Investors are more likely to put money into a business idea pitched by a man than a woman, according to a study published by researchers from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Wharton School. And are even more so if that man happens to be good-looking, it said.
"We identify a profound and consistent gender gap in entrepreneurship," the researchers said in the report which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Attractive males are particularly persuasive, whereas physical attractiveness does not matter among female entrepreneurs."
"We identify a profound and consistent gender gap in entrepreneurship."
Three entrepreneurial pitch competitions in the United States were used for the study along with two controlled experiments. Even with the content of the pitch being the same, the investors still preferred pitches presented by male entrepreneurs, it said.
Typically, when pitching to investors or venture capitalists it is the entrepreneur's business proposition and previous experience that are regarded as the main criteria for investment decisions. But the report suggests that a decent idea and an experienced presenter might not be enough.
The results might have particular relevance in the U.S., known for its flourishing mix of startups and business ventures. About 43 percent of Americans believe there are good opportunities in entrepreneurship, according to a report last year by Babson and Baruch Colleges. This is up by more than 20 percent since 2011 and the highest level recorded in the 15-year history of the study.
Entrepreneurship is seen as a central path to job creation, economic growth, and prosperity and Monday's findings shows a bias and a "profound" gender gap. Babson and Baruch launched a global economic monitor looking at female involvement in entrepreneurship. Its findings said that the United States generally does not suffer from "overt discrimination" in regards to opportunities or resources related to women starting and growing businesses.