What is it like to be a female in tech?
I think the industry is really curious about this topic — almost so much so that we appear committed to proving how different (or perhaps difficult) it is to be a female CEO.
If a reporter asks me why it sucks to be a female CEO, I can come up with hundreds of reasons. On the other hand, if I am asked to argue why it’s awesome to be a female CEO, I can also do that pretty well. So here is my take on both sides.
Top 3 reasons it sucks to be a female CEO
- If you are aggressive, you are a bitch. If you are emotional, you are PMSing. If you are soft, you are too feminine. Whatever way someone finds you, they can always justify it because you are female.
- You may get more sales meetings because some of the guys that you are pitching to have a different agenda. Since it’s difficult to distinguish it early on, you may end up wasting some time. If you turn down their advances (and it gets awkward), doing deals with their companies can become difficult.
- Hiring engineers can get tricky. When you reach out to prospective developers, you may get emails like this:
I’m pretty happy with current job, but if you’re single I’d like to date you. Perhaps there are some unconventional ways to lure me away from my company (besides stock options) if you know what I mean 🙂
And the sad news is, this is one of the more professional emails.
Top 3 reasons it is awesome to be a female CEO
- Sometimes, guys are more willing to help you because you are a girl. On the flip side, girls will help you because you are a “fellow female entrepreneur.” This is one of the rarely spoken benefits of being a female CEO, especially when you are trying to get things off the ground.
- Fundraising can be easier. For instance, there are female investors whose personal goal is to empower other female entrepreneurs. When Tyra invested in Locket, I felt lucky to be a female CEO.
- You might be able to hire more talented female employees. You understand them better so it can be easier to identify a good fit. And if you land on the right ones, they can be really good (e.g. our designer Lisa is the best). After all, there are a bunch of studies (done by female organizations, obv) that show women perform better on the job.
The lesson here is that it is all about how you frame your perspective. If you are committed to believing that it sucks to be a female CEO, you will be right, and it will suck to be you. If you are committed to believing it’s awesome to be a female CEO, you will be happier and more confident to be you.
After all, it’s not like you can choose whether to be a female CEO vs a male CEO. But you can choose your attitude toward it.