Women Entrepreneurs

There is gender bias in the startup sector. Anyone who believes otherwise has their head in the sand. And yet there are vast numbers of women entrepreneurs out there. The Gotham Gal has been profiling one a week on her blog (Women Entrepreneur Mondays) for five years and never has a shortage of women entrepreneurs to profile. So the truth is women are starting companies every day and participating in the startup sector. But it isn’t easy to be a women entrepreneur and they face a set of challenges that is unique to their situation.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and a former Google executive, surveyed a bunch of successful women entrepreneurs and penned a post with all that she learned from that work. It’s a good read and full of stats about the differences between men and women entrepreneurs. It also has a great list of actions we can all take at the end to make things a bit easier for women in startup land.

Through the work of women, like Sukhinder and Sheryl Sandberg, and my favorite – The Gotham Gal – women are making their voices heard in startup land and things are changing for the better. But there is still a lot of work to be done and Sukhinder’s list is a good place to start if you want to help make a difference on this issue.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Yup very true.With one toe in the $2T wellness market, I see an enormous community of women entrepreneurs who are leading this. Truly awesome group.But–I also see traditional funding communities for startups honestly not working to capitalize this community. Alternative networks outside traditional seed and VC are growing faster than the changes within traditional capital sources.Maybe it’s partially the type of businesses, mostly non tech, maybe not as there are now resources like Circle Up.The only solution obviously is to eradicate this gap.We do in our own lives and in how we hire. It’s overdue time from the capital side as well. I do it from my perspective a bit at a time, every day.

    1. fredwilson

      I wonder if platforms like CircleUp will benefit from the gender bias in VC

      1. awaldstein

        Initially yes but at its core, CU appears as a vertical investment tool for many tech individuals in the consumer side of the world.I don’t think it carries as part of its structure that change. i don’t have the data to see who is funding what of course, but my hunch is not.But–if they wanted to they could. I would as this community is looking for inclusion, quite powerful and platform homeless. Maybe that is their call to greatness if they can embrace it.

        1. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

          one of the things you are both pointing to are ‘consumer products’ businesses and ecom businesses. there are a lot of women who start companies in these sectors too yet they are not often thought of as “platform” companies .thus I think they face “business model” biases from a number of traditional VCs. nuance that is important as its not about gender bias in some of these cases as shying away from whole sub sectors unless they are very well networked already with the entrepreneur previously and betting soley on their relationship with that person outside of a category with which they are comfortable

          1. awaldstein

            I agree and well said.What I love about the Wellness sector is that while predominantly the entrepreneurs are women led, there is nothing gender or model specific bout the success of Soul Cycle or BluePrint or a huge number of rock star gyms and the like.One other item that ties to this.Early on I participated in a bunch of friends companies rounds on Plum Alley. While i loved the focus on women’s entrepreneurs I was never comfortable that they understood that the audience, the investors, were everyone not just women. That was the power of their idea that felt missing.I went and contributed and felt like an outsider. I trust they have ameliorated that.

          2. Meredith

            in ecom or business that generate cash – lenders like Kabbage and Bond Street are really going to change things – at least they have for my business

  2. JimHirshfield

    Great post and something that I hope motivates my teenage daughter.

    1. JamesHRH

      I hope your daughter figures out who she is early, starts down a path towards something that really fits her and then gets enough positive feedback to stoke the fire.That’s all anyone can ask for, I have decided.

      1. JimHirshfield

        I hope so. Thanks!

  3. William Mougayar

    The list of women tech entrepreneurs/ founders that Sukhinder put together is amazing:https://medium.com/@sukhind…+1 for Sukhinder. I met her once at an event in Toronto. (She is Canadian)

    1. awaldstein

      Yup, I see a few of my personal mentors there. I was super fortunate to have worked with some of the earliest tech women entrepreneurs.One of my first partner deals at CREAF was with Heidi Roizen.

      1. LE

        She was really in the first wave back in the early 80’s with Tmaker. I remember that very well.

        1. awaldstein

          Yes she was working with her mom I believe. We are still friends.BTW–the marketing and sales genius at an executive level behind EA, Broderbund, Interplay, Maxis and Lucas Games, Infogrammes Europe (all my accounts) were all women, all quite exceptional.

          1. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

            Heidi was one of my first role models as well when I started in the valley. thrilled to have her not only on the list but she was a co-signer

          2. Matt Zagaja

            Based on how skilled they were at getting me to part with my money (or my relatives) I’ll have to agree.

          3. awaldstein

            Some brilliant people.Some on the branding side like my friend who build the Simm City Brand for Maxis from the ground up, some on the sales side like another who basically reinvented OEM for the industry at Interplay.During that time I built the developer relations org, recruited 3000 developers, invented the trial game and wrote the very large checks to these people to bundle their products.

    2. JimHirshfield

      Canadians rule, eh?

      1. JamesHRH

        F*@kin’ eh Jim!

        1. pointsnfigures

          Buy her a Molson.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Well you’re all awfully nice. At least the ones I’ve met.

    3. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

      proudly canadian. from st. catharines ontario

  4. Mario Cantin

    Out of her long essay, this is the paragraph I find the most important as it highlights the issue while keeping it in perspective at the same time:”We have not been exempt from gender bias or worse in our careers; it has simply not been the defining factor in our journey as entrepreneurs. Like all entrepreneurs, multiple other forces have influenced our ability to build our own companies.”

    1. JamesHRH

      She is pretty lucky if that is true. Fred has documented the bias that LPs placed on him, post-Flatiron.

