Venture Industry Still Mostly White Guys, But Ethnic Diversity Is Slowly Increasing

Venture capitalism in the United States continues to be an insular industry with men vastly out numbering women and ethnic diversity still at low levels. But some change appears afoot.

This is according to a survey of 600 professionals released Monday by the National Venture Capital Association and Dow Jones VentureSource.

The study found that 89% of industry workers with investment roles were male and 11% were female. This is a modest change from 2008 when 86% were men and 14% were women.

Ethnic makeup was similarly one-sided. This year’s survey found 87% of the industry’s workforce to be Caucasian, 9% Asian and 2% African American or Latino. Three years ago the breakdown was similar: 88% were Caucasian, 8% were Asian and 3% were African American or Hispanic.

The new report comes on the heels of a recent report by CNN, which questions whether Silicon Valley’s tech industry and venture capitalists are biased against African American entrepreneurs. The report set off a heated debate in the blogosphere, and “The Lean Startup” author Eric Ries weighed in over the weekend.

One point of interest in the NVCA study is that younger industry professionals are a more diverse lot. Those with less than five years of experience are 77% Caucasian, 17% Asian and 3% African American or Latino, the study found.

Here are several other observations from the survey:

  • Life sciences had the highest makeup of women investors: 18%. Cleantech followed with 15%.
  • The male-female breakdown of administrative positions told a different story. Sixty-two percent were women and 38% were men.
  • VCs work long hours. Forty-four percent of investors said they work more than 60 hours a week.
  • Top universities for VCs are Stanford and Harvard (10% of VCs attended each), the University of Pennsylvania at 8%, the University of California at Berkeley at 5% and MIT at 4 percent.
  • Fifteen percent of investors were once CEOs or founders of venture-backed startups.