Here’s a constructive addition to the “feminism in tech” issue – a sizeable collection of in-depth interviews of female founders, announced here by Jessica Livingston.
Some interesting extracts from the “Was being female either an advantage or disadvantage in working on your startup?” question:
I know that I care a lot of about nurturing people and making them feel how important they are through care and thoughtfulness, and so I have worked very hard on things like HR and diversity early on. I’m hesitant to attribute that to my gender, though my inclination to be more nurturing might start there.
One big benefit of being female is that a lot more women apply to work for us. I’ve been told it is a relief not to be the first woman on a team. We have 6 women other than myself, 2 of them are in engineering and I believe we will hire many more. Women are still less than 10% of the total applicant pool for technical jobs, even with this “advantage”.
Even a startup founded by a single female founder has trouble hiring women. No surprise that others also struggle.
It may be 2014 but people still make decisions with all sorts of biases, including gender and race.
There’s been a lot of speculation on how this affects fundraising. I’ve had both easy and tough times with this. It’s really hard to tease out if being female was part of it. I do think as your business gets really hot, if it did matter, it starts to matter much less.
Being female, I think I’m more cognizant of creating a work environment that’s inviting to all sorts of people. Homejoy certainly abides by the no-asshole policy and we’ve avoided the whole arrogant, bro-ish culture that Silicon Valley unfortunately has gotten to be known for. Part of new employee orientation is to clean at least one home, and so that probably self-filters out these types of people.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t have to deal with sexism or racism. While there’s movement to weed out these bad, mostly low tier players, it’ll be a while before all players get over their own subtle biases. However, it’s not something you, as a female entrepreneur building a company right this moment, can control and you certainly shouldn’t use this as a crutch or excuse for failure. If you have a great idea and work really, really hard, you will find good investors and good partners to work with. Together we can build a quorum, smash all biases once and for all, and prove that female founders can build and run great companies.
I have a tendency to see everything through an optimistic lens, so I like to believe that being a young driven woman may have actually helped me in the YC interview process. It certainly helped me stand out. It continues to help me stand out when hiring, closing deals, and fundraising.
I’d like to add this TEDx talk from my wife and cofounder, Paulina Sygulska, to the discussion: