Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women?

68 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2017 Last revised: 22 Nov 2018

See all articles by Michael Ewens

Michael Ewens

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Richard Townsend

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Date Written: November 20, 2018

Abstract

We study whether early stage investors have gender biases using a proprietary dataset from AngelList that allows us to observe private interactions between investors and fundraising startups. We find that male investors express less interest in female entrepreneurs compared to observably similar male entrepreneurs. In contrast, female investors express more interest in female entrepreneurs. These findings do not appear to be driven by within-gender screening/monitoring advantages or gender differences in risk preferences. Moreover, the male-led startups that male investors express interest in do not outperform the female-led startups they express interest in—they underperform. Overall, the evidence is consistent with gender biases.

Keywords: gender, entrepreneurship, angel investing, venture capital, Gender Gap, Bias

JEL Classification: L26, G24, J16, J71

Suggested Citation

Ewens, Michael and Townsend, Richard, Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women? (November 20, 2018). Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2953011 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2953011

Michael Ewens (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Richard Townsend

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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