      1. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

        hey james – my point is not that gender discrimination is not a big issue. it absolutely is. it is that these signals in terms of the entire entrepreneurship journey are not the ones dominating the perspective of the women who’ve gone through them. they are still bulls on tech and starting companies which says something about the number of signals in the journey of starting a company

        1. JamesHRH

          At a point, it just blends in, is my point too.

          1. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

            got it. thx

  5. JamesHRH

    I read Sukhinder’s post and then asked my wife (who leads a 1400 person operating unit of a public traded energy company, for those who are not regulars) ‘You don’t deal with this stuff, do you? You never talk about it.’Her response was that she doesn’t bring it up because we tend to only discuss the unusual or interesting aspects of our working days, not the irritating stuff that happens every day.Oops.Which explains why she has, over the course of her career, volunteered to lead courses that advise young women starting out in the energy sector, on these issues.In her last role, she lead a challenging situation in a small centre. Everyone in town knew what was going on at the refinery she was leading. Women frequently came up to me and asked how she was doing or handling the stress. I was waiting for someone to add ‘the poor dear’.My standard response was ‘she is fine, leading people through change is what she was put on this planet to do. You should be asking me how I am doing.’Its pretty simple human nature – people struggle to believe that other people are happy living lives that are different from the life they chose.Hopefully, that is the trend that society can buck – appreciating that we all get to go around the track in our own way.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Well said, James.

    2. PhilipSugar

      I agree the most powerful thing to me is when I ask and then hear very specific descriptions of incidents.I have asked the same question. Many times I would get a general answer like people treat my aggressiveness differently, but just like when you are interviewing you have to peel back that onion, and get really specific details.Every time the person was to recount very specifically. That certainly is not the case when I am interviewing people.

    3. Joe Cardillo

      The beginner’s mind really helps doesn’t it….our own internal confirmation bias tends to obscure larger problems when we aren’t experiencing it directly (even if someone we care about is).

    4. William Mougayar

      Interesting, this makes me realize what a great (and progressive) company HP used to be when I was there in the 80’s til mid 90’s. I don’t recall the gender issue being an issue then. There were so many great women leaders and contributors at any levels, including one of my last managers.

      1. Twain Twain

        Maybe it wasn’t an issue or as visible because the number of women doing STEM only dropped after late-90s. Also, your HP managers must have benefited from their education in the 1970s and 80s?It would be really useful to discover why female students turned away from STEM from late-90s and 2000s onwards to cause the pipeline shortfall that concerns the tech sector.It would also be helpful to know how many of those STEM women from 1980s and 1990s encourage their daughters to go into STEM careers.

        1. William Mougayar

          yes, it’s possible that the trend went in cycles. but this wasn’t just for engineering/tech jobs; women were in leadership/management jobs throughout.

          1. Twain Twain

            CNet has had a series of great articles recently examining the issue of why women aren’t even in the leadership/management jobs not just the engineering ones. The excuse is often given by investors that “Women didn’t study STEM subjects” or in Paul Graham’s serious faux pas “Women haven’t been coding since they were teenagers.”Notably, not studying STEM has not held back men in tech and isn’t given as an excuse for why they shouldn’t be given the chance to lead and realize their potential —“John Chambers, a lawyer by training, is about to retire as head of networking gear maker Cisco Systems, a company so geeky its tech speak may make your eyes cross. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner got his degree in economics, as did Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of ride-sharing service Lyft. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff studied business administration. Prominent tech investor Ron Conway, who was an early investor in Google and PayPal, earned his undergraduate degree in political science. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a college dropout.”* http://www.cnet.com/news/wo…So women SHOULD also be in management, dispersed throughout the company the way you experienced it in the HP of 1980s and 1990s, instead of the diversity data the SV companies shared recently.

        2. panterosa,

          One leaky STEM pipeline fix – Girls Play with STEAMhttp://bit.ly/STEAM4girls

  6. Linnea Passaler

    I wonder if there’s any data on european women founders. Just posted the same question on Sukhinder’s post on Medium. It would be really inspiring. I feel here in Europe we have similar problems, just even less acknowledged.

    1. William Mougayar

      Why don’t you start that list Linnea?

      1. sukhinder

        you can add to the list here if you would like. sorry I should have added the link.http://bit.ly/1JHPD9e

      2. Linnea Passaler

        I might, yes πŸ™‚

    2. sukhinder singh

      hey guys – thanks for all the comments on the piece and fred’s post. i don’t have much eurpoean women coverage on the list but it is an open list, where women can be added / or add their own data. I wanted to “seed” it the list and get it started as a signal in the hopes people would add to it

      1. Linnea Passaler

        Thanks !

  7. Donna Brewington White

    I don’t know that there has ever been a better time to be a woman.

    1. Tom Labus

      Yes, indeed

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Completely true πŸ™‚

    3. Rachael

      Though it is ironic that while tech created new industries with lower barriers to entry for women leadership, it has also made it economically viable to exploit many women via adult entertainment.

    4. panterosa,

      Or, @donnawhite:disqus, make female entrepreneur friends!

