Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women?

58 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2017 Last revised: 6 May 2018

Michael Ewens

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Richard Townsend

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

Date Written: April 29, 2018

Abstract

We examine whether male investors are biased against female entrepreneurs 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-led startups compared to observably similar male-led startups. Female investors do not exhibit the same behavior, despite appearing to have similar investment objectives; female investors agree with male investors when comparing founders who are all men, or all women. Finally, 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 some form of gender bias.

Keywords: gender, entrepreneurship, angel investing, venture capital

JEL Classification: J71, G24

Suggested Citation

Ewens, Michael and Townsend, Richard, Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women? (April 29, 2018). 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

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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