should I have spent more time in the locker room or at the golf club?

Images-1Not so sure why but there have been a bunch of articles around the subject of the tech world being a mens club.  I am pretty sure that you will hear that it isn't just the tech world that is a mens club but it is a mans world in many different fields.  From a glance it might just appear to be that way in the tech world but there is absolutely a large group of women out there who you might not see at the local bar chilling at the end of the day or hanging at a tech meet-up because women network differently.

I recently sat down at two meetings with different women to talk about their companies where I happen to have a vested interest.  One woman did not grow up in this country.  She is an engineer by training and has grown up being one of the few women in the room so her attitude about fund raising and her accomplishments are very different than many women I come across.  The other woman has built a killer platform but her approach to fundraising is not so strong.  Unfortunately, it has to be so we are working on that. 

This week I also met a woman who had started a company and is about to go about getting funded.  She got a lot of kudos winning a contest and money came flowing through the door.  She chose not to take it quite yet because she wanted to make sure she had built a more solid product product before taking the cash.  Hate to say this but a man would never do that.  A man might even take a job writing code when he wasn't so sure he could but figured he could figure it out, a woman never would.  Not all women but most. 

Is it the locker room mentality that strips down all insecurities, pushes one forward to take it like a man, forces everyone to communicate with each other ( aka network ) regardless of actually enjoying their company but because they are on the same team, it is that swagger that happens when you play on a team and walk down the high school hallways, is it, is it, is it…honestly, who knows but there is certainly a combination of many things that separate the men from the boys and the women from the men.  Perhaps it is just innate. 

So do women become like men in order to get to the top of their fields?  Absolutely not.  What we should do is create communities that support each other and start doing business with each other, create opportunities to work with other women basically creating a secondary circle of the tech industry that becomes just as powerful and complex as the boys club.  Change has to come from outside not within. 

Most important is that women need to find answers and come backs for some of the unfortunate interactions that take place.  Be strong, be fierce and be tough.  Like raising money from someone who starts to hit on them or say how cute they are.  Come back with a sharp comeback or tell them to go fuck themselves and leave the room.  You wouldn't want their money anyway.  When more women start to take a stand when it comes to being respected for their brains in a professional setting more men will realize that it is not OK to behave like that. 

Kind of rambling here but I do believe that women have come a long way but we have farther to go.  Should we have spent more time in the locker room or learned how to play golf, not necessarily.  What we should do is create our own network, our own community, our own support system and make sure that our successes are out there everyday for the world to see. 



Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Sometimes a rant is the best way to express it.Well said.

  2. Rohan

    Hate to say this but a man would never do that. A man might even take a job writing code when he wasn’t so sure he could but figured he could figure it out, a woman never would. Not all women but most. —Disagree with the first assertion. I would add a ‘Not all men but most.’ just like you have for the women bit.(I’m not a fan of generalization.. even if I’m guilty of it an incredible amount. Isn’t it always easy to be the critic? :))

  3. Guest

    GG-  Have you seen this  I love what my friend Nick from Hacker School is doing.  I think a change in the culture is needed and we need more men like Nick who are empathetic to what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s world.  And we need more people like you who put their time and money where their mouth is and really take a stand for other women…not just talk about it.   After like the 10th thigh grab sometimes I wish we could just separate ourselves and have our own community, but I’m not sure that is the answer.  When I reach out to men for coffee/tea I get a yes 100% of the time.  Some men have helped me beyond measure as the result of this networking, some have just put their hands in places they shouldn’t be.  When I reach out to women for coffee/tea the response rate is much lower.  When I try to be real with other women about some of the difficulties that we DO face, I’m often met with blank stares.  It is hard really to break into any club, men or women and each come with separate challenges.  

    1. Gotham Gal

      there are definitely some amazing men out there who are helpful and supportive of more women. the ones that aren’t need to be put in their place. as for not enough women taking a meeting, that is unfortunate. if they are married with children, my guess if their lives are strapped for more time than most.

