Benevolent Sexism and the Gender Gap in Startup Evaluation

Published: 20 June 2023

Authors: Nhu Nguyen, Ivona Hideg, Yuval Engel, and Frédéric Godart

Publication: Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Forthcoming; OnlineFirst – First published online June 8, 2023


Women-led startups are evaluated less favorably than men-led startups, but the reasons for this require further investigation. Drawing on ambivalent sexism theory, we posit that benevolent sexism undermines gender equity in startup evaluation. We initially expected benevolent sexism to be negatively related to evaluations of women-led startups. Surprisingly, we found that benevolent sexism is unrelated to evaluations of women-led startups but is positively related to those of men-led startups—a finding that was replicated in two additional studies. Our work demonstrates benevolent sexism as an advantaging mechanism of inequity in entrepreneurship that boosts men’s outcomes without directly harming women’s outcomes.

Nhu (Julie) Nguyen

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