Gender, Race and Entrepreneurship


A review of the economics of discrimination with a focus on the unique ways it manifests itself in firm formation and financing decisions. The presentation will cover the recent advances in testing alternative explanations for differential treatment by race and propose a framework for future research in the area.

Lecturer: Michael Ewens (Caltech)

Date: August 24th, 2020


What is "discrimination"? Bertrand and Duflo (2017, pp. 1)

[M]embers of a minority group (women, Blacks, Muslims, immigrants, etc.) are treated differentially (less favorably) than members of a majority group with otherwise identical characteristics in similar circumstances.

Why do we want to study discrimination? Marianne Bertrand (2020, pp. 1) writes:

"There is a fairness and justice argument that tells us that women should share the same set of opportunities as men. There is also an efficiency argument: [models show that] greater gender equality in labor market access can improve economic growth. All of these models start from the premise than men and women share at birth similar distributions of labor-market-relevant talent. Starting from that premise, it is obvious that any barrier to women’s entry into the labor market, or into some specific occupations, will be distortive to economic outcomes."

Suggested Readings (bold recommended)

Akee, Randall, Maggie R. Jones, and Sonya R. Porter. "Race matters: Income shares, income inequality, and income mobility for all US races." Demography 56.3 (2019): 999-1021.

Alesina, Alberto F., Francesca Lotti, and Paolo Emilio Mistrulli. “Do Women Pay More For Credit? Evidence from Italy.” Journal of the European Economic Association 11 (2013): 45–66.

Altonji, Joseph G., and Rebecca M. Blank. “Chapter 48 Race and Gender in the Labor Market.” In Handbook of Labor Economics, 3:3143–3259. Elsevier, 1999.

Becker, Gary S. The Economics of Discrimination. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Bertrand, Marianne. “Gender in the Twenty-First Century.” AEA Papers and Proceedings 110 (May 1, 2020): 1–24.

Bertrand, Marianne, Dolly Chugh, and Sendhil Mullainathan. “Implicit Discrimination.” American Economic Review 95, no. 2 (April 1, 2005): 94–98.

Bertrand, Marianne, and Sendhil Mullainathan. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” THE AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW 94, no. 4 (2004): 104.

Blanchflower, David G., Phillip B. Levine, and David J. Zimmerman. “Discrimination in the Small-Business Credit Market.” The Review of Economics and Statistics 85, no. 4 (November 1, 2003): 930–43.

Bohren, J. Aislinn, Kareem Haggag, Alex Imas, and Devin G Pope. “Inaccurate Statistical Discrimination: An Identification Problem.” Working Paper. Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2019.

Bohren, J. Aislinn, Alex Imas, and Michael Rosenberg. “The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence.” American Economic Review 109, no. 10 (October 2019): 3395–3436.

Bordalo, Pedro, Katherine Coffman, Nicola Gennaioli, and Andrei Shleifer. “Stereotypes.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 131, no. 4 (November 1, 2016): 1753–94.

Brenøe, Anne. “Origins of Gender Norms: Sibling Gender Composition and Women’s Choice of Occupation and Partner,” July 1, 2018.

Brooks, A. W., L. Huang, S. W. Kearney, and F. E. Murray. “Investors Prefer Entrepreneurial Ventures Pitched by Attractive Men.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, no. 12 (March 25, 2014): 4427–31.

Core, Fabrizio. “Maternity Risk and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship,” January 13, 2020.

Egan, Mark L, Gregor Matvos, and Amit Seru. “When Harry Fired Sally: The Double Standard in Punishing Misconduct.” Working Paper. Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2017.

Evans, David S., and Boyan Jovanovic. “An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints.” Journal of Political Economy 97, no. 4 (August 1, 1989): 808–27.

Ewens, Michael, and Richard R. Townsend. “Are Early Stage Investors Biased against Women?” Journal of Financial Economics 135, no. 3 (March 1, 2020): 653–77.

Fairlie, Robert W., and Alicia M. Robb. “Why Are Black‐Owned Businesses Less Successful than White‐Owned Businesses? The Role of Families, Inheritances, and Business Human Capital.” Journal of Labor Economics 25, no. 2 (April 1, 2007): 289–323.

Fairlie, Robert W., and Alicia M. Robb. Race and Entrepreneurial Success: Black-, Asian-, and White-Owned Businesses in the United States. The MIT Press, 2008.

Goldin, Claudia. “A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter.” American Economic Review 104, no. 4 (April 2014): 1091–1119.

Gompers, Paul A, and Sophie Q Wang. “Diversity in Innovation.” Working Paper. Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, January 2017.

Gompers, Paul A., Vladimir Mukharlyamov, Emily Weisburst, and Yuhai Xuan. “Gender Gaps in Venture Capital Performance.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, July 7, 2020.

Gornall, Will, and Ilya A. Strebulaev. “Gender, Race, and Entrepreneurship: A Randomized Field Experiment on Venture Capitalists and Angels.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, March 31, 2020.

Gottlieb, Joshua D, Richard R Townsend, and Ting Xu. “Does Career Risk Inhibit Potential Entrepreneurs?,” n.d., 87.

Giuliano, Paola. “Gender and Culture.” Working Paper. Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2020.

Guzman, Jorge, and Aleksandra (Olenka) Kacperczyk. “Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship.” Research Policy 48, no. 7 (2019): 1666–80.

Hebert, Camille. “Gender Stereotypes and Entrepreneur Financing,” March 20, 2020.

Howell, Sabrina T., and Ramana Nanda. “Networking Frictions in Venture Capital, and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship.” Harvard Business School Working Papers, Harvard Business School Working Papers, October 2019.

Hu, Allen, and Song Ma. “Human Interactions and Financial Investment: A Video-Based Approach by Allen Hu, Song Ma :: SSRN.” Accessed August 22, 2020.

Miric, Milan, and Pai-Ling Yin. “Population-Level Evidence of the Gender Gap in Technology Entrepreneurship,” n.d., 37.

Morse, Adair, and Karen Pence. “Technological Innovation and Discrimination in Household Finance” n.d., 28.

Neumark, David. “Detecting Discrimination in Audit and Correspondence Studies.” Journal of Human Resources 47, no. 4 (October 2, 2012): 1128–57.

Raina, Sahil. “VCs, Founders, and the Performance Gender Gap.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, December 10, 2019.

Roussille, Nina. “The Central Role of the Ask Gap in Gender Pay Inequality,” n.d., 67.

Small, Mario L., and Devah Pager. “Sociological Perspectives on Racial Discrimination.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 34, no. 2 (May 2020): 49–67.

Tinsley, Catherine H., and Robin J. Ely. “What Most People Get Wrong About Men and Women.” Harvard Business Review, May 1, 2018.

Zandberg, Jonathan. “Family Comes First: Reproductive Health and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship,” December 17, 2019.

Popular Data Sources

  • Kauffman Firm Survey

    • The Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) is a panel study of 4,928 businesses founded in 2004 and tracked over their early years of operation, through 2011. The survey focuses on the nature of new business formation activity; characteristics of the strategy, offerings, and employment patterns of new businesses; the nature of the financial and organizational arrangements of these businesses; and the characteristics of their founders.

  • American Business Survey

    • The ABS is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, and provides annual data on select economic and demographic characteristics of employer businesses.

  • OpenCorporates

    • Incorporation data. Information on newly-formed firms across the world.