    5. leigh

      The 1920’s – somewhere in my head I”m thinking the 1920’s would have been a blast πŸ˜‰

  8. Matt Zagaja

    1. I should be reading GG’s blog more. Love the top post in your link.2. Have you been listening to the Startup podcast? S2 Episode 3 on fundraising was incredible and also disturbing:https://soundcloud.com/hear

  9. Donna Brewington White

    This struck me as profoundly true:Men have played an important role as professional mentors for most of us. Some 37 percent of us would cite our biggest professional mentor as male, while 16 percent would cite women, and 47 percent would credit both genders equally.I’m not a tech entrepreneur but I’m in the startup space and experiencing much of what women in tech experience. Women’s words and women’s examples have been greatly influential to me in my own entrepreneurial journey. I am incredibly grateful. But whether I like it or not, championing by men has been what has most catapulted me in my career. (I do like this, BTW.)If you are a man with influence, you have a great opportunity to help pave the way for some woman’s contributions.And, why? Because, there are products that will change history that are waiting for a woman to invent them. There are huge world problems that will be solved by a female brain. When I tweeted something along these lines recently a guy tweeted back reminding me that male dominated companies have been very successful, Apple as a case in point. Not knocking this. Nothing against what men contribute — thank you!But we are wired differently and this is a really, really good thing, not only to embrace, but to actively promote.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Agree. Also, get over the way it looks when you see a 40-50 something man sitting at a bar with a 20 something woman. They aren’t dating. There is mentoring going on.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        If you say so, Jeff. πŸ™‚

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        If you ever see me with a 20-something fella at the bar, feel free to draw your own conclusions πŸ˜‰

        1. pointsnfigures

          Joking aside, when I saw Sheryl Sandberg speak she made that exact point. Societal conventions cause us to see that interaction and think that it’s a man trying to date a younger woman. Or, man with a paid accomplice. Or at the last, man with daughter if they favor each other. In some cases, men deliberately don’t mentor women for fear of being called out. Double standard.But cougars can mentor younger men : )

          1. awaldstein

            As a rule, I almost never meet at bars with women for work one on one.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Could you expand on why?

          3. awaldstein

            There are of course exceptions (with many in this community btw) but as a rule it is a my personal view that it keeps things where I am more comfortable with.I traveled for ever. I like my life and my family and my work. We all have rules that we create to keep these things together. This is mine.

          4. Twain Twain

            I’m with you on this one, Arnold.I never meet a guy at a bar on a one-to-one-basis if work is being discussed. Find a coffee shop, a co-working space, other neutral public grounds.

          5. LE

            I think anyone who is under the influence of alcohol is at a disadvantage in a negotiating situation, but perhaps at an advantage when creativity or social comfort is involved.

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Wise man, Arnold. I have a similar policy. But then it occurred to me that we both made the exception a couple of times that we met and I never thought a thing of it. Probably because you are the quintessential gentleman, and also meeting you for wine is like meeting someone else for coffee.

          7. awaldstein

            Not sure about my wisdom or about being a gentlemen but after a long time building companies and teams, I have my personal guidelines which work.As far as you go, we are friends. Completely different category and an important one!Wine bars–this is where I’m at home along with the boardroom.

          8. LE

            I would never do that as well. To me it’s just not appropriate. Also, not speaking for Arnold here but being raised Jewish we tend to have a different view of alcohol consumption than non jews. At least where and when I was raised.

          9. Matt Zagaja

            I don’t understand people meeting at bars for work at all it violates the world’s theory. If I’m at the bar then work mode is off. The world needs sacred spaces.

          10. awaldstein

            unless you are in the wine and spirits world where your product gets drunk and taste happens during discussions of cost.when i was having a place where they don’t care about corkage and glad to have you uncork something is exactly what you need.

          11. mike

            100% agree

      3. Matt Kruza

        This. Also this with a 20 something man with a 20 something woman. The conventions assuming men are only after sex is damaging for all sides involved. While it might not be mentoring (although sometimes it is with peers), peers from a non-work specific engagement are much more complicated between a man and a woman. Have had a talented woman who I was advising to network more say, “oh, I assume they are just hitting on me”. Now, I get that sometimes men will be hitting on the women, but its just as possible for a woman to be doing that on the man and regardless its bullshit to assume one way or another.

      4. Twain Twain

        Agree that people need to get over their misconceptions.I was in my 20s when I met a very successful 60-something entrepreneur who knew a banker I knew. We stayed in touch, became friends over years of business lunches and now we mentor each other about tech. His platform just reached its 1 million signups milestone so I’m super-happy for him.The weirdest looks we get when we’re at lunch, though.On the other side of it, one of my team is a 21 year-old guy and another is 26 so as CEO I’m mentoring them both.

      5. LE

        That is what I call “by definition”. “By definition” relates to what is perceived and generally accepted, rather than what really is.It’s the reason you can touch a women on the shoulder but not on the breast. By definition you can’t do that. Not accepted in society to be off by a few inches. Not rational just the way that it is. (Not talking about anything other than a touch here). Many things are like that.So “by definition” an older man meeting with a younger woman or actually even a very attractive women of the same age is going to be perceived a certain way. Imagine a long car trip? Or sharing a hotel room? By definition simply going to be a problem.Otoh if the woman is old or obese by definition not perceived the same way and not a problem.This is really occam’s razor.among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected

      6. mike

        Are you married?

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I think he’s pretty happy.

      7. Anne Libby

        Very true! And I had some fantastic men as mentors. My Bliss McCrumb was a former Marine, proud grunt.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      “There are huge world problems that will be solved by a female brain. When I tweeted something along these lines recently I was reminded of all the good done by a particular male dominated company.”But what about the men! LOL πŸ™‚

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Kristen, I edited to say: When I tweeted something along these lines recently a guy tweeted back reminding me that male dominated companies have been very successful, Apple as a case in point.

