A new study finds that women can benefit from making innovation claims, especially in male-typed contexts like technology.
By Sarah Steimer
Male entrepreneurs have traditionally had the upper hand over their female counterparts when it comes to fundraising for their ventures. But a new study published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal digs into why and when this isn’t the case in one particular context: rewards-based crowdfunding.
A 2017 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that female entrepreneurs on nine leading crowdfunding platforms — such as Kickstarter — succeeded at a 32% higher rate in acquiring funding than men. A research team that included Benedikt David Christian Seigner and Hana Milanov of Technical University of Munich, Germany, along with Aaron F. McKenny of Indiana University, wanted to learn more.
Extant research remained inconclusive on the results of making innovation claims, with some studies showing no or even negative effects. This ambiguous valence of innovation claims in the case of crowdfunding can be better informed through the lens of Expectancy Violations Theory (EVT). The theory suggests that the interpretation of counterstereotypical behaviors of ambiguous valence is determined by the attitudes towards individuals engaging in this behavior — not by the interpretation of the behavior itself.
Using EVT as a framework for the study, the authors found that in rewards-based crowdfunding, female entrepreneurs can actually profit from using more innovation language, especially when launching campaigns in male-typed categories like technology. This implies that women may even have more freedom to resist traditional gender stereotypes in the case of reward-based crowdfunding.
“Our study represents an important contribution to our understanding of gender dynamics in rewards-based crowdfunding,” Seigner says. “While prior work demonstrated that women can count on backer activism when fundraising in male-typed categories, our study further empowers women in maneuvering such gendered category stereotypes. It shows that women can leverage their preferred status in this crowdfunding and employ counterstereotypical campaign language to work to their advantage.”
Seigner B. D. C., Milanov H., & A. F. McKenny (2022). Who can claim innovation and benefit from it? Gender and expectancy violations in reward-based crowdfunding. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/sej.1426.
Sarah Steimer is a Chicago-based writer and editor with experience in magazines, newspapers and multimedia projects. She has covered subject matter that spans local news, marketing, medicine, food and more.