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Women are catching up to tech bros in one corner of Silicon Valley

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
High five.
By Sonali Kohli
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Education technology is a rapidly growing field, with funding hitting close to $2 billion last year, and a growing ecosystem of tech incubators. But unlike in much of the male-dominated startup world, women have considerable representation in three major US ed tech incubators—Imagine K12, LearnLaunch, and the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator.

That’s according to an analysis by Tony Wan of the education technology research group EdSurge (published in Fast Company).

Altogether, 30.5% of the companies in these three incubators have female founders on their teams. The picture looks less rosy when broken down by individuals, rather than companies: Out of all the people who are founders and co-founders at ed startups in the incubators, only 17.7% are women.

Imagine K12, which launched in 2010, three years before the others, has spawned the most companies—71 compared to 21 and 13 for Kaplan and LearnLaunch, respectively, according to Fast Company. However, it has the lowest share of companies with female founders, at just under 24%.

As the field of ed tech has seen more attention from investors, the number of women in the incubators has also grown, Imagine K12 director Karen Lien tells Quartz. The incubator’s first cohort had no women co-founders, while the latest one saw seven companies out of 17 with at least one female co-founder—which worked out to 10 female co-founders out of 43.

“We are happy to have women founders in our cohorts,” Lien tells Quartz. “It has happened naturally, without changing our selection process.”

It makes sense that women should be at the helm of education technology, since three-quarters of US educators are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lien tells Quartz that Imagine K12 encourages ideas from teachers.

News of progress toward gender equity in education tech incubators is particularly positive because two of the primary complaints of female technology entrepreneurs are the lack of financing and of mentors, according to a recent report from the Kauffman Foundation, which conducts education and entrepreneurship research.

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