The state of gender equality in EU startups

Our mission at Figures is to empower companies to make fair and efficient compensation decisions.

To take measurable and impactful actions, we must first clearly understand where things stand.
This is why you’ll find below the most transparent picture possible of Gender Equality in European start-ups: accept this as our modest contribution to fight for a more equitable world.
Updated on 2022.05.22 - based on 417 companies and 32650 employees.
Unadjusted gender
pay gap
Adjusted gender
pay gap

Our methodology explained here

The unadjusted gender pay gap measures overall differences in pay between men and women. It’s a consequence of many causes
(representation of women per sector, part-time work, glass ceiling effect, etc.),
and less an issue tied to compensation only.
The adjusted gender pay gap is the difference in pay between men and women holding the same role in the same location. It’s the best indicator of “pure” compensation-related issues regarding gender equality.
In comparison, the OECD 2020 average unadjusted gender wage gap stands at 12.8%.

Women representation in

Women are less likely to be promoted and paid equitably in leadership positions because of gender stereotypes and bias.
→ Women are also more likely to deal with child-related constraints (daycare,
doctor, etc.) within the couple and therefore regularly organize their schedules around them.
→This also puts them at a disadvantage regarding promotions because they are viewed as less worthy of investment.
This is what the glass ceiling is: a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents a given demographic (typically applied to women) from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy.
Proportion of women
among founders
Job family
Proportion of women
Customer support
General Administration
Legal & Compliance
Marketing & Growth
People Operations
Product & Design
Sales / Customer Success
Software Engineering
Tech (non software)

Women representation
per job family

While companies with at least one female founder have a better chance to exit and better overall performance, over 80% of VC Capital in 2021 went to an all-male founding team.
The pitch to investors is often more difficult for women because of unconscious biases, sexist remarks, lack of understanding of a sector, etc.
Representation issues start at the top of companies: we can’t create a fair and equitable start-up ecosystem with so little diversity in founding teams receiving capital.
A lot of the gender pay gap can be explained by representation: overrepresentation of women in Support Function or Customer Support roles, which – not coincidentally – are the less paid ones, and underrepresentation in Tech roles, often the most paid ones.
While companies can and have to address these representation issues, we must remember that the problem starts very early, from kindergarten onwards.
A change is also needed in hiring practices. Hiring based on “culture fit” tends to favour the status quo in a company, whether it be race, gender, age, socioeconomic level, etc.
Address these topics today with
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