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They are the biotech equivalent of the “missing girls” in countries with a skewed gender ratio: 40 to 50 companies that would have been spun out of research at MIT labs headed by women were it not for …

That’s the multibillion-dollar question: Why don’t women biologists found biotech companies at the same rate as men? For the last year, three prominent Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have been collecting statistics, questioning venture capital partners, and meeting with leaders in academia, science, and business to find answers.

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  • I own a Biotech business and I have a patent for a medical device. For an entire DECADE, I sought unsuccessfully for investors. I had them say things like, “You’ll never get investors simply because you’re a female.” “If you allow a man to be the CEO, I’ll invest.” “You’re cute, but I just don’t think women are as good as men when it comes to leading businesses.”. I could write a novel. Regardless, now many of them are basking in their regret as one of my devices just hit the market.

  • If it is more difficult for female founders to receive funding, then the average female founder that receives funding is higher quality than the average male founder that receives funding. As a result I would expect a higher rate of success for female founders that actually receive funding than male founders that receive funding. Is this the case?

    • Eric- I think that quality of the investor is an important key to success. There is a wide range of funders, from experienced VCs to, well, flakier ones. Women or men who have a difficult time getting money often have to fall back on less supportive or more demanding investors, and that does have a negative effect on success.

    • Jeanne- that’s a great point. In that case I think you could account for that by controlling for the investor. Ie. Female founders funded by Investor X have a higher rate of success than Male founders funded by Investor X.

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