    3. Twain Twain

      Wondering if Fred & AVC folks are aware world’s first solar house, Kevlar and submarine telescope were all invented and monetized by…WOMEN:* http://mentalfloss.com/arti…So all the male investors out there should get out their own comfort zones and go and source and fund this generation’s female technology innovators and their $ billion potential.

      1. LE

        My personal feeling is that it’s not good branding for a disadvantaged group to talk about what they have done as some kind of justification of value. “An african american invented the stop light” …For example if you go to any shit small town they will tell you who was born there. Well you don’t find that in NYC do you? (Or with US as a country..) They don’t have to brag because there are so many accomplished people that live or were born there it doesn’t even have to be mentioned. Likewise for alumni of certain schools. Harvard doesn’t have to brag because it’s already known that they are well respected.The best way to begin to be accepted as “legitimate” is to stop approaching things are being “less than equal and having to prove yourself”. That’s just my personal opinion. Better to just try to act and be an equal than to have to give examples of why you think you are to be taken seriously. Mary Barra is running GM speaks far better.My advice would be different though for companies trying to market themselves or for any given individual (talking about their specific accomplishments..) In that case “brag until you make it” type hyperbole is valuable.Who can forget the early days of the Internet where people would list their vendors as “our partners”. Making you think that that had actually significant business relationships with Cisco and Microsoft (as two examples) just because they bought some of their products? Was always funny to me.

        1. Twain Twain

          Ok so I’ve earned my skills and whatever successes I’ve had purely BY MERIT, teamwork and hard graft.That, and what I hope your daughter will be lucky enough to benefit from in her Wall Street experiences: an amazing mentor who will publicly credit her when she deserves it, be tough but constructive on her in areas she needs to improve on and fair by dispatching her onto technical training courses that will tool her to do her job even better and be promoted.So I hear your underlying point about meritocracy from “not good branding for a disadvantaged group to talk about what they have done as some kind of justification of value”.I highlight the inventions of women because Megan Smith, CTO of the United States, mentioned this on the Charlie Rose show in April: “How women are erased out of tech history”https://www.youtube.com/wat…

  10. Nidhi Mevada

    Startup journey makes women entrepreneurs “Gender Blind” ! And they speak like men, i.e Marissa Mayer, Elizabeth holmes …etc

  11. pointsnfigures

    What I like about her post is that she doesn’t ask for quotas or mandates. The way forward is to build great businesses. Time will also change things as more women enter entrepreneurial circles. It’s inevitable, because the way people are interacting with “work” is changing and will be 180 degrees different in the next ten years.

  12. Kirsten Lambertsen

    For those interested in funding female founders, crowd-funding is a great place to look. One female-focused crowd-funding operation is Plum Alley (http://plumalley.com) . But you will find a lot of female-led startups on Kickstarter.Here’s an opportunity to fund a fantastic female-led startup whose mission is to get girls interested in STEM via programmable jewelry https://quire.com/c/jewelbotsFor anyone interested in improving the tech/startup climate for women, it really boils down to a simple action: listen to women.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared my experience of what it’s like to be a woman in tech startups, only to be told that my perception of my own experience is wrong. I think this comes from a place of wanting to ‘solve the problem’. Being not-a-woman doesn’t mean you are responsible for solving the problem on the spot πŸ™‚ Just listen.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Just listen. A painful discipline.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Interestingly, Twitter makes it easy. Just don’t hit “Reply”! Twitter is pretty amazing for educating yourself about other people’s experiences. I am practicing listening to people of color and transgender people these days (oh, and other women).

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Been consciously working to add more women voices into my twitter feed over the past couple months. It’s not simple because I like to keep my follows low and also I want people that talk about topics I’m interested in and not merely the meta issue of women in technology, etc. (honestly I am not a fan of controversy and drama) so usually I end up knocking out some men from my follows when I do this.So far some of my favorites I’ve added are @casidoo, @sarajchipps, and @DanielleSucher (she’s a lawyer/programmer so bonus on that). Also @wbm312 (another lawyer/CS person, I really do have a niche).

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            “It’s not simple because I like to keep my follows low…” Lists are the answer to this problem.Here’s a list I’m partial to ;)https://twitter.com/JoyceMS…But, just look for lists that those people you mentioned either created or are members of and then follow the list. TweetDeck is pretty handy for being able to bounce around in your Twitter “silos.”

          2. Joe Cardillo

            Here’s mine, it’s only one interpretation but it’s done a lot of good things for my brain: https://twitter.com/joecard

          3. Joe Cardillo

            Yep been doing the same for a couple of years now. What’s it been like for your mindset so far? Any changes?

    2. Joe Cardillo

      Probably breaking the rule here! But worth saying, listening is a start….understanding is second (and tends to come from good listening), third is helping women entrepreneurs access resources (material and otherwise). And the hidden piece is that if you have some advantages, be willing to give them up, to put someone else first, and to believe them when they tell you what they need. All of which you mostly covered and is complemented byBrad Feld’s philosophy of give before you get. Saying it here because many men entrepreneurs who are well intentioned tend to dive right in with their own ideas of how to help, instead of starting with the listening piece.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yep – “mansplaining” is often well-intentioned πŸ™‚ The reason I emphasize listening so much is that as women we often feel we get stuck in a place of justifying our description of our experience and never beyond it. So by simply not perpetuating that cycle, just listening is great.

        1. Joe Cardillo

          Yep totally agree. Starting from any other place is silly.

        2. Stephen Voris

          I wonder how much of that “mansplaining” is a holdover from how men get asked for advice – I know I have the impulse to brainstorm solutions to pretty much any problem presented to me (regardless of whether or not it’s asked for), but I don’t know that I do this particularly differently for women than men. On the other hand, that’s a sample size of one. Well, okay, maybe a little people-watching from the occasional forum, too. But the plural of anecdote, et cetera et cetera. Hence the ‘wonder’.

