A researcher from Boston has shown by experimentation that the investors are able to distinguish clearly the project leaders according to their sex.
at 2.8%, this is the amount allocated to the women entrepreneurs that carry out innovative projects by the financial investors in the United States. In Europe, the figures are more blurred and less "catastrophic", without being "promising" : according to the report of the investment fund Atomico, 8% of the invested funds would go to women's teams. The barometer Start-Her 2019 evoked the figure of 2.2% for France, the barometer BCG-Sista was even talk of an average of 2% over the last ten years...
To remedy this, the association Sista, who just very recently to share his energies with Start'her, and counts on its charter, launched last fall, and that would have been signed, in June 2020, by 56 investors. For many this can be enough to move the lines ?
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Two recent studies provide a beginning of answer. The first is the report published at the beginning of July 2020 by the european investment Bank (1). In particular, it proposes a comparison between the European Union, the United States and other countries, including Israel. It outlines recommendations that are based on a joint work between the policy, believed to have the greatest impact, investment funds, mentors, chaperones, and finally, the public opinion. It also suggests providing financial support to funds that are "gender aware" and to accompany the others to help them to be aware of the discrimination that they operate against women.
The second study, published last June, is signed Lakshmi Balachandra. This graduate of MIT and a professor assistant at Babson College in Boston presents a triple look at the reasons why women fail to raise more funds : first woman to integrate the investment fund who was hired at the exit of her studies, she is also the founder of an investment fund dedicated to women, and thus, indirectly, an entrepreneur, and finally a researcher specialized in female entrepreneurship !
An ideal of"successful entrepreneur"
Her recent article, "How gender biases drive venture capital decision-making: exploring the gender funding gap" (2) has been submitted before publication to different policies, of which the equivalent of the minister of finance of the State of Virginia at a conference organized to find solutions in order to increase the famous rate of 2.8 per cent of funds allocated to women. The conclusion of Lakshmi Balachandra is unequivocal. According to it, for more than twenty years, "nothing changes" and "things have no reason to change" !
based primarily on the analysis of the results of the competitions the MIT is organizing to bring together promising entrepreneurs and investors who will fund their projects, it shows that investors have a mental image of a very special of the successful entrepreneur : "A young boy, white, very sure of himself, who has the sense of touch", she explains.
On the 186 projects "pitched out" that it has been able to analyze, only 30% were brought by women, and none, in fine, has not been retained. Conversely, all candidates who meet the characteristics of "the ideal," see their project selected, "regardless of the project, considering that they are all based on market studies, projections... in short, everything that is expected of a good project... except that the right project is the one that also contains good numbers. However, as is well known, the latter are overvalued by excess of confidence !", explains the researcher.
The discrimination is on the women... not on the type of activity
The researcher of the MIT has faced in its work, the shortage of projects led by women : "there weren't enough women who applied to fundraising. Impossible to conduct a study : there was no data !!!", she said. Lakshmi Balachandra has therefore conducted an experiment to which she has invited investors. To do this, it created two companies fictitious but credible and, especially, potentially generating growth, at least if one believes the market studies. The first exploits a patent to detect a type of cancer (which is not a cancer, "female"), whereas the second develops an activity perceived as more "feminine", that of interior decoration.
The researcher combines these companies to the founders fictitious look-alike in all points and submit four files to investors : a folder on a decorating company led by a woman, a case concerning a company of decoration worn by a man, a matter relating to a company's cancer detection brought by a woman, and, finally, a matter relating to a company's cancer detection, carried by a man. By this experiment, it has shown that investors do not discriminate against the kind of activity, but the sex of the person as a bearer of the project.
In fine, Lakshmi Balachandra said that its recent research findings are roughly similar to the comments that she has been doing in the past as an investor : "I have been an owner of an investment fund dedicated to women, and among the 200 people in a room, today as yesterday, very few women are present. As there are a lot of people and interesting projects, there is no reason that investors are looking to change their mentality and performances !"
Also, for the researcher, the solution is not so much in the commitment of investors to accept the paper more projects led by women in the implementation of an obligation to diversify the investment portfolio. "This obligation can only come from political actors," she says.
(1) Fackelmann, S., De Concini, A., & Dustdar, S. (2020). Why are women entrepreneurs missing out on funding?: Reflections and considerations. European Investment Bank
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(2) Balachandra, L. (2020). How gender biases drive venture capital decision-making: exploring the gender funding gap. Gender in Management: an International Journal.
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