      1. Lisa Mogull

        Speaking as a “soccer mom” and founder I thank you for doing an excellent job of putting men in their place.   More importantly, thank you for putting your time and energy into helping women create networks.  I look forward to the day when gender isn’t an issue but it is now.Kelly, GG is right about why women don’t take as many casual meetings.  A very busy female VC/mom and I were discussing last week about how our lives are all about time management — that’s why we are so productive. 

      2. pixiedust8

        Yes, I think that is it. Not that (most) men don’t help with kids and housework/cooking, but in general, I think the burden still falls more on the woman. For example, my SIL is very successful but wants to get out of her job by a certain time for her kids, so she grinds away every second she is at work. She doesn’t even have time for an occasional lunch or coffee with her brother and I know she adores him.

  4. Sharon

    you said it!! However, I would add that women are not always the innocents. Women are highly competitive with each other (not all women, but ask any girl in high school what goes on-) and some of us don’t outgrow it. And, raising capital from men or women, is an art as well as a science.  I believe women can get better at it.  There are some who are excellent. I suspect it has to do with comfort in your skin being ambitious and competitive.  I always study people who are successful at something I want to get better at.   Its just a hunch–but Joanne– I bet if you went to a group of men to ask for money– you would not find a hand on your thigh or a gawk at your cleavage.  Why? because of how you behave, how you conduct yourself, your confidence. — and if they gawked– They would know enough to be subtle.   Also, the sexualization of the interaction is a game of dominance and power. Its a test. Men are doing it to men all the time…  Women need to learn they are just as good at playing to win too. — and have a good comeback or steadyness– I call it “returning the serve”  hitting back as good as you get– earning respect and staying in the game. And, if this does not work– don’t take $$ from them.  It will only go downhill from there.  Men chose who they take money from, so should women. 

    1. Gotham Gal

      raising money is definitely an art. you bring up some really good points here.

    2. Guest

      This is why I find it so incredibly hard to be a woman.  The unwanted advances are somehow the fault of the woman.  How she behaved, how she dressed, how she conducted herself, etc.  Women blame women.  Sad. 

      1. Sharon

        I feared what I said would be interpreted that way… Its not what  I meant.  Rather, I think women need to be smart… all this “stuff” goes on between women, and between women and men.  Its part of life.  Knowing how to recognize it, manage it, and manage yourself, is empowering.  When I was younger– and didn’t know how to manage myself professionally, I was not as effective as I am now.  I had to learn.  Its a skill. There are women who raise money very effectively. They learned how to do it.  Men too– learn. They too have scars and a story to tell.  Ask any woman working with women– about female competition. Its real. Its not blaming women.  Its knowing its there.  Obviously, not with all women.  I have to say I have found the women in the start-up community beyond generous and supportive.  But I’ve also had experiences where this is not the case.  When it happens, I try and step back and understand why.  What was me, what was them.. would I behave differently next time.  And sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes the answer is no. If no, I walk away. If yes, I ask for a second meeting, and ask for feedback.  This has been a very effective way that I have found to become better at selling my ideas.  Its always an interaction.  And competitive women have a lot to teach, if you can find a way to engage them. But it is also a painful process, I have to say.   

      2. laurie kalmanson

        that man who got robbed — what was he doing carrying a wallet?

  5. leeschneider

    Are people really crazy enough to put a hand where it doesn’t belong?  If so, what the hell is going through the mind of said person?  

    1. Gotham Gal

      good question but yes, they are.

  6. Barbara Tien

    Thank you.  A terrifically timely post.  I’ve been thinking about how much to look to the various new organizations springing up to support women entrepreneurs.  Your post not only answers that question with an enthusiastic “you-go-girl,” but also puts it in context.  The locker room is the perfect analog.While a tumblr that captures all of the inappropriate remarks from the well meaning would be fun… snappy comebacks might be more fun.  Anyone up for creating a meme?http://textsfromhillaryclin… is a good start.

    1. Gotham Gal

      love the hillary thing. i’m a fan.

  7. Havasta

    “She got a lot of kudos winning a contest and money came flowing through the door.  She chose not to take it quite yet because she wanted to make sure she had built a more solid product product before taking the cash.” Sounds noble but that is just giving competitors time to copy, and the copy is never as good as the original. But the copy is out there, and you’re not. Moral of the story, just do it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      you got it. just do it.

