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Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women?

Ewens, Michael and Townsend, Richard R. (2020) Are Early Stage Investors Biased Against Women? Journal of Financial Economics, 135 (3). pp. 653-677. ISSN 0304-405X.

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We study whether early stage investors have gender biases using a proprietary data set 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.

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Additional Information:© 2019 Published by Elsevier B.V. Received 27 April 2018, Revised 30 October 2018, Accepted 17 November 2018, Available online 11 July 2019. We are grateful to G. William Schwert (the editor), an anonymous referee, Tania Babina, Shai Bernstein, Anusha Chari, Juanita Gonzales-Uribe, Sabrina Howell, Arthur Korteweg, Ramana Nanda, David Neumark, and Sahil Raina for helpful comments. We also thank seminar participants at the American Finance Association 2017 annual meeting, Arizona State University, Caltech, HEC Paris workshop on Entrepreneurship and Development, Kauffman Emerging Scholars Conference, Kenan Institute Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference, LBS Private Equity Symposium, NBER Entrepreneurship, Norwegian School of Economics, Napa Conference on Financial Markets Research, and UC Irvine for helpful comments. We are especially grateful to Kevin Laws of AngelList for graciously providing the data. Townsend recognizes financial support from the Kauffman Foundation.
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Kauffman FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Gender gap; entrepreneurship; angel investors; bias
Issue or Number:3
Classification Code:JEL: G24; J16; L26
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171116-152128725
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Official Citation:Michael Ewens, Richard R. Townsend, Are early stage investors biased against women?, Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 135, Issue 3, 2020, Pages 653-677, ISSN 0304-405X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:83268
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Nov 2017 23:25
Last Modified:14 Feb 2020 22:21

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