Evaluation of New Business Ideas: Do Gender Stereotypes Play a Role?1: JMI JMI

In recent years, researchers have given considerable attention to investigating the nature of new venture evaluation–the process through which ideas for potentially profitable new business ventures are assessed (Baron and Ensley, 2006; Chen et al., 2009). Research on evaluating new venture ideas has added greatly to understanding this aspect of the entrepreneurial process by providing evidence that new venture ideas often are assessed under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity in which clearly defined rules for making judgments and decisions are rarely found (Baron et al., 2006; Kickul et al., 2009). Thus, scholars posit and empirical evidence indicates that heuristics and biases can play a substantial role in new venture evaluations (Smith et al., 2009). The present study theorizes and tests the role of a particular source of bias–gender stereotypes–in evaluation of new business ideas. Gender has been described as an “institutionalized system of social practices” that helps construe the masculine and feminine as different in socially relevant ways (Ridgeway, 2001). It is culturally defined and transmitted through interactions between people, in mass media, and by popular discourse (Ahl, 2006). Widely-held beliefs about the characteristics and attributes associated with gender differences constitute gender stereotypes (Heilman, 2001), which serve as “pictures in the head” for individuals when making judgments and assessments (Ashmore and Del Boca, 1979: 225). Such stereotypes have been found to influence assessments of male- and female-typed jobs, such that the former are often evaluated higher and provided more wages than the latter (Cohen and Huffman, 2003; Karlin et al., 2002).

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