          1. Joe Cardillo

            I’ll take a go at that. It’s hard to separate culture from biology, but regardless of the root cause there is definitely some truth to thing where men go straight to problem solving / don’t listen in the same way as women.I think the important distinction is: if you want to help and support women you have to start by understanding that they don’t have the experience that men do, and that some of the shittier experiences aren’t things we can actually solve for them. But we can hear and listen and provide support for them to make whatever decisions they need to (and yes, sometimes will include decisions we think are wrong).What I suspect Kirsten is pointing at is that one of the problems IS that women aren’t listened to or believed to be worth listening to (and I can tell you that’s accurate from working in tech for the last several years). So the problem solve in that case is just to listen. And yeah I have my days where I have to remind myself “Oh right, this may be a moment where listening is the most powerful thing I can do.”

    3. meredithcollinzzz

      There’s also the Women Who Tech Startup Challenge happening right now, which is a partnership between Fred, the Gotham Gal, Craig Newmark & Women Who Tech! The challenge at the moment is crowdfunding and their are over 180 awesome women-led companies competing.You can check out & support all the companies here (Shameless plug – mine is called Hookist!) https://www.crowdrise.com/W

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Thank you for sharing that one, Meredith! Hookist is really cool πŸ™‚

        1. meredithcollinzzz

          Thanks so much, Kirsten!

      2. Twain Twain

        Love what Women Who Tech Challenge is doing. I dialed in to listen to Susan Lynch of BBG Ventures (Built By Girls) about how they’re going to invest in female-led startups.That’s going to start giving data points and ROIs that will make male investors in SV realize how FAR BEHIND THE CURVE they are and how NY leads them on this issue, :*).

        1. meredithcollinzzz

          Yes! You are so right! They’ve already found that women-led tech startups have 35% higher ROI and generate 12% higher revenue. And they bring in 20% more with 50% less invested! Here’s Craig Newmark’s post about this info and the competition in The Huffington Post… http://www.huffingtonpost.c…And check out all the great women-led companies in the competition when you have a chance (can you tell I am excited to be a part of it? ;~) https://www.crowdrise.com/W

    4. Yinka!

      Listening is so key. Few things are as infuriating as a closed mind pretending to take part in conversation.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yes, and I’ve found that being the listener comes with a ton of upside.

    5. Alex Wolf

      Representing Plum Alley here as a first crowdfunder when they opened!Jewelbots look fun.

  13. laurie kalmanson

    thank youfor the mad men fans: sally grew up as her mother’s generation hammered at the doorsrelated: poor women have always worked

  14. Twain Twain

    Sukhinder Singh Cassidy’s piece on Medium is inspired and inspiring. It made a positive difference after reading, exactly as she’s noted, a succession of articles by well-meaning, highly educated journalists who kept highlighting “The pipeline problem” and “Why women are leaving tech in droves” but who themselves don’t actually work on the front lines and at the coal-face of tech.As I told Hadi Partovi of Code.Org who’s doing fantastic work giving opportunities to both genders to learn how to code, I went through the pipeline and have been into tech since childhood. I have a STEM degree (maths) and have succeeded in the most male-dominated industries (chemical, startups and banking) and I THINK OF LEAVING TECH EVERY SINGLE DAY.Now, if someone like me (an irrational super-optimist) can think that, imagine how awful the experience is for girls and women younger than me who haven’t yet grown thick enough skin and confidence to stay in tech.I stay because I know the systems I INVENT, DESIGN & CODE can change the game for women in tech.The other day, on the Survata post, another commentator (ex EVP of Marketing at Gartner, I discovered) scolded me for “going off on a rant” about the inadequacies of surveying technologies and 5-star rating systems. Then 2 days later, my REASONING — not rant — was vindicated because the UK Polling Council announced an inquiry into why and how the UK pollsters got it completely wrong and now they’re all looking into the biases inherent in survey methods that have been with us since the 1920s and 1930s when surveying and ratings first emerged as market tools.In any case, everyone will notice on Sukinder Singh Cassidy’s post a number of graphics showing word clouds of terms associated with “male” vs “female” attributes from a survey they took of women working in tech.It’s similar to something which Google Ventures did in Sept 2014 to understand the biases of why women aren’t being invested in — in startups and in executive roles in big companies.Now….in the graphics I’m attaching:(1.) Unilever Dove’s market researchers surveyed women by making them walk through one of two doors “beautiful” and “average”.And we can see the other legacy binary ways the surveying systems work — which carry inherent biases that I’ll explain when my system launches.(2.) Google Ventures survey on the perception biases of how people assess what makes a good manager.One of the ways the tech sector changes anything is by…GETTING THE DATA TO PROVE A THESIS & CONTINUOUS TESTING ON THAT THESIS.One of the best things about my STEM education is that in mathematics, we understand the importance of constructing a hypothesis or framework from “first principles” and then building the tools to collect the data to prove / disprove our hypothesis.I had a hypothesis a few years ago that legacy surveying systems (with their binary and 5-star ratings), probability & statistical methods and non-intuitive user interaction are fundamentally broken because they can’t measure the subjective biases in our intelligence.This impacts on:* Inclusion in Technology* Economics models since this is based on flawed market research methodologies* Machine Intelligence because our natural language is inherently subjective and biased and legacy probability & statistical methods aren’t adequate for dealing with subjectivity or bias of this type.SO I INVENTED AND BUILT A SYSTEM.Then maybe we won’t be in a vicious cycle where in 20 years time my daughter (I’m not married and don’t have kids yet) comes to me and says, “Mummy, why didn’t you MAKE A SYSTEM TO CHANGE the broken one? So much has already been written and said about it for decades already!”I’ll be able to look her in the eyes and say, “I went through hell and back several times to invent and build this system for you and your generation. And now, you roll up your sleeves and get coding and make a better system too. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it because of their own myopia and ignorance.”

