Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Entrepreneuship & Innovation: the language used to describe male and female is different

Professors of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Luleå University of Technology and Hanken School of Economics in Sweden recorded venture capitalists (VC's) conversations and analyzed how differently they talk about female entrepreneurs when evaluating investment proposals.

The language they use to describe the entrepreneurs plays an important but often hidden role in shaping who is awarded funding and why. 

From the experiment, one major thing stuck out: the language used to describe male and female entrepreneurs was radically different. And these differences have very real consequences for those seeking funding — and for society in general.

More broadly, this research (find more on HBR May 2017 issue)suggests that stereotyping through language underpins the image of a man as a true entrepreneur while undermining the image of a woman as the same. Such stereotyping will inevitably influence the distribution of financing, but could also have other major consequences.

Because the purpose of government VC's is to use tax money to stimulate growth and value creation for society as a whole, gender bias presents the risk that the money isn’t being invested in businesses that have the highest potential. This isn’t only damaging for women entrepreneurs; it’s potentially damaging for society as a whole.