  8. PMarchetti

    Yes!!!  I’d also encourage women to be bold and ask for the intro, favor, connection, etc.    I attend media and green networking events and conferences in New York and across the country.  I’ve offered to many,many women that if I can help them with their business… they should look at my LinkedIn connections and ask for my help. Only 1 woman in 2 years has taken me up on that offer and I am no slacker in the connections department.  Many men have asked and I’ve helped them.  I wish that women were always as confident as the men I’ve met and would stop worrying if they come off as overbearing or arrogant when they ask for what they want and stand up for their dignity, company, etc.   Time to stop downplaying our strengths out of modesty and grab the brass ring.  

    1. Gotham Gal

      I love that….grab away.

  9. The Gal's Got Game

    Thanks for this post, Gotham Gal. The fact that there are high-potential women out there not taking the bull by the horn even moreso necessitates that we form the support system. I do believe that we do have to learn to navigate in a man’s world (just like the engineer did).  We may not have access to the locker room… but we should at least know just enough sports to be part of the conversation. **wink**

    1. Gotham Gal


  10. Ruth BT

    Thanks GG, I love this and anytime you want to “rant” go right ahead! Personally I have discovered that trying to be one of the boys is a slippery path to nowhere. Mentoring younger women I often bring up the analogy “Be like water”, use your very powerful feminine energy to flow and be centered but like water cut through where you want to go. I agree that creating alternate networks is the way to go and often times men prefer your networks to the traditional ones!

  11. Ella

    Well said dear. We’re grateful for your words of wisdom and we’re listening, which is why we continue to support Startup Chicks (in Atlanta and now Savannah) count our coaching with Springboard Enterprises as a life changing experience and appreciate connecting with the fine folks at Golden Seeds. There are many other organizations where women benefit from each other’s support; in case one doesn’t exist nearby, women should consider starting one or, open a new chapter of another in their neighbor. Ella

  12. pixiedust8

    Nice points. I think Women 2.0 is a really interesting community.And you’re right–I’d never take a job faking I knew code. I believe I could learn it, but that’s also not a talent that comes “naturally” to me (as just learning SQL bored me to tears).There is other stuff I’d be willing to fake, but it would be stuff for which I have more natural talent. Maybe that’s a very female perspective? Interesting discussion.

    1. ShanaC

      I would, though I find I am less likely to be believed in that situation because I’m female.

  13. laurie kalmanson

    yes ++++++++

  14. William Mougayar

    As entrepreneurs, a woman’s struggles and a man’s struggles should be the same. One shouldn’t have to struggle more because they are a woman today. Hopefully, that day is very soon.

  15. JLM

    Why would any woman want to be “equal” when if they have just the slightest bit of guile they can not only be superior, they can own any man in any setting they put their mind to.Southern women had this figured out about 200 years ago.First, guys have barely figured out how to be authentic guys. You look at them as being homogeneous but they are not. Guys are not really complicated — sex, money, car, food/beer, sports, clothes, housing — and they are superficial.Look at a guy like Jack Welch — pinnacle of the world and lets his blood flow get misdirected.In the most male of organizations — like the Army — there are still Alpha males and others. Walk into a bar w/ 4 rows of ribbons, a CIB, a Ranger tab and jump wings — and the rest of the pack makes room for you. Quickly.Women can get the same treatment, in the same bar by harnessing their unique appeal. Not in a sexist smarmy way but by demanding respect.Be tough but be authentically tough. I made my daughter play basketball w/ the boys growing up. Basketball is the family sport and my son — 3 years older — was a great player.My daughter was so tough from playing w/ the boys she started on the varsity as a freshman. She paid her dues and she took her lumps and nobody kissed her on the forehead when she skinned her knee.And she was an animal on the court. Don’t let a ball go on the floor, because she owned it in a scrap. Learned it from her brother.And, she loved being tough and being a red headed knockout.Women do have to band together but not by faux measures — dropping the f bomb — but by being genuinely accomplished and competitive.You are overestimating the power of the boys club.

