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The percentage of venture-backed startups with at least one female founder has plateaued at 17 percent for the past five years. (Crunchbase Graphic)

There have been increasing efforts over the past few years to close the gender gap in tech, and particularly in startups. A high-profile scandal inside Uber’s engineering division, and constant efforts from women in business and tech positions, have made diversity front-and-center in the minds of many.

So how much have the headlines, the hours spent networking and the push for diversity in hiring changed the landscape for women at the heads of startups? Not much, it turns out.

A new report from Crunchbase’s ongoing study of female founders found that just 17 percent of venture-backed companies in the first quarter of 2017 had at least one female founder. The same was true for all of 2016.

In fact, that number has held steady since 2012 — apart from in 2015, where it was just 16 percent.

A meeting of the F Bomb Breakfast Club, a support and networking group for female founders. (GeekWire Photo / Clare McGrane)

The report also found that women-led startups receive fewer investment dollars than male-led startups at every stage of the funding process. The gap is particularly large in late-stage funding, where startups with at least one female founder raised just 8 percent of rounds and 7 percent of total dollars.

The lack of movement in the founder gender gap over the past five years tells us something many women already knew: There’s no silver bullet to solve diversity challenges.

Many of the factors that influence gender gaps in startups, and more generally in tech industry leadership, have to do with deeply ingrained social and cultural norms. Unfortunately, there’s very little research to help companies, investors and founders address the problem.

A recent study from TinyPulse also indicates startup leaders have a blind spot when it comes to culture: the study found that leaders consistently rated their company’s culture better than their employees did.

The same study found that startups with female founders tended to grow faster, possibly because more diverse workforces are consistently found to lead to better results.

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