(Bloomberg) -- Female founders secured only 2% of venture capital in the U.S. in 2021, the smallest share since 2016 and a sign that efforts to diversify the famously male-dominated industry are struggling.

It was the second year in a row that women’s percentage of VC funding shrank, according to a report by research firm PitchBook. However, because total funding levels in 2021 hit all-time highs, the overall dollar value of the funding to female founders rose. 

Massive, late-stage deals drove total fundraising in the U.S. to $330 billion in 2021 -- nearly doubling the industry’s previous record in 2020. Female-only founding teams collected $6.4 billion of that across 217 deals, a record amount. 

When women teamed up with a male co-founder, they tended to raise more. Female and male founder teams captured 15.6% of total venture cash in 2021 -- the highest amount since 2017.

Jenny Lefcourt is a general partner at venture firm Freestyle Capital and a board member of All Raise, a nonprofit focused on increasing representation of female and nonbinary founders and funders.

Lefcourt said the gap in capital allocated by gender in 2021 was especially disappointing given the industry’s overall surge and said significant work remains to be done to close it. 

She also said the recent increase in the number of female and non-binary venture capitalists in recent years has been “impressive” and could help over time because “data shows women are more likely to fund women.”

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