Thanks for raising this issue. Also kudos to all the guys on here participating in the conversation and providing great suggestions. I love it!
By my photo you can tell I am a woman and a person of color - a double "minority" as they say. I've never faced overt racism or sexism but I did get some funny looks when I was pitching pregnant (smile).
In my experience, being "different" affords great exposure but also greater scrutiny/barriers. You take the good with the bad. I think it is pointless to debate whether the root of it all is prejudice, sexism, no matter how overt or covert. The answer is likely somewhere in between. The bottom line is people like doing business with people they know, like and trust. Men, particularly, "nerdy men" understand, like and trust other "nerdy men" and currently they are who control most of the VC purse strings.
1. Turn your liability into an asset.
Turn what makes you different into a selling point for why you are the best person to run your business and kill it. Someone who has done this well is the LearnVest CEO - Alexa (NY based). She came up with the idea for a financial literacy platform for women - she pitched at TechCrunch Disrupt in her early days and she took some very hard questions from the judges who were mostly men and just didn't get the need for something beyond Mint or the other more generic platforms. She knew her strength was in understanding the unique issues women face with gaining confidence with managing their money. She owned her story and uniqueness and really killed it. Here is the link
if you'd like to watch. She has since raised over $20M+ by the likes of Accel, etc.
2. Know which VCs fund your type of business. Another poster mentioned this. Not all VCs are alike. This is something I had to learn myself. We are innovating in the relationship tech space creating services for couples - not singles. Lots of VCs don't get this. In fact, talking about relationships makes them uncomfortable. If you look at the history of online dating - the founder of eHarmony himself had a hard time raising money despite 35 years under his belt as a relationship/marriage counselor. Now online dating is a $10B+ industry. Again goes the pattern recognition point - VC invest in what they know and understand or what is deemed "hot" (read: Bitcoin). I would suggest that you spend some time on AngelList and see what other companies are like yours that have gotten funded in the past. Reach out to those Founders and see what their funding story is. They likely have a list of friendly VC's who get what you are trying to do.
3. Be Better. I hate to say it but as a women I really believe you just have to be better. Bring your A game all the time. It might be worth investing in some pitch coaching sessions to get some candid feedback on your pitch and things you might not even know you are doing to make it harder for yourself. I participated in Astia and had a great session with CEO Coach "Mac". He is awesome and might be worth reaching out to. Below are his LinkedIn details, he's helped tons of Founders raise millions and has connections with VCs coast to coast. Also, I and other women on FD would also likely be willing to give you candid feedback as well.
4. Realize that Most Companies Don't get VC Funding, So Have a Plan B.
VC funding is one path to growth but there are several others. Self funding through revenue is one that is often overlooked. In fact, a lot women run companies start off self-funding then seek venture once they have expansion needs and a proven business model. I think it is humbling to realize that on average only 1,001 first time companies get VC funding each year and only 1% of all funding goes to companies with women CEOs. (this is all 2010 data - the latest available). So, have a plan B. Anything that you are doing to execute on your business will also make you more fundable. Got Revenue? That's definitely attractive to a VC. Got paying customers? Ditto. Whatever you do, keep iterating and moving the business forward.
I hope some of this is helpful. ...and I'm serious, ping me if you'd like candid feedback on your deck, pitch, etc.
Best of luck! Keep us posted.
*please excuse any typos, written on the go..!
**If you're interested, I've also blogged about some of my thoughts/experience being a female startup CEO here