Exploration of the Venture Capital Industry: Is Gender an Issue?

Candida Brush, Babson College, USA

(with Patricia Greene, Myra Hart, and Patrick Saparito)

Abstract

Since the early 1980s, new ventures with high growth potential and large capital needs have found an ever-increasing pool of venture capital available to support their growth. However, the flow of venture capital investment to women-led businesses remains meager in spite of the fact that in the US and Europe an increasing number of businesses are owned by women. The apparent disparity between potential investment opportunity and actual deals made between venture capital firms and women-led businesses raises the question of whether gender is an issue. The majority of venture capital studies investigate equity funds flows, investor criteria and the nature of the investor-investee relationship. Research on women entrepreneurs focuses on psychological dimensions, business characteristics and performance. Questions about the intersection of gender and venture capital financing are largely unexamined. This exploratory study utilizes longitudinal data to track US venture capital investments by proportion, stage, industry and gender. The descriptive statistics and our analysis of the findings suggest several hypotheses to explain the apparent gender gap.

 

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