Venture Capital's 'Me Too' Moment

49 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2021 Last revised: 15 Sep 2021

See all articles by Sophie Calder-Wang

Sophie Calder-Wang

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Paul A. Gompers

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Patrick Sweeney

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2, 2021


In this paper, we document the historically low rate of hiring of women in the venture capital sector. We find that the high-profile Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins gender discrimination trial had dramatic treatment effects. In difference-in-differences regressions, we find that the rate of hiring of female venture capitalists increased substantially after the trial and that the hiring was more pronounced in states that were more receptive to the exposure. We use the state-level mandated maternity benefits as an instrument for the receptivity to the treatment effects of the Pao Trial. We also show that the fraction of founders who are female increases after the Pao Trial, but that the increase is driven entirely by the hiring of female venture capitalists. There is no increase in the propensity of male venture capitalists to differentially invest in female founders in the post-Pao Trial period.

Keywords: venture capital, gender diversity, discrimination

Suggested Citation

Calder-Wang, Sophie and Gompers, Paul A. and Sweeney, Patrick, Venture Capital's 'Me Too' Moment (August 2, 2021). Jacobs Levy Equity Management Center for Quantitative Financial Research Paper , NBER Working Paper No. w28679, Available at SSRN: or

Sophie Calder-Wang (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

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Paul A. Gompers

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
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617-496-8443 (Fax)

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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Patrick Sweeney

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

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