The bipartisan California Legislative Women’s Caucus (LWC) was formed in 1985 by nine Democrats and six Republicans. Today, 50 of the Legislature’s 120 members are women -- the Caucus now includes 18 Senators (15 Democrats and three Republicans) and 32 Assemblymembers (27 Democrats and five Republicans).
Reducing barriers that prevent wealth creation for women is a concern for me and for the Women’s Caucus. Unfortunately, female entrepreneurs have trouble raising investment funds for new ventures. Despite controlling about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending worldwide, women-run businesses only receive under 2% of venture capital investments. Data for the U.S. are no different. In 2018, women-owned startups only got 2% of the $85 billion raised for venture capital funding, even though women owned 38% of the businesses. And women of color fare even worse. Though their companies are the fastest growing segment of female-owned businesses, they received only 0.2% of venture capital funding.
One possible solution is the growing number of female-owned venture capital companies. They are twice as likely as their male-owned counterparts to invest in companies founded by women. However, additional future funding can still be difficult to obtain.
So what’s the answer? Since venture capital is private, direct government involvement is limited. Educating the public, including venture capitalists, may help. This session I co-authored a number of bills designed to heighten public awareness about the need to include women in all areas of the workforce. These include Assembly Concurrent Resolution 8 (ACR 8) – “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day;” ACR 42, “Women’s Equal Pay Day;” ACR 109, “Women’s Small Business Month;” and SCR 29, Women in Construction Week.”
I will continue to work with the Legislative Women’s Caucus on legislation that reduces barriers for women as they expand their presence in the front office, and throughout the workforce.