Stop Telling Women Not To Do Startups

Ever want to punch a blog post in the face? Well, that’s how I feel every time I see a headline that attempts to crystallize some universal truth about iffy “in tech” topics like women in tech, African Americans in tech, teens in tech, etc.

Because nothing says link bait like “taking on a controversial topic” stupidly, using gross generalizations. The latest in this series is a post by Penelope Trunk, who is either a master at extrapolation or seems to have seriously conflated the word “women” with “Penelope Trunk.” I remember being a young TechCruncher reading her first post, “Women Don’t Want To Run Startups Because They’d Rather Have Children” and thinking, “Wow, this seems deliberate.”

The sad part is that Trunk, who lives in Wisconsin, seems to have never talked to any other women ever. “Women are not complaining about the lack of VC funding in the world.” Ha. Oh yes they are, all the time, to me.

And if you have such a problem with women founding startups, why have you founded, like, three? All this might slide if Trunk’s ideas weren’t given such a wide reach.

Here’s what’s wrong, in a nutshell:

“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.”

Dear males who have hiring power; I am a woman who is super-committed to a career “doing” startups. And whether that means writing about them or a being a founder, no one can legitimately argue that it doesn’t take up a majority of your time. No, I’m not planning to have a baby any time soon, but if I were I’d find a way to take care of business so to speak. Because I am driven, so please don’t discount me based on gender.

And here’s a piece of advice to women (or any other minority) in tech — Every time you get worked up over a dumb blog post, you’re wasting time that you could have spent building a world-changing company, writing your own blog post and/or proving pundits like Penelope Trunk wrong. And that starts with voting with your feet (or pen even).

So go, prove her wrong. Because a) This needs to stop b) The future depends on it.

Image: Dori Smith