What signals matter for social startups? It depends: The influence of gender role congruity on social impact accelerator selection decisions

Social impact accelerators (SIAs) seek to select startups with the potential to generate financial returns and social impact. Through the lenses of signaling theory and gender role congruity theory, we examine 2324 social startups that applied to 123 SIAs globally in 2016 and 2017 and find that SIAs are more likely to accept startups that signal their economic and social credibility. Moreover, while we find that the influence of these signals is strongest when they are congruent with the stereotypes associated with the lead founder’s gender, men seem to experience better outcomes from gender incongruity than women.

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