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David Nicklaus is a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Prosper spring 2015 class

Members of the Prosper accelerator's first class included, from left, Jolijt Tamanaha of Champio; Dana Kay Goddard and Betsy Fore of Wondermento; Anoo Nathan of Smart Monitor; Mary Louise Helbig of HealthyMe; Evelyne White of BookaLokal; and Aarti Parikh of KiteReader. The program for women entrepreneurs concluded with a Demo Day on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at Washington University.

For International Women's Day, Brookings Institution researcher Ian Hathaway took a look at the gender gap in venture capital financing.

The gap is wide -- in 2017, just 16 percent of venture money went to startups led by women -- but Hathaway found a lot of regional variation.

For the years 2016 and 2017, women-led firms represented 58 percent of startups getting their first financing in Ann Arbor, Mich., but got no venture money in San Antonio, Texas, and just 2 percent in Atlanta.

In St. Louis, 38 startups got their first venture capital in those two years and 13 of them were led by women. That proportion, 38 percent, ranked fifth among the 50 biggest U.S. metro areas.

St. Louis didn't do as well over a longer period from 2005 to 2017. Over those 13 years, 29 of 181 funded startups were led by women. That's 16 percent, which was identical to the national average.

Hathaway found that the women-led startups tend to do better in areas where Hillary Clinton got a larger percentage of the presidential vote in 2016. Women also got more funding in areas with the fastest-growing startup scenes.

"This may suggest that faster growing regions, large and small, are either less saddled by the legacy of male dominated venture capital and segments of the information technology sector, or that growth is increasingly being driven by cities that are more welcome to female founders," Hathaway writes.

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