Article | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 2014

Investors Prefer Entrepreneurial Ventures Pitched by Attractive Men

by A.W. Brooks, L. Huang, S.W. Kearney and F. Murray

Abstract

Entrepreneurship is a central path to job creation, economic growth, and prosperity. In the earliest stages of start-up business creation, the matching of entrepreneurial ventures to investors is critically important. The entrepreneur's business proposition and previous experience are regarded as the main criteria for investment decisions. Our research, however, documents other critical criteria that investors use to make these decisions: the gender and physical attractiveness of the entrepreneurs themselves. Across a field setting (three entrepreneurial pitch competitions in the United States) and two experiments, we identify a profound and consistent gender gap in entrepreneur persuasiveness. Investors prefer pitches presented by male entrepreneurs compared with pitches made by female entrepreneurs, even when the content of the pitch is the same. This effect is moderated by male physical attractiveness: attractive males were particularly persuasive, whereas physical attractiveness did not matter among female entrepreneurs.

Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Entrepreneurship; Investment; Gender Characteristics;

Citation:

Brooks, A.W., L. Huang, S.W. Kearney, and F. Murray. "Investors Prefer Entrepreneurial Ventures Pitched by Attractive Men." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, no. 12 (March 25, 2014): 4427–4431.