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If you're an entrepreneur looking for funding it pays to be attractive – and male.

The research paper Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men, written by researchers at Harvard, Wharton School and MIT, found the gender and attractiveness of entrepreneurs have a significant effect on whether their business ventures will receive funding.

In several experiments, the researchers found a "profound and persistent preference [by potential investors] for entrepreneurial ventures pitched by men, particularly attractive men."

In the first study set in an entrepreneurial pitch competition, male entrepreneurs were 60 per cent more likely to achieve pitch success when compared with female ones. Among the men, being more attractive further increased the chances of success by 36 per cent, while no such effect was shown for women.

In the second experiment, participants heard pitches narrated by either a male or female entrepreneur and decided whether they would invest in the venture. The male pitch was overwhelmingly more likely to be funded over the female pitch: 70 per cent versus 30 per cent.

The clincher? Both the male and female pitches were identical.

Finally, when participants heard a pitch paired with the photo of an attractive male founder, they were much more likely to invest than when they were shown a not-so-attractive founder. Again, attractiveness had little influence for female entrepreneurs.

In Canada, several funds have launched to help women find ways around barriers to financing. SheEO is a Toronto-based group that runs a fund for women-led businesses, and Beehive Holdings and Pique Ventures seek out companies run by women in their portfolios.

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