Research shows that
investors put female
founders on the defensive
more than they do their
male counterparts. Now
there’s a strategy to turn
the conversation around.
By Kimberly Weisul
There are investor pitches that go well. There are the fat-out disasters. And then there are the ones “where two guys spend the whole time picking
apart your business,” says Lynn Loacker,
who runs a series of boot camps for
women entrepreneurs under the banner
of Project W, and is a partner at the law
frm Davis Wright Tremaine.
The outcome of that last scenario—
which doesn’t generally result in a
check—is at least somewhat determined
by an entrepreneur’s gender, according
to research from Columbia Business
School’s Dana Kanze that was recently
published in Academy of Management
Journal. By analyzing video of 189 pitch
sessions at TechCrunch Disrupt, Kanze,
along with co-authors Laura Huang,
Mark A. Conley, and E. Tory Higgins,
found that investors ask men diferent
types of questions than they ask women.
When men respond directly to the
questions they’re asked, they get to
expound on their grand ambitions.
When women respond directly to the
questions they’re asked, they seem
cautious and conservative.
The result: Investors walk away
telling themselves that women want to
play it safe and men want to take over
Kanze’s advice to women entrepreneurs? Be less direct. (Seriously.)
Kanze and her team identify two
types of questions: prevention and
HOW FEMALE FOUNDERS
CAN COMBAT BIAS