Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report (WISER) 

This study seeks to map the current state of women’s participation in India’s startup ecosystem, and identify levers that founders and investors can employ to increase their participation.  


India’s female labour force participation rate is among the lowest in the world – 19% as against the global average of 49%. While multiple initiatives are trying to tackle this at a systemic level, there has been limited focus on enabling employers as a lever for change. Start-ups are one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic segments of the private sector, and their unique organisational structure and culture can enable the piloting of new initiatives. LEAD is collaborating with ACT Grants and Udaiti Foundation to conduct the first and largest of its kind research study that focuses exclusively on Indian startups and aims to help them advance gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. 

Specifically, it seeks to:

  • Create a baseline of women’s participation to show the existing state of the sector and facilitate future tracking and monitoring 
  • Understand the reasons for unequal participation of women at each level and identify levers that founders & investors can employ to increase women’s participation 


The study will gather insights from startups, employees and key stakeholders through surveys, KIIs and FGDs. 


This study will bridge a critical gap in the data and literature on startups and gender diversity in India by establishing a baseline of gender participation in startups across levels, sectors and stages of startups. Further, it will advance employers’ understanding of women’s motivations and aspirations to join and stay in startups and identify successful actionable enablers from a policy and industry perspective.  

Results forthcoming. 

Project Leads

Aakanksha Gulati, Sowjanya Kanuri


Act Grants, Udaiti Foundation