Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men

A few years back I was judging a pitch competition at a prestigious university. As was often the case, I was the token woman on the judging panel.

About ten teams pitched in the competition. Two of the teams pitched a similar idea. One idea was pitched by a tall, traditionally handsome young man and the other was pitched by a short young woman who was average looking. Both of their ideas were good but hers was backed by more scientific evidence than his, so I rated her pitch slightly higher.

However, I was shocked to see that my male colleagues on the judging panel had rated the guy’s pitch at the top of the ten competitors and the woman’s pitch at the very bottom. I knew that what was happening here was not a one-up instance of unconscious bias. See journal article:

Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men

So during our deliberations, I fought for her. And I won. And she won. Had I not been there, she may have been derailed from the path she was destined to be on. And deserved to be on. Since then, I have seen her pitch and win competitions, prestigious grants, and more. It’s a joy to witness.