    1. Chimpwithcans

      And here i thought Twain was a man. πŸ™‚

      1. Twain Twain

        Bankers twice my age thought I was a man and the same age as them by the way I write. I’d send very detailed technical emails.Then we’d arrange a face-to-face meeting.I’d enter the room and they thought I was there to pour the coffee / was the PA / intern who’d just finished high school.My manager would enter the room and say, “So you’ve met Twain then. She wrote all the documents we’re discussing in this meeting.”Literally, you could see the other bankers do a double-take and fall off their chairs.Lol.

        1. LE

          When doing stealth activities I’ve exploited that principle. Essentially choosing a man or a women’s name [1] in order to take advantage of the opposite sex’s tendency to act differently depending on who they think they are dealing with and the conclusions that they will jump to. It really does work. There is a noticeable difference in behavior. I’ve never gone as far as using actual sig pictures but if I wanted to step it up a notch I could do that.[1] And the women’s name matters. (Younger and/or sexier sounding as only one example).

          1. William Mougayar

            i knew you had a mischevious streak, LE πŸ™‚

          2. LE

            Was a big fan of the original “Mission Impossible” with Peter Graves.

          3. Twain Twain

            I do the same except differently. People meet me and their perception is, “She looks too girlie and sweet to be interested in tech and finance.”So sometimes I play along.

          4. LE

            I use a similar delta in appearance vs. substance to my advantage frequently. I landed my first deal in the 80’s wearing dungarees and a down vest and beat out Xerox trained salesman (professional high end equipment). The contrast principle is what did it. Essentially people “don’t pay you no never mind” and aren’t expecting much because they judge on appearance. Then when you open your mouth and do things they are impressed with what happens it isn’t what they are expecting. I’ve typically found this to be the case and have exploited it often. One of the reasons I never wear a suit and always a tshirt and dungarees (from back before it was fashionable to do so).So my point is that the “girlie” thing and perception is an advantage not a disadvantage because of the contrast principle.Funny thing at a condo board meeting there was a “little old lady” who was an owner (she rented to her son who was a plastic surgeon). Then she started to open her mouth and say things. I realized that she was actually a quite impressive woman. By the end of the meeting I was pressing her to take an open board seat (hard to find people for this job). So it didn’t matter that I jumped to my conclusion “little old lady” in the end she didn’t have to try hard to make me think differently of her.

          5. JamesHRH

            I have a friend who is 5’11” blonde and was a swimmer.She followed here father into his agri-business. She told me once that it took 3 full trips through the annual cycle of negotiations (they owned a stockyard, lots of commodity pit style deals) before the men on the other side of the table realized that she was whispering advice in her Dad’s ear (not Dad explaining what was going on).Men actually told her that it was really nice of her Dad to show her what he did at work (she had an Ag Econ degree & eventually left the family business to start her own enterprise).The big reveal is always the best part of people being lazy about their preconceptions.

        2. Chimpwithcans

          Ha…that’s awesome. My wife has similar stories πŸ™‚

          1. Twain Twain

            It’s doubly funny because I also don’t look like I can code. I look like an art / English lit type (Bohemian).

        3. JamesHRH

          My accountant followed another professional into a meeting at a major law firm. The lead lawyer treated him like a junior, then was slightly patronizing when he got his facts straight and understood who he was.Accountant then proceeded to school lawyer on technical issues of what we were discussing.#CompetenceMattersMoreThanAnything

          1. Twain Twain

            Too true, James, and men are subjected to misperceptions and patronization too.Regardless of gender, ego is our worst enemy. Consideration our best friend.Here’s another Google Talk about perception biases, including as it affects men:* https://www.youtube.com/wat

  15. BillMcNeely

    so the co working space Nod Co Working I am associated with just bid farewell to Kinskii a female led business that helps kids 2-7 stay connected with parents on the road thought you would love the story http://launchdfw.com/tag/ki

  16. Twain Twain

    The Google Ventures video on how they’re trying to measure bias can be viewed here:* https://www.youtube.com/wat…I’m also aware that SurveyMonkey and WPP’s BAV unit signed a partnership agreement and rolled out a surveying system to measure perception biases that affect brand equity.It’s based on BAV Chairman’s work in his book ‘The Athena Doctrine’. I know this because I met him in NY at a Harvard Business School event and read his book AFTER I’d already invented my system for measuring biases which is very different from SurveyMonkey and BAV.I met both John and Dave Goldberg separately because of my system.

  17. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Oh, hey! Gotham Gal’s talking about a female-led solar power Kickstarter project that you can invest in todayhttp://gothamgal.com/2015/0…

  18. Twain Twain

    Here’s the Columbia Business School video of WPP BAV Chairman, John Gerzema, talking about gender biases they discovered in their research for ‘The Athena Doctrine’ and how the future of leadership will be FEMININE VALUES:* https://www.youtube.com/wat…The Survey Monkey-WPP BAV partnership applies some of John’s work on gender biases.

