We really can do it.
October 7th, 2012
Being an entrepreneur is a challenge. Your focus and energy are constantly being pulled in every direction of your business, from operations to finance to management to marketing. It’s an incredible learning experience, and it’s something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. On the other hand, it frustrates me that being a young female entrepreneur poses additional challenges on top of the obvious business expectations. That the world can’t move beyond stereotypes and assumptions is an issue I battle regularly, and it’s an issue that I feel no woman acting on her ambitions should have to face.
Often we hear the tech industry referred to as a “man’s world” — it’s a male-dominated field, and the common view is that women in technology and women who run tech startups are an anomaly of the industry. There is a dichotomy in this. We want to bring attention to the fact that the percentage is skewed so that we might encourage women to choose science and technology as a career path, but alternatively we don’t want to discount those women who are already a part of the industry and ultimately alienate those who are actively working to change the trends. Long story short, the more we focus on the fact that any given industry is a “man’s world,” the more the general public expects it to be.
When I introduce myself as a member of an interactive studio, I’ve had people immediately assume I’m a secretary or a sales representative. I’m aware that my young appearance renders me an unlikely business owner, but my equally youthful male business partner has yet to be met with similar assumptions. In fact, no matter how we present ourselves, many people — both male and female — immediately assume he is “the boss,” and often ignore both me and our female partner in favor of speaking directly with him. This is something that frustrates all three of us regularly, and in spite of the fact that we have been pushing to make the women of our organization more front-and-center, the trend persists.
I am lucky to be partnered with a very strong woman and an understanding man who both share my passion for empowering women in the workplace. We all see the need to make female leaders more visible and better respected, and will continue to fight these assumptions until we see widespread change.
Let’s start appreciating what women have to offer in the workplace — not simply because we are women, but because we are capable professionals. As half of the global population yet only a quarter of the tech population, women are being presented with a great opportunity to influence positive change within this industry.