Small Business Economics

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 199–210 | Cite as

Leveraging entrepreneurship through private investments: does gender matter?



Using project data from a random sample of Phase II research awards from the National Institutes of Health SBIR program, we estimate the relative probability that woman-owned firms are able to attract private investments to fund the transition of the technology developed under the sponsorship of the SBIR program to an innovation to enter the market. We find that women-owned firms are as much as 16% points less likely to attract private investment dollars compared to male-owned firms, factors excluding the size of the SBIR award held constant. Women-owned firms that received larger awards performed substantially better. Although the SBIR program has a legislated directive to increase the participation of woman-owned firms in the program, our findings suggest that it might not be sufficient to overcome market perceptions about the profitability of such investments actually bringing a developed technology to market.


Innovation Entrepreneurship SBIR program Venture capital Gender discrimination 

JEL Classifications

O31 L26 J16 G11 



This paper has benefitted from the comments and suggestions of Steve Bendar, Barry Hirsch, Donald Siegel, Mike Wright, and anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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