Gender Match and the Gender Gap in Venture Capital Financing: Evidence from Shark Tank

35 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2021

See all articles by Michael Jetter

Michael Jetter

University of Western Australia; IZA

Kieran Stockley

affiliation not provided to SSRN


Although the gender gap in entrepreneurs' success rates to secure funding is staggering, we know little about its causes. This is because observing both sides of investor-entrepreneur interactions (especially for unsuccessful pitches) is difficult in reality, and the associated extraordinary stakes complicate appropriate simulations in the laboratory. Using comprehensive data of 4,893 interactions from the popular US television show Shark Tank, we test whether gender match with entrepreneurs can explain investors' likelihood to extend funding offers. We find female investors are 30% more likely to engage with female (rather than male) entrepreneurs, while no systematic gender preferences emerge for male investors. This result is exclusive to entrepreneurs in non-male-dominated product categories but disappears in male-dominated products. Estimates are robust to the inclusion of a comprehensive set of control variables (such as asking valuation, investor-, and season-fixed effects) and a range of alternative specifications. These findings from a field setting with large, real-life stakes provide empirical support for the industry representation hypothesis regarding the gender gap in venture capital funding. While results should be interpreted with caution, our findings suggest increased numbers of women in key venture capital positions could facilitate access to funds for female entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, our setting is not suited to fully explore associated efficiency considerations.

JEL Classification: D91, G11, G24, G41, J16

Suggested Citation

Jetter, Michael and Stockley, Kieran, Gender Match and the Gender Gap in Venture Capital Financing: Evidence from Shark Tank. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14069, Available at SSRN:

Michael Jetter (Contact Author)

University of Western Australia ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009

Kieran Stockley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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