Benevolent sexism among venture capitalists advantages male entrepreneurs

Published: 27 February 2024

Just 17% of Canada’s small- and medium-sized enterprises are owned by women, and benevolent sexism among venture capitalists is one of the reasons for this yawning gap between female and male entrepreneurs. Benevolent sexism is a form of bias that appears positive on the surface, but ultimately reinforces gender roles and entrenches inequality, writes Desautels PhD candidate Nhu Nguyen in The Conversation. Benevolent sexism often portrays women as delicate or in need of protection, while men are positioned as the providers and protectors. These perceptions advantage male entrepreneurs. In research published in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Nguyen found that the more venture capitalists endorsed benevolent sexist beliefs, the more positively they judged men-led startups – and this finding held whether the evaluators themselves were men or women themselves.

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