Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School


First Advisor

Stephen Ciccone


Prior literature related to gender and risk propensity would suggest that females are risk-averse, compassionate, and value ethics over return. This ideology of traditional gender norms stereotypically implies that females may be more likely to engage in ethical investing, as there is inherently less risk in investing in companies with strong corporate social responsibility. On the other hand, males are often portrayed as risk-seeking, competitively motivated, and valuing profits over principle, thus may be more willing to compromise ethics if the ends justify the means. The following paper seeks to investigate this relationship between gender and ethical investing, as examined by a study of business students. Respondents were randomly distributed a survey with either an environmental scandal, a personal ethical scandal, or no scandal at all and were prompted to select a portfolio of four stocks with the various financial and ethical positions. The study results contradicted the hypothesis that female students were more likely to respond to the ethical scenario and revealed that it was the males who were more responsive. The study also indicated that the participants were more concerned about environmental scandals than personal ethical scandals, such as an embezzlement incident. The results most likely represent a shift in dynamics where Millennials and Generation Z are generally more socially conscious than prior generations of investors.