more on the woman thing

Images 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. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Geekette

    Articles like this make me wish I was in NYC so I could meet & tell you AMEN in person!Meanwhile, I’ll just keep yelling “I rule”! ūüėČ

    1. Gotham Gal

      and you do…

  2. BB

    Keep ‘Em coming, these are great. The impostor thing totally resonates – ugh.I was at a conference this week listening to some women talk about the pathetic state of corporate boardrooms – something we are all aware of, but this fact actually made me nearly fall out of my chair: URBN, parent company of Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie has ZERO diversity on it’s Board. No minorities, no women. A bunch of white dudes presiding over brands that in some cases cater only to women. How is that possible? To make matters worse, the company actually opposed a shareholder resolution to change that fact.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I have not read the nicest things about the group below. They aren’texactly warm to other religions either.The corporate boards that are publicly traded is a whole other ball game.Women are nowhere. Then again maybe that makes us smarter. Who would wantto be on one? Huge liability, really no involvement growing the company,you do get some money and perhaps stock and of course play many golf gameswith the big boys but would any of us want that?The only way that will change is if women stop buying from corporations likeURBN. I read something terrible about them years ago which was confirmedthrough many articles and so I stopped giving them my money. My ownpersonal crusade but if it was a mass of women who ceased to stop buyingfrom any of their retail stores, now that would change the ratio!

  3. Tereza

    First of all, tough to read a post when you put a pic of such cute babies there. ¬†AWWWWW.Next, re: tooting horns. ¬†Funny story.I’ve read that women don’t. ¬†But also that men have a hard time when we do toot our horns.A few weeks ago, I got some presentation coaching from a VC in prep for an on-stage event. ¬†There was kind of designation I got a short while ago (it was a Forbes thing) and when we were talking about my Bio I asked the guy, “Should I include that?” ¬†He said, Definitely! ¬†But you have to say it like this: ¬†“Not to toot my own horn, but…(blah blah blah)”I said, “Wait. ¬†Do you really want me to say, ‘Not to toot my own horn, but…?'”He said, “Yes. ¬†For sure. That’s how you need to say it.”.A week later, I get on stage. ¬†I give the preso. ¬†I say “Not to toot my own horn, but…”After the preso, one of our fab women in tech comes up to me, saying: ¬†“Awesome presentation! ¬†Except for ONE THING. ¬†Why did you say “Not to toot my own horn”!?!?!I said — “Um…..a guy told me to say that?!?”Net net, I still don’t know what to say. ¬†ūüôā

  4. BB

    Wow what a bunch of creeps. There’s also the story of them ripping off folks on Etsy. I have no problem boycotting, though I’m afraid I never consumed much of their crap anyway.

  5. Carma

    stopping by to congratulate you on the Yahoo! finance/WSJ article on your family’s tech habits. I’m a blogger too http://carmasez.com , in the middle of a mid-life career change – more like, mid-life hope to get a career change. ¬†A big part of my consideration has been to aim for a career that won’t leave me frazzled and where I will be able to maintain that balance you speak of especially since I have a teenager at home who still enjoys my company and advice at times ūüėČ

  6. Sharon

    Great post and love the discussion unfolding in this space. ¬†Personally– as a working mother– I relate to everything you say… and professionally (and a way to find the path for my own success– since I had no role models or mentors) I interviewed over 50 women in senior positions in Technology or Financial services– trying to find the “profile” of the “outliers’–In other words, of those women in the C-suite, the ones who made it there and stay there— what were the factors of their success? ¬†And desire to want it, and resiliency were 2 key variables. (If you are interested, I can send you the profile.)¬†¬†I also work with organizations who want to increase the number of women in very senior roles. More and more it is clear that you have to include men in the conversation. ¬†and some brave companies are beginning to do this– particularly in India. ¬†Of interest, India has the highest number of women CEO’s in financial ¬†services. And I agree with you– we ¬†have to look at the path for women’s advancement in a multi-dimensional way– it includes what I call “the internal glass ceiling”-where feeling like a fraud comes into play, coupled with organizational/systemic changes that need to take place; And– knowing how to manage the “perception” and the vulnerability that comes with visibility as a woman, particularly if you are an “only” or a “1st.” ¬†Incidentally, women managing women or being managed by women does not necessarily lead to advancement either– because there is this whole social thing that happens that is hard for women to talk about—and that is women to women competition.(Im talking about large organizations here– not necessarily in the start-up world) — anyway– I could go on and on– But was inspired to add to the exciting conversation happening here– you are such a great writer in your ability to take complex ideas and distill them into concise, authentic posts — —that I and, so many can relate to…. thanks so much. ¬†Sharon

    1. Gotham Gal

      i’d love to see your interviews!

  7. Jael

    Funny. I must be a real trend setter, because I went back to school (I am going back to school) in my early thirties to complete a science degree. This is after giving birth to six children (YES! all with the same man!) I am a geology student and my interests are not at all limited to your typical baby fare. In fact, the rudimentary things of life stem from inside the earth: our most foundational needs– water, energy, food, revolve around the geologic makeup of our planet. The women who want to change this dynamic are already here. The men just need to give way and hear us out. We need time to consider how to attend to revolutionizing the needs of humanity without disrupting natures physics.

    1. Gotham Gal

      that has been proven that is the men hear, things change.

  8. Susan

    Sharon I would like to see the profile you mentioned.¬† I am 60 I am a serial entrepreneur.I had built three business together and because I did not have the advantages of “The good old boys” I could not refinance my package( something that would have been easily done if I was a man.¬†I ran dry of money and had to close everything.¬† It is so clear that the inside golf group keep each other alive and growning.¬† I have been left alone in the hallway more than once while they all walk into the mens room.Susan Lewis http://www.beyondbelieflife.com

  9. Lisa

    Hi Joanne – great couple of posts on women – cuz we rule! As a 50 yr old woman launching an ‘expert technology’¬†software/service to the prestige skincare industry,¬†I am fortunate that most of the Presidents, Sr. V.P’s of Marketing, Education + Sales that¬†I am¬†pitching to are women. While these execs ‘get it’ from a freaking PPT – enough to¬†ask us to meet with them¬†ASAP¬†–¬†the next VC that says to me ”can’t you JUST make a consumer app for that + put it on the web?’….I’m going to slap¬†HIM!¬†

  10. guest

    *theresorry but spelling/grammar are important

  11. Rdsmith925

    “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.”Proven?¬† Huh?¬† Every case, some cases, certain particular chosen cases. Correlation vs. causation?¬† Yuck

    1. Gotham Gal

      Reading the latest articles in the past few months says that all signs pointto that.

  12. Lisa

    Rdsmith925: Case in point:’High Performance Entrepreneurs: Women in High Tech’ 2/1/2010 – ongoing research by Stanford University;”Diversity Improves Performance: Organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35% higher ROE and 34% better total return to shareholders versus their peers ‚Äď and research shows gender diversity to be particularly valuable where innovation is key.”http://www.illuminate.com/w…

    1. Gotham Gal

      nice Lisa. thank you!

  13. Steven

    It’s true on the corporate ladder as it is in rock and roll. Although there are exceptions, for the most part the boys are in the band on stage and the girls are dancing and being adoring (or whatever that thing is the girls are doing when they think the guy in the t shirt playing bass is someone he is not when he is off stage). It’s inescapable in boardrooms, classrooms and at the talkhouse on any given night. ¬†Change the women or change rock and roll? I have no clue. ¬†

    1. Gotham Gal

      Ur analogy is hilarious

  14. ShanaC

    How about we need to start teaching everyone about how to create balance?

    1. Gotham Gal

      Nice one