Catalyze Seattle


The first study on gender in Seattle startups


Seattle’s startup ecosystem is among the fastest-growing in the country. The Emerald City also continues to earn its status as one of the hottest job markets in the United States. Yet, just one in five jobs in the rapidly-expanding technology sector are held by women, and just 17 percent of venture-backed startup companies in Seattle had at least one female founder. 

Martha Burwell, independent gender equity consultant and researcher, and author and journalist Ruchika Tulshyan, both Seattleites, wanted to find out why those numbers were so low. But when we sought data on gender and entrepreneurship in Seattle, virtually none existed. So we set out to to fill that information gap. 

Startups hold the opportunity not just to create jobs and financial value, but also social value. If we better understand how to build more diverse and inclusive startups, the potential impact as the company grows could help close gender and racial wage and leadership gaps. After all, today’s best-known companies – Amazon, Microsoft, Google, all began as startups.

Our study, the first of its kind, revealed fascinating insights into what contributes to gender inequities in Seattle startups. 

As an all-volunteer project, we are thrilled to share this data with the public. The startup industry is full of talented, innovative people. We invite you to use this information to create groundbreaking new companies that are inclusive from inception. Let’s do this right. 



Key Findings


Seattle startups exhibit gender and racial wage gaps, plus a gender leadership gap

Women are more highly educated, have more work experience, and are older than men in startups. Yet they are paid at least 10% less. We also found a 15% racial wage gap, and that women were more likely to hold entry-level, rather than leadership roles. 



Startups push out parents, particularly moms

Survey results showed that unequal division of labor in the home, and startups lack of support for parents, are linked to gender gap in Seattle startups. Yet we also found that some startups were able to successfully support parents. 



Gender plays a role in feeling included in startup culture

It’s “death by a thousand papercuts” for women at Seattle Startups. Survey results reveal that feeling out of place or discriminated against due to male-dominated culture is indicative of a significant contributor to lower numbers of women.   



Gender linked to access to resources

We found that men tend to have easier access to mentorship, that mentors for all genders are more likely to be male, and that women likely face
barriers in accessing funding.



The percentage of women on the founding team
linked to diversity 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Women, people of color, and parents of all genders were more likely to work at a startup that has more women on the founding team.



Ready to start exploring the data?