Mar 26, 2015 · 1 minute

We all know the statistics. Women make up only 14 percent of management positions at technology firms. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of VC-backed founders are women -- which perhaps makes sense considering that only 4 percent of partner-level venture capitalists are women.

Of course, sexism skeptics would say, "But that's because only 18 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women." (Even if that was the only reason, these statistics would still be too low).

What about an industry where women already make up over half the workforce, like healthcare? Surely women must be more fairly represented in leadership positions in that sector, right?

Not according to a new study from Rock Health, which provides seed funding for digital health startups. It found that at Fortune 500 healthcare companies, women made up only 21 percent of board members. That's not much higher than the percentage of woman board members across all Fortune 500 companies (16.9 percent). Meanwhile, there is only one woman who serves as CEO at any Fortune 500 healthcare company.

What's even worse, is that only 6 percent of CEOs running venture-funded digital health startups are women (that's considerably lower than the 10 percent of VC-funded founders across all industries who are women).

That might be because at the 148 venture capital firms investing in digital health, women only made up 10 percent of the partners.

The report goes on:

In fact, 75 of those firms have ZERO women partners (including Highland Capital, Third Rock,Sequoia, Shasta Ventures). Venture firms with women investment partners are 3X more likely to investin companies with women CEOs. It’s no wonder women CEOs aren’t getting funded.
But perhaps the most striking takeaway from the report is that, companies where women serve in top positions are at a considerable financial advantage:
Companies with women CEOs outperform the stock market, and companies with women on their boards outperform male-only boards by 26 percent.Researchers even estimate that transitioning from a single-gender office to an office evenly split between men and women be associated with a revenue gain of 41%.
This is a common theme when discussing diversity. While some view efforts to increase the numbers of women and minorities within certain industries as some kind of "charity" or "good works," in truth the firms have as much to gain from diversity efforts as the employees themselves.

Read the whole report here.

[illustration by Hallie Bateman]