  19. MJC

    I worked with Sukhinder at Amazon in the 90’s (and recently talked to her on a flight), she’s very smart and pragmatic. Her success and keen views are no surprise to anyone who knows her.

  20. Chimpwithcans

    Greatest thing i ever did in this space was to marry a hustling, thinking, smarter, harder working, stronger, better person than me. She has changed my understanding of women and entrepreneurs fundamentally. For those not able to learn through marriage, this sort of work is absolutely vital to change HEAVILY entrenched views on women.

    1. Twain Twain

      Fred is lucky not because he’s a successful investor. He’s lucky he married a strong, smart partner who pushes and inspires him.And he’s smarter than 99% of guys because he publicly credits her all the time for those qualities.

      1. LE

        I’ve said this before but I remember my dad when I was growing up telling me about women like Joanne. He would say “she pushed him”. [1] My dad was always jealous of that. He always had to fight my mom because she didn’t like him taking any risks. He even had to hide some things from her. That is probably why he didn’t buy real estate in NYC in the 70’s when he had the chance.Fred realizes he is lucky but most likely since he doesn’t know anything different he doesn’t realize exactly how lucky he is.[1] Also, Yiddish word: “bren fire”:Bren(BREN) n. A person of great energy or charisma. A real firecracker or livewire. From brennen, to burn.

        1. Twain Twain

          Now I wish I was Jewish because their culture has some of the coolest and smartest words!My parents were the opposite to your parents; my Dad was laid-back, my mother is much more go-getting.I’m going to be much better suited to a smart, pushy, dynamic husband who will love all my Twainie-ness and keep me on my toes and moving forward, positively, in my development as a person.

  21. Twain Twain

    My personal belief is in diverse and inclusive teams and I put that into action. I don’t think “battle of the sexes” nonsense helps innovation and I happen to know the greatest innovation that’s led to leaps and bounds in evolution have involved men and women working, in synch, hand in hand.So these are the examples I provided to Startup Grind for an article they were interested in me writing. They’re not publishing it because they considered the article to be, overall, “very technical” for their audience. LOL because the criticism often leveled at women is that investors don’t think we can be technical.I wrote:”For inspiration, here are ten amazing products men and women invented that transformed our modern lives:* Computing = Ada Lovelace + Charles Babbage (1843)* Mapping the Universe and its stars = Henrietta Swan Leavitt + Charles Pickering+ colleagues (1910s)* Frequency-hopping system (aka Wi-Fi) = Hedy Lamarr + Georg Antheil (1942)* Scotchgard = Patsy Sherman + Samuel Smith (1952)* Compilers and COBOL programming language = Admiral Grace Hopper + malecolleagues (1960s)* CCTV security = Marie Van Brittan Brown + Albert Brown (1966)* Apollo 11 lunar landing algorithm = Margaret Hamilton + NASA colleagues (1969)* Smalltalk programming language (precursor to Objective-C) = Adele Goldberg +Alan Kay with others (1970s)* Neural stem cell isolation process = Dr. Ann Tsukamoto + male colleagues (1991)* Palm Pilot = Donna Dubinsky + Jeff Hawkins (1992)

    1. Alex Wolf

      We have some of these covered in the #STEAMyWomen we feature on Twitter @na2ure. I’ll see which women we are featuring next, and also add your female inventors which we don’t yet have. Thank you.PS I was asked to write something for Forbes on getting more women into entrepreneurship, and then told to dumb it down. Disappointing to be asked to write something at a level I wouldn’t bother to read myself.

    2. Stephen Voris

      On a more general note, the concept of the husband-and-wife team goes back a ways (in the modern vernacular: “they’re a thing” :P), and might help as a reminder that one doesn’t necessarily need to be in the top x% to start something – but it helps to have a second perspective.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Right, diversity. That’s the real goal. I was burdened for a particular client recently that had not one single man on the marketing team. In the search for a marketing director (reporting to a female VP Marketing), I did not intentionally seek out a man for the role, but it was gratifying to see a guy join the team.

  22. Val Tsanev

    I am convinced that women have a very different and in many cases much better perspective than men on understanding customer behavior. The decision making process of women seems to be driven much more by logic then by the sense of dominating and destroying competition, which many men based their decisions on and later on regret it. I can see how powerful the thinking of a woman can be just by interacting with my wife everyday.

  23. Twain Twain

    If any male investors need to understand why female founders will deliver a sizable global market to them that young, male founders can’t…Here’s Sheryl Sandberg in ‘Adweek’, July 2014:”Women control the vast majority of consumer spending in this country, yet when asked in a survey if advertisers understand them, 90 percent of women said no.”* http://www.adweek.com/news/…Would anyone like me to explain the mathematics of why and how legacy Advertising exchanges don’t understand women and this is why Facebook is a competitive threat to Google?Legacy Advertising exchanges and their algorithms are autistic. Women are emotional. FB conducts all manner of emotion & social-based experiments in its AB testing which taps into their higher female audience.Women are the fuel that drive the success of FB and Sheryl Sandberg clearly knows it.

    1. Rachael

      Advertisers don’t understand woman? I don’t buy it. I’ve worked in publishing for major content creators, this space has welcomed women for decades

      1. Twain Twain

        Advertising and publishing have welcomed women for decades.I think Sheryl Sandberg was making the point to differentiate how FB’s Atlas advertising platform is different from what’s been built by competitors.

      2. leigh

        Welcoming women and understanding people are two different things. Advertising is still a mass media, built for mass brands with a mass perspective. Interactive and networked media requires a different model and mindset.

