Solve the “Woman Problem” by Ending Your Stereotypes of Women

What is this? Mad Men?

What is this? Mad Men?

Penelope Trunk wrote another ridiculously egregious article yesterday on VentureBeat about the “Woman Problem” in tech startups. She’s written similar posts on Techcrunch before:

Women Don’t Want to Run Tech Startups Because They’d Rather Have Children

Why Diversity is Bad for Startups

I’ve always wholeheartedly disagreed with her remarks about women in technology, but she’s continued to push her views as guest posts on several of the blogs I read. I’m actually surprised VentureBeat and Techcrunch have published her posts considering her rampant generalizations of women in tech, but unfortunately I think they find it intriguing because she’s a woman herself. Thankfully, for the women who push themselves each day as founders or early startup employees, she is utterly wrong.

Her first assumption is “If diversity was really a problem, VCs would be solving it”

As Charles Hudson, a venture partner at SoftTechVC said yesterday on BloombergTV, investors feel safer making inherently risky bets on entrepreneurs who remind them of themselves. When the vast majority of venture firms are led by men, that’s where the money is going. Despite this, women are getting funded more often than ever before. They’re founding profitable companies which will have or have had successful exits.

She goes on to state that “Women don’t want to do startups because women want children”. She says startups are risky, require more time and women just don’t care about things like that.

Men want children just as much as women want children. This doesn’t seem to affect their career choices. As women are having children later and later in life, they have the opportunity to spend their twenties founding a startup. Even when they have children, if they have a partner who is willing to parent equally, they have the opportunity to spend their time founding a startup. Startups do require more time and risk, but women are just as free to take these chances. As more women are getting funding, the risk decreases as they can have a normal salary, benefits and many of the securities of working for a larger company.

She states that women in their twenties outearn men, so surely they can do whatever they want in their careers. Startups just aren’t for them.

Women often hit a glass ceiling in their late twenties/early thirties that their male peers don’t seem to hit. This, and not children alone, contributes to women leaving the workforce entirely or only working part time. When women don’t feel they are rewarded for their hard work – they leave. This is a problem that can and should be fixed. It is not a problem that is caused by women not caring about the work they do.

Trunk gives three ideas for what can be done to increase the  number of women who do startups.

1) Give them more money. Women like nice clothes and a house.

Women don’t need any more money than their male peers. They need security, which is a concern for many founders and employees. This isn’t an equation that can be solved by money alone – it’s a feeling that can be fostered by mentorship and a strategic vision.

2) VCs need to accept that women are slower than men.

This is egregious. Men can found companies and be attentive fathers and husbands. This does not change for women. When both women and men should accept that both parents must give equally to their children, you’ll see many more female founders. This has absolutely nothing to do with VCs.

3) VCs should raise funds with the idea that their portfolio companies started by women will be slower.

Good luck with that. How about a VC firm tells their LPs that they’re going to invest in the most talented teams – and we all accept that those are teams started by men and women. Let’s not tell them that the teams are any different – because they’re not.

In writing this, I can only hope that Trunk begins to stop stereotyping women based on her own choices and insecurities. Even though I sincerely doubt that will happen, I hope blogs will stop giving her a platform for her misogynistic views of her own gender.

For more, follow me on Twitter.

Lo importante es el camino que recorremos, las metas son apenas el resultado de ese recorrido. Llegar generalmente significa, volver a empezar!

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Gabriel Catalano

marzo 2012
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