more on the woman thing
Last week in the Science section of the NYTimes there is an article about the top women in the field of Science. No surprises, many of the issues that are discussed among them are discussed among many women in a variety of fields. There are two points that I think about, the first being that women have children ( unless there is some scientific breakthrough that is being kept under-wraps ) and that women toot their horn in a totally different way than men.
I sat on a panel a few weeks back at the NCWIT conference in NYC. The panel was about women in tech, should we change the women or should we change the system. Maybe the answer is a little bit of both. A very good friend of mine, who I find to be one of the smartest in the room, is in the midst of negotiating a huge contract for herself and she sent me a text saying that she might be over her head on this one and feels like an impostor. I texted her back that I felt like one every single day. She didn't believe me, but I promised her that was the case and she could confirm that by asking my therapist. A good chuckle for both of us but oh so true.
In the article about the top women Scientists, one of them tells the story of a man who is on a panel touting his findings and she realized that she was involved with the same exact project and certainly would not tout her findings like that. Women cross all their t's and dot all their i's before giving themselves a well needed pat on the back, men not so much. Perhaps getting women to stand up and say, I rule, is something that we need to work on more.
Let's get back to the babies. Someone asked me the other day if I am seeing women's business ideas that are seriously disruptive and huge. Most of the businesses that I see, that women start, are around areas that fill their needs. It isn't that they can't participate in any idea or conversation or business for that matter that are big ideas.
How do we change the industries? How do we get investors do look at their companies and ask the question, why isn't their more women here? We want to see a balanced gender ratio at the top because it is proven that companies that have both men and women at the top are more profitable, scale larger and are better environments to work in. If that isn't a reason to ask the question of why aren't their more women at the top I dont know what is.
As I said at the NCWIT panel, I do believe that the next generation is going to be more balanced as men take more of an equal role in the household. Where there are more opportunities for women to learn to write code in environments where they feel comfortable asking questions. Where there seems to be more of a respect for the desire to treat women as equals because this last generation was told that they can do anything they want.
Personally, I like investing in companies, led by women, that will hopefully become $30 or $50 million dollars companies because that creates many economies as well as the opportunity for women to find balance in their home life, a role model for their children and at the end of the day better community. Doesn't mean I don't get excited when I see something truly big.
Women, more than men, are the ones who stand back after having children and ask themsevles, what role do I want to play in my children's life. I was thrilled to read the article about the top Scientists in the NY Times because many women in that field drop out in the early 30's as the strains of that profession take them away from the home. These women figured out the balance. It certainly isn't easy but I do believe that it is getting easier. The opportunity to log in at home has changed that. The Internet is changing the way we live our lives and in turn changing the way we work.
Yet, at the end of the day, it is the women who are having the babies and feel a responsiblity to being a mother while balancing the identity of their own lives that are separate from their husbands or partners or children. Perhaps that is why many of the women entrepreneurs out there are not top on the radar but their are plenty out there who are creating companies around the most important thing, their families.