Gender and Racial Bias in Venture Capital

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Time: 12:00pm-1:00pm
Location: Virtual

In collaboration with:


Free to Attend


From the world’s major innovation hubs, startups have blossomed into businesses of unprecedented scale, impacting billions of people across all walks of life, geographies, genders, and racial backgrounds. Yet, in spite of the proven benefits of diversity for a company’s success, research shows that gender and racial biases continue to persist among investors, and in some cases the biases have actually risen in 2020. This panel will discuss these pressing issues and potential solutions for lasting change.


Our Distinguished Speakers


Maya Ackerman, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering Santa Clara University School of Engineering

CEO & Co-founder – WaveAI

Researcher and entrepreneur, Dr. Maya Ackerman, is an expert on Machine Learning, named “2020 Woman of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. She is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Santa Clara University, and CEO/Co-Founder of musical AI startup, WaveAI.

Interviews with Dr. Ackerman appeared on NBC News, New Scientist,, and international television stations across the globe, and she has been an invited speaker at the United Nations, IBM Research, Google, and Stanford University, amongst many other venues.

Dr. Ackerman is the recipient of awards from the Association of Computational Creativity, Office of Naval Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Startup Conference and more. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Caltech and UC San Diego.


Priya Saiprasad

Mayfield Fund

Priya is a Partner at Mayfield who is passionate about investing in and partnering with ground-breaking entrepreneurs in enterprise software technology. Most recently, she was a founding member of M12 (Microsoft’s venture capital fund) leading investments in AI and analytics enabled software companies. Previously, she was part of Square’s Corporate Development and Strategy team, where she led several acquisitions in the mobile payments, SMB software, and AI and ML spaces.

Priya started her career as an Investment Banking Analyst for UBS. Her prior investments include Element AI, Go1, Skedulo, Workboard and Bonsai, which got acquired by Microsoft. Priya’s industry visibility and track record earned her a spot in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 venture capital list. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration and graduated with highest honors from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.


Ann Skeet

Senior Director, Leadership Ethics
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics – Santa Clara University

Ann (Gregg) Skeet joined the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University as its senior director of leadership ethics in 2014. She researches, writes, and speaks about the ethical dilemmas of leaders and followers, corporate culture, and the ethical challenges of governance. She works with executives to shape and reinforce organizational cultures that encourage ethical outcomes.

Skeet is a member of the Partnership on AI’s Working Group on AI, Labor and the Economy and the steering committee for the Responsible Use of Technology at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the 4th Industrial Revolution. She launched a social sector ethics program and led development of a customized version of Standards for Excellence, a national code of ethics and accountability for the nonprofit sector, using the Center’s Framework for Ethical Decision Making. She writes about issues facing leaders across sectors regularly for her blog, Benison: The Practice of Ethical Leadership, and other media outlets, and is a frequent media commentator.

Ann graduated magna cum laude from Bucknell University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School and spent her early career working in outside plant for C&P Telephone Company in the Washington, D.C. area.


Ken Elefant

Partner & Co-founder
Sorenson Ventures

Ken Elefant joined Sorenson Capital in 2017 and leads the firm’s early-stage technology practice. Prior to Sorenson Capital, Ken spent more than 20 years in Silicon Valley at leading venture capital firms including Battery Ventures, Lightspeed and Intel Capital. Ken enjoys working closely with entrepreneurs to help them attack new market opportunities and gain access to key initial customers and partners. His efforts have led to recognition as one of the most connected names in tech.

At Sorenson Ventures, Ken has partnered with entrepreneurs in market leading companies such as CyCognito (attack surface security), Openpath (access control), Octarine (cloud security), CloudKnox (Authorization), Bridgecrew (stealth, cloud security), Paperspace (machine learning), SupportLogic (customer support platform) and Qualio (quality management software).

Ken received an MBA from Harvard Business School and holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from the Wharton SchKen received an MBA from Harvard Business School and holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from the Wharton School of Business. He is a Kauffman Fellow.