  16. Tim Thomas

    I think ultimately that men also have a responsibility to work harder to help with these new networks. The good-old-boy network just needs to be dismantled. I know far more men who find that network disgusting than men who are part of it. The amount of ignorance, arrogance and bravado running the world is frightening.I think you will find a lot of men receptive to being led by women leaders into a new way of doing business. And I agree. The key has to be female (and male) leaders rejecting that old paradigm and thinking differently. If all we do is create a bunch of women leaders who are (begrudgingly) accepted as part of the old network and treat their employees just as poorly as the current batch then we haven’t really accomplished much as a society.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I know many men who would be happy to work outside the network they are part of

  17. Carol Sacks

    Inspiring and powerful words for women whether they’re beginning their career or re-charging it. THank you.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Re-charging. I haven’t heard that one. I like it.

  18. panterosa,

    GG, I have three thoughts on this as a woman, as a mother of a girl, and as a woman in business.First, is that too many families still have a double standard on how they expect their boys and girls to behave and how they treat them. As a norm, parents are always harder on girls and expect more of them. Result is -1 for girls and +1 for boys in voicing opinions. Interestingly, my mother chose to raise me “not as a girl” specifically since she felt woman feel the incessant need to explain and justify whereas men don’t. I’m glad for that boost – thanks Mummy!Second, many girl’s schools now have research to back up that girl’s can lose their voices during the pre teen and teen years. I went to all girls school until 15 and am sending my girl to all girls school until then. I developed a very strong voice during my early teen years which meant I didn’t cower to boys.  Which was a good thing since I then went on to Exeter and we were still less than half the student body. I never shied once from debating either sex across the table from me. I have a very strong minded smart girl, and she will have what I had that worked, and more things which I tried since and found to help be an effective female communicator.Lastly, I love being involved with a very strong woman in business who is building a women’s platform to help women connect socially around business goals so they have not the equivalent of a boy’s club but for girls, but a club of their own making. That they, meaning we, women, decide what we want and need and build it is the backbone of this strong and growing network. Any women interested in this type of platform/network should go visit With&Within, which launched in Italy and launching in the US shortly.

    1. Gotham Gal

      an interesting topic around what happened in home, growing up, to women who have perhaps made it to the top of their fields or can debate any man and feeling comfortable doing it.

      1. panterosa,

        My next steps in my own startup require taking on the male dominated field of science as not only a woman, but a non-scientist. Interestingly, my most vocal supporters are all male, the ones who love strong women. A nice turnout with regard to men. My women friends are supportive from their side too, including supporting my 3rd act career as an entrepreneur. 

  19. JamesHRH

    GG – my wife is a senior exec in the oil patch. I don’t think she would buy your change from the outside line. If a guy gets ‘the look’ when he takes child care leave or cuts out @ 3 to take his kids to the doctor, all the female tech deals in the world aren’t helping much.Large private sector companies need to be more balanced in their approach to gender norms – that comes from the CEO (man or woman) changing the culture.Change comes from the top.

    1. Gotham Gal

      companies start at the top, they create culture and vibe. totally agree on that. unfortunately most large companies have no interest in changing. when men, start checking out at 3pm for a kids doctor appointment, going to all their kids basketball games, taking off an extended period of time when they have a baby…then things will even begin to change more as it is the family/community that raises a family and equality will ring loud and clear.

  20. Donna Brewington White

    I love your rants. They are enlightening and empowering.I spent most of my life feeling like I missed school on a day that certain things were taught. At first, I thought this had to do with being raised as a racial minority in a certain time and place. But then I started running into women who had the same experience and realized it was not just about race, but that some of it, maybe a lot of it was about gender. And it wasn’t so much missing a day of school but that school was a whole different thing for us.Even more valuable was realizing that talking about it, even ranting about it, is not whining or complaining. Hearing others talk about it let’s me know I am not crazy.I still hang out in a lot of places where I am the only or one of the few women. I like to think that being there makes it easier for the next woman.One of the cool things is that when you talk about women networking together, creating a secondary circle, is that this is now actually possible.I love that my teenage daughter has a whole group of jock girl friends. After track practice tomorrow they are going to the mall and then off to see Titanic. She can face fierce competition, kick butt and cry at the movies with the same group of girls. Her world will be different than mine.

