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Ruth Shaber

Founder & President at Tara Health Foundation | Author of ‘The XX Edge’

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United States

I’m thrilled to report that there are more companies and more new technologies. This includes new science for significant women’s health issues that have been overlooked for decades, such as endometriosis, preeclampsia and ovarian cancer screening. And, we are also seeing new platforms for delivery of women’s health services and self care opportunities. The pipeline of investment opportunities is robust!

Despite the new science and technology, the biggest challenges come from a lack of capital at the early seed stage, and also growth capital for successful companies to expand and scale. This is because institutional investors and strategic partners such as big pharmaceutical companies don’t see the market opportunities. The people sitting in the capital allocation seats are still mostly white men. Only 14% of portfolio managers are women (and this number hasn’t changed in 20 years) and women only control about 8% of capital. This means that “GroupThink” largely drives investment decisions and a group of white men are unlikely to appreciate the huge investment opportunity of women’s health innovation.

Asset owners (Family offices, endowments, pension funds, foundations) need to demand that their investment dollars are managed by teams that include more women. When more women are portfolio mangers at venture capital firms, they will see the opportunities to invest in women’s health technologies and drive the industry forward. But, the investment firms will never have the motivation to diversify their teams until their clients (their LPs) insist that they do so. This will be how we change the finance system and bring more capital to companies committed to improving women’s health outcomes.

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