Women-Led Ventures
By Constance Gamache (Research Lead) and Madison Hofert (Undergraduate Researcher)
The Diana Project began in 1999 out of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College to research women entrepreneurs in the US. Soon after releasing their initial findings in 1999, The Diana Project partnered with the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Research Institute, Sweden to form the Diana International collaborative. The Diana Project continues to research and publish reports on the state of women entrepreneurs, and Diana International hosts regular conferences around the world pertaining to these same issues. The 2020 Diana International Research Conference will be held at IPAG Business School in Nice, France on October 19-20.
The Diana Project’s 2014 report, Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital, still stands as one of the most comprehensive sources on gender diversity in VC ever published. Four main questions structure the report:
- Do women entrepreneurs seek and receive the venture capital needed to grow their businesses?
- How are women entrepreneurs performing after receiving venture capital?
- Who are the venture capital firms investing in women entrepreneurs?
- Who are the women entrepreneurs receiving venture capital investment?
The report also includes valuable data on the types of women-owned companies that receive VC funding and profiles of women partners in VC firms.
Nine recommendations for firms conclude the report, largely centering around the importance of hiring and promoting women VCs to the partner level, and encouraging a re-examination of potentially gender biased investment decisions (read through all 9 here, page 19).
- The 2014 report conclusion: “… companies with women on the executive team are just as successful if not more successful than companies with no women on the team.
The lack of diversity in the venture capital industry, taken together with the overall performance of the industry, suggests that the model for venture capital that has been in place since the 1980s should be reconsidered and re-evaluated in order to affect change.”
- Critical thinking from any perspective can kickstart change: starting with the four questions above, anything from one’s personal outlook and actions regarding D&I to changes in VC-wide culture can happen
- *Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital, by Professors Candida G. Brush, Patricia G. Greene, Lakshmi Balachandra, and Amy E. Davis for the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College, September 2014
- The Diana Project
- The Diana Project Conference 2020
*Denotes Key Source