  21. rebeccastees

    Fortunately, I am from a family business culture.I was totally unprepared for my college professor asking me to come to his office every week for private tutoring.  (I declined)   He told me that I wouldn’t fit in with the other students in the class.  (He later married one of them.) A few years ago, I started a women’s business book club. It was a great support to me and I found some great mentors through it.

    1. Gotham Gal


  22. Jennifer McFadden

    Amazing–on so many levels. And, so, so, true. We’ve (@@skillcrush:disqus) have had a few preliminary conversations with some of my friends (male and female) about our venture and fundraising strategy. The women get the concept quickly–we’re building a community for online skill-based learning…think, codecademy for women w/a few more skills thrown in–and are eager to help in any way. The men, on the other hand, have suggested that we start looking for socially-responsible investment funds. To which we are quick to respond that a) we’re definitely in it to increase the # of female technologists/founders/web makers AND b) to make money. It’s not a social venture just because our target market is women. I like the analogy that you made about the swagger that guys have as they walk down the hall as a team. I think that I have some of that swaggerlicious attitude which was undoubtedly fostered via my heavy involvement with sports starting at a young age. The group of girls that I grew up playing soccer with from an early age and played intensely with (four seasons, travel, varsity freshman year type intensity) for most of my life all seem to have this same no-bullshit mentality. That being said, we also like make-up and heels (sometimes) and clothes and flowers. What we’re trying to do at @skillcrush:twitter  is say, “hey, you can still like these things…and, we’re going to lead with them…but we’d like to see you add a few tech skills into the mix so that you’ve got a seat at the table.” Time will tell if we’re successful!We wrote about “Creating our own Clubhouse” as our first blog post–so this is a particularly fitting analogy. I know that there are other amazing women out there doing the same thing–GirlDevelopIt, Women2.0, Webgrrls–and, we look forward to working with them, and others, as we build our own club. We may be embracing what’s feminine, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not fierce :)Thanks again for posting!

    1. Gotham Gal

      that take no bullshit mentality is the key.

  23. ceonyc

    I’d love to see more women create open events that I can join.  I do play on a lot of co-ed sports teams that I open up to women, but, not surprisingly, the majority of participants are guys.  I do know a ton of female runners–I think a female tech professional would do quite well starting a regular tech running group.  Same with yoga, which I just started (and seems to skew 80% female–but I think most guys get invited by women to participate).  A lot of guys in their 30’s are realizing that being “big” isn’t as important as being able to actually move and be flexible, so they’re getting into it.  Where’s the tech yoga club run by women, but open to all?  I’d be more than happy to attend more balanced social events, like volunteering, food tastings, etc.  I feel that, too often, the guys are running all the “open” events that skew towards more male-oriented activities, and women are running events just for women–and neither really helps build balanced networks.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Truth is women don’t want to be networking like men so even if it is athletic driven I’m not convinced it would change the ratio

      1. ceonyc

        So… creating your own events on your own terms that are open wouldn’t help women build their connections? I’d respectfully disagree with that as the few women I know who host dinner parties and have started events and meetups around their own interests are some of the most well connected professionals I know.Sure, we gather and connect differently–but I don’t think we are *so* different that the common bond of connecting around shared interests can’t be professionally useful.

  24. Laura M Staugaitis

    Amen! Inspiring words for a young professional woman. Thank you…

  25. Pamela Day

    I love this post, and had read it a week or so ago.  After watching this TedX video I was compelled to return and share – The Capuchin monkeys are my new role model!If you are short on time skip to 12:55, it is brilliant.

    1. Gotham Gal

      brilliant. thanks for sharing. i got a good howl out of that. says something, eh?

  26. Lockers

    First of all I want to tell that by meaning, a locker space is a position where individuals can modify their outfits and also shop them in a locker. Some locker areas have guests who help customers shop their outfits.