Gender diversity at entrepreneurial frm IPOs: responding to changing societal norms


Recently, the lack of diversity in startup leadership has been criticized by public figures and institutional investors as a signal of inadequate governance. And yet, little is known about the historical changes in gender diversity in entrepreneurial firms. Using a unique database of the gender composition in all entrepreneur-ial firm IPOs from 1990 to 2020 in the USA, we examine these changes. The IPO is a particularly interesting moment in an entrepreneurial firm’s evolution, as governance evolves from a private firm directed by venture capitalists, with their beliefs about what a good management team is, into a public firm with owners who are institutional investors with potentially different goals and beliefs. Grounded in signaling theory, our expectation is that the changes in public investors’ view of proper governance will result in changes in the gender in personnel added immediately prior to the IPO and that IPO teams.

Donald Patton
Siri Terjesen
Publication date: 
January 15, 2024
Publication type: 
Working Paper