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Female startup CEOs took a 30% pay cut in the pandemic. Male CEOs got a raise

June 29, 2021, 1:11 PM UTC
A woman works at a desktop computer in a home office on Aug. 22, 2020. New data shows that female startup founders took a substantial pay cut during the pandemic that they're yet to make up.
Stefan Wermuth—Bloomberg/Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A cofounder breakup rocks Great Jones, the Supreme Court leaves in place a lower court victory on LGBTQ rights, and female startup CEOs took a major pay cut during the pandemic. Have a great Tuesday.

– A glaring pay gap. We know the pandemic made the gender pay gap worse. Among startup CEOs, the COVID-era gulf was especially glaring.

New analysis of 250 seed- and venture-funded startups by accounting firm Kruze Consulting found that female CEOs took a 30% pay cut during the peak of the pandemic in the U.S., while their male counterparts received a 2% pay bump.

Women still haven’t recovered those reductions in pay. This year, they’re earning $132,000 on average, up from last year but still $6,000 less than what they took home in 2019. The salaries of male startup CEOs, meanwhile, have continued to climb.

The gender gap “was a shock,” Healy Jones, Kruze’s vice president of financial planning and analysis, told Protocol. “We knew that there was this trend of a lot of CEOs trying to cut their own pay to help the company, but we didn’t realize that it had fallen disproportionately on women.”

It’s likely some male CEOs took pay cuts to blunt the pandemic’s blow to their businesses, but those reductions were offset by the pay increases other male CEOs received.

Pay increases for startup CEOs usually coincide with funding rounds. And keep in mind that VC funding overall boomed 13% in 2020 compared to 2019, but the share that went to women-founded startups (which are more likely to have female CEOs) actually shank. They received 2.2% of the total, versus 2.6% the prior year. The pandemic-era pay cuts for female startup CEOs may be another place where that disparity is showing up.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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