December 23, 2011 / Careers, Leadership, Opportunity

Business Startups Don’t Mix with Womanly Urges…NOT!


Everyday I check the news for articles relating to women and the sciences or math.  I was intrigued by an article that came up in my search today called Women in Startups: Is There Room for Us and Our Mad Baby Fever?  The author, Elisa Gabbert, was describing the horrific messages issued forth to women and the abysmal assumptions made in another article that was posted at TechCrunch by guest author Penelope Trunk on December 11.  Ms. Trunk’s article was called Stop Telling Women to do Startups and the gist was that women don’t choose to start a business because their urges of having babies convinces them it would be a bad idea.  I laughed so hard at the absurdity of Ms. Trunk’s hypothesis that the coffee I was drinking came barreling out my nose!

Gabbert’s rebuttal led me to one by Laura Klein (of the blog “Users Know”) called STFU About What Women Want.   Klein understands that what Trunk states in her article ultimately hurts women who pursue their own startup or want to work for a startup and stated:

So, when a publication like TechCrunch spews some nonsense about what women want, it means that the next time I go into an interview with a male founder (and they are overwhelmingly male for some reason that I’m not going to address here, but that Penelope assures us has nothing to do with bias) who has read that nonsense, he may be thinking, consciously or subconsciously, “she doesn’t really want to work at this startup because she wants to have a baby.”

And frankly, that sucks for me and all the other women like me.

When I searched for other responses to Trunk’s article I found one from Women 2.0 from a Chilean business owner, Michelle Veronese (Co-Founder, Novelo), who just so happens to be a woman.  I loved this quote from Veronese’s piece:

I decided not to have children because my startup needs my complete attention, just like a child. But, if you want to try your hand at having “twins” – your startup AND a real baby, then more power to you. There are many women out there capable of both being a mother and raising a startup. Think of all the female lawyers, doctors, university professors and neurosurgeons who decided to do both.

And Veronese is correct, in highly demanding fields that are male-dominated young women have been and still can be successful!  Our own Amy Siskind (TNA President) has been lecturing to young women about working on Wall Street in her Girlfriend’s Guide to Making it on Wall Street about the same prejudices that young women face in the financial sector and how articles like Trunk’s exacerbate the misconceptions.

When I started my consulting business in Optics over a decade ago it was because I had the engineering ability to be successful and I had the support of my husband in sharing childrearing.  There were difficult times in my business where I thought that I wouldn’t see sleep again until my children were 18, but I survived and my business thrived.  My children see my strong work ethic first-hand as well as see how my husband and I work together as a team so that both our family and career aspirations are met.  Just because something is supposed to be difficult doesn’t make it impossible.  I believe that every woman can be successful in whatever venture she chooses, especially a new business venture.



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