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22 women who launched and led startups to an IPO

The odds are stacked against women in business. But they're really stacked against women founders.

Women who do start companies aren't able to scale their businesses to the same size as men. Only 28% of startups have a female founder, according to a 2019 Silicon Valley Bank report, and companies with all-women founding teams are given less than 3% of all US venture capital dollars.

Additionally, research by Insider and Nasdaq found that only about 20 companies currently trading had women founders who led them to an IPO. Four of those IPOs occurred in 2020, out of about 442 total in the US.

If that gap sounds bad, it's much worse for BIPOC women. Since 2018, only .64% of venture dollars have gone to Black and Latinx women founders, according to ProjectDiane, a biennial research study that tracks investment in companies founded by minorities.

Meet the 21 trailblazing women who have scaled their companies to successful IPOs. Whitney Wolfe, founder and CEO of Bumble, is set to become the 22nd woman, and the youngest at 31, when Bumble goes public later this week.

Leen Kawas founded pharmaceutical company Athira Pharma and took it public in September 2020.

Dr. Leen Kawas. Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

IPO Date: September 18, 2020

Market Cap: $774 million

Kawas was the first woman to guide a company through an IPO in Washington State in more than 20 years. Her pharmaceutical company, Athira, develops therapeutics to treat Alzheimer's and other diseases. Athira raised $204 million in its initial IPO.


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