  24. David Cole

    Related article and a good read on a remarkable individual, D. Applestone, and a transformative project: desktop manufacturing and personalized CNC Milling. The title tells it all: “How One Hardware Startup Solved Silicon Valley’s Woman Problem.”https://medium.com/backchan…Dig into the DNA on this project and one finds Saul Griffith’s Otherlabs group and several years of DARPA-funded work on advanced manufacturing (think FabLabs and the Center for Bits and Atoms) and a workforce readiness concern rendered as a security threat — recruits in remote low-tech theater with high-tech equipment, needing to know how to work on, repair and create their own equipment. When the military says this is an problem, you can be certain the issues are pervasive in the education system and pipeline generally.Thus the connection to STEM, gender, and the thruline in several of Fred’s posts on diversity, access, and coding as connected to the the education sector generally. This is a wonderful product and company — it’s enabling innovation on many levels.

  25. Alison Chace

    Awesome Fred! Shooting a video series of female founders/entrepreneurs who have received funding, offering up advice to those female founders still pounding the pavement. Shoot is next week, May 27th, near Union Square. Questions provided upfront. Text moi if you’re a female founder reading this, happen to be in that catagory and interested in being included. 917-821-8931

    1. LE

      I love the plug down to including the phone number. More people (women especially) should not worry so much about what people think and do similar things. Not that Fred would appreciate a blog full of this type of thing but that’s exactly my point.

  26. JoeK

    I did not know about the Women Entrepreneur Mondays blog – and so I just took a look at around 30 profiles. And the one thing that immediately stands out, is that the overwhelming majority are children of ‘successful’ parents – doctors, lawyers, bankers, millionaires, and in some cases (billionaires, or something very close to that).I grew up in the developing world, where it is the opposite – you have a very large number of women running their own businesses (typically sole entrepreneurships, in agriculture, retail or services), although almost none of them are businesses that can scale. The reality is, the majority of women pick careers that will put food on the table, and a roof over the heads of their family, without relying on the largesse of some patron. In Africa, and the women that run their own businesses do it because there is no alternative.We already have a very large representation of intelligent women in the life sciences, medicine, chemistry etc … all contributing to the fundamental innovation required to sustain American competitiveness going forward. Honestly, it would be a real pity to see them pivot to building businesses providing dating apps, with >90% probability of failure from onset, which is what a lot (not all admittedly) of the champions for female founders seem to be pushing for.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Life science is a tough job market these days from what I’ve heard from my peers. Sequester has really hurt NIH funding for lots of things and for-profit market isn’t amazing either. I think they’re just reacting to the market incentives.

  27. LE

    And yet there are vast numbers of women entrepreneurs out there. The Gotham Gal has been profiling one a week on her blog (Women Entrepreneur Mondays) for five yearsWith evergreen content like that, she should be syndicating those profiles so that they appear in general interest newspapers …

  28. panterosa,

    Female Entrepreneurs are the new black.

  29. Alex Wolf

    Yay Fred, @gothamgal,@sukhindersingh, and the list goes on.Those who listen to, support, mentor and fund the women in your lives are the evolved men and women who are practicing equality TODAY, as Sukhinder says. Make it today and every day, be ready to be called out if you’re not. Take an implicit bias test to check your own bias if you need to, knowing you can change your bias by changing your daily interactions. https://implicit.harvard.ed…Shout out to all my female founders here at AVC and beyond.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Cool link! Thank you πŸ™‚

      1. Alex Wolf

        My daughter’s school had her visit recently to speak. We had a great chat. I love her school for that!!

  30. leigh

    +1 ” If we want to progress the path of potential women founders, it is equally important to bring this perspective to the table.”

  31. Liat Mordechay Hertanu

    Important post. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Anne Libby

    Thanks, Fred and AVC community. Glad to come in late, and see the tone and level of today’s discussion.

  33. Twain Twain

    We should all get over the perception biases we have about women in tech and entrepreneurialism because the spectrum of women in technology actually goes something like this…* Kim Kardashian = licenses her brand to mobile game => game earns $43 million revenues in a quarter.* Jessica Alba, co-founder of Honest.com => $1 billion valuation(http://www.inc.com/magazine…* Ada Lovelace = world’s first programmer, mathematician, “Enchantress of Numbers” as Charles Babbage calls her* Angela Merkel = first female Chancellor of Germany, PhD Quantum Chemistry(Also add the late Baroness Thatcher = first female Prime Minister of the UK, first Prime Minister with a science degree (BSc. Chemistry)* Mary Meeker = “Queen of the Internet” VC, MBA Finance (Cornell)Women in tech are everything in-between these women in terms of how we look, the skills we have, how we solve problems, how we brand and communicate our values, how our startups will succeed and monetize etcetcetc.That’s me in the spectrum somewhere (photo taken in my 20s when I was a banker).I’m a maths grad and programmer like Ada Lovelace, worked in the chemical industry in lab research like Angela Merkel and Baroness Thatcher as a teen and in a big bank like Mary Meeker (albeit I was in strategic investments and PE rather than equity analysis).Believe me, I understand a lot about perceptions and the importance of diving deeper and not judging any book by its cover.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Great add πŸ™‚ I love it for so many reasons!

  34. Frenchie

    typo:”But it isn’t easy to be a women entrepreneur”Should be “woman”.

  35. intouchcrm

    Excellent post! We don’t talk enough about women in business and the unique challenges and setbacks they face. Thank you for sharing this story! http://www.intouchcrm.com/

  36. Adam Wolak

    Ha…that’s awesome. My wife has similar stories πŸ™‚ malaczarna.net.pl