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What VCs Think About Women Entrepreneurs

An upcoming study examines exactly what VCs see when they look at a women entrepreneurs' skill-sets. Here's a preview.

An upcoming study from Stanford's Clayman Institute reveals that VCs may penalize women entrepreneurs who don't have a technical skill set. The study created two identical executive summaries and then swapped gender and education combinations, which were then all shown to potential VCs for reaction.

VCs were pitched the same idea from four types of entrepreneurs: (1) a man with no technical skills, but a business background; (2) a woman with no technical skills, but business background; and then a man (3) and a woman (4) with a technical background. 

"What we found was that having a technical background helped both men and women. But it helped women more, in terms of likelihood to invest a higher percentage, and likelihood to schedule a meeting with an entrepreneur," Andrea Davies Henderson, one of the researchers on the study, told Buzzfeed

However, the same cannot be said of candidates with business background. According to Henderson, the study found that "not having a technical background hurt women -- it hurt their chances of securing a meeting and securing funding. But it didn't hurt men."

Women are still battling with the perception that entrepreneurs are typically male and by trying to launch and fund a start-up without the appropriate technical skills they are in "violation cultural norms within a corporate setting," said Henderson. Men without a technical skill set are, however, are unharmed.

The study found that having strategic connections and strong recommendations within their network helped women entrepreneurs more than men when it came to trying to attract attention of venture capitalists. 


Last updated: Mar 29, 2013


Jana Kasperkevic is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, where she earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and Political Science. She covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship for Inc. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, InvestmentNews, Business Insider, and Houston Chronicle, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.

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