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The gender gap in federal and private support for entrepreneurship


The role of gender in entrepreneurship has been thoroughly investigated. However, less is known about gender differences in access to private investment when attempting to develop a new technology. In this paper, we use data collected by the National Research Council of the National Academies to estimate differences between the probability that a female-owned firm and a male-owned firm, both conducting research funded by the Small Business Innovation Research program, will receive private investment funding to help to commercialize the funded technology. We find that female-owned firms are disadvantaged in their access to private investment, especially in the West and Northeast regions of the USA.

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  1. The NRC database is arguably the most complete source of publicly supported innovative behavior in small, technology-based firms in the USA. For a detailed discussion of the NRC database and of the SBIR program, see Link and Scott (2010, 2012).

  2. These are five largest agencies with SBIR programs. Collectively, they account for over 97 % of all SBIR awards.

  3. See Wessner (2008) for more detail about the NRC’s sampling procedure. Selection is not an econometric problem (Link and Scott 2010, 2012). Nevertheless, we did control for selection in the models presented in Table 2, and we rejected that selection was present. Our selection model controlled for the time since receiving the award and the amount of the award.

  4. See

  5. Beginning with Chinitz (1961), and following by, for example, Audretsch et al. (2006), Frisch and Schroeter (2011), and Glaeser et al. (2015), the establishment of large-scale industries inhibits the development of an entrepreneurial culture. We approximate this effect through regional binary controls.

  6. Relatedly, see Goel et al. (2015).

  7. These predicted probabilities are weighted averages over funding agency, Age, and the Nascent indicator.


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This research was funded through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. We also thank Samantha Bradley and Lydia Hassell for their research assistance on this study. See Bradley et al. (2013).

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Correspondence to Albert N. Link.

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Gicheva, D., Link, A.N. The gender gap in federal and private support for entrepreneurship. Small Bus Econ 45, 729–733 (2015).

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  • Private investments
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Gender
  • Technology
  • Innovation

JEL Classifications

  • L26
  • O31
  • O38