Company and Perceiver Characteristics Influencing Willingness To Invest In Female-Versus Male-Led Start-Up Companies In STEM and Non‐STEM Fields

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Given disparities in the number and success of female relative to male-led businesses, the current program of research tested whether gender-based company cues, employment sector (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] vs. non-STEM) and CEO gender lead to disparities in willingness to invest in start-up companies. Using both university (Study 1) and community samples from the United States (Study 2 A and 2B), we assessed intentions to invest in hypothetical STEM and non-STEM companies led by male and female CEOs with equivalent qualifications. In Study 1, university participants viewed STEM companies more favorably when the CEO was a man and viewed non-STEM companies more favorably when the CEO was a woman. Study 2 A additionally demonstrated that STEM companies are typified by agentic traits and non-STEM companies by communal traits underlying many gender stereotypes. Although the community sample (Study 2B) did not differ in perceptions of male and female CEOs in STEM companies, perceived communality for women-led non-STEM companies and perceived agency for women-led STEM companies elicited favorability. Demographic differences in the two samples may explain variation in results.

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Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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