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Melissa Cardon

Research Findings

How startup diversity debt becomes self-reinforcing?

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December 1, 2022

Why are women less interested than men in applying for startup jobs? In a new article published in the Academy of Management Journal, we uncover an essential piece to this puzzle: Women are less interested in applying for startups when fewer women are already employed in these startups. Confused already? Let’s take a few steps back and try to explain this catch-22 situation.

Diversity debt

Women are underrepresented among entrepreneurs and their investors, but also among “joiners” – the distinct group of people who are attracted to employment in startups but have little desire to become founders.

When startups scale their workforce, they often accrue “diversity debt”– an initially skewed gender composition that demands costly and often unsuccessful attempts to remedy gender disparities as the organization grows. 

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