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Investors Don't Ask Women Founders the Same Questions as Men. Here's Why That's a Problem

Investors Don't Ask Women Founders the Same Questions as Men. Here's Why That's a Problem
Inc.
By Kimberly Weisul
Published: May 9, 2018

I was recently a judge in a business plan competition called UPitchNJ, held this year at New Jersey's Montclair State University. I wish I'd had a conversation with Dana Kanze beforehand.

Kanze, now a doctoral fellow at Columbia Business School, was once an entrepreneur. When she and her male co-founder tried to raise money for their mobile tech company at TechCrunch Disrupt, they got very different questions from potential investors. Even though the two had similar titles, went to the same school, and both had 10 years of experience in finance.

Kanze was mainly asked questions about what could possibly go wrong. (She now terms these "prevention" questions.) Her male co-founder, she says, was more likely to get the questions about how fabulous everything could possibly be--a category Kanze now refers to as "promotion" questions.

Kanze's current research, recently published in the Academy of Management Journal, digs into the relationships between the questions entrepreneurs are asked and the funding they get. Kanze says her findings indicate that if women were asked the same questions as men, they'd be equally successful in raising money.

 

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