Last Saturday the New York Times’ business section ran an article (“Nurturing a Baby and a Start-Up Business“) about women with small children who launch high-growth tech companies. It profiled several women launching and running highly successful start-ups while they are pregnant or have very young kids and how their success is “dispelling the image of the tech entrepreneur as a single, usually male, wunderkind.”
The article goes on to say that the investing world remains skeptical about a woman’s ability to launch a tech startup and make it work while also raising young kids. Apparently some — but not all — venture capital firms are concerned that women with small children won’t put in the long hours and give the 150% required to make a fast-growth tech company work in the first few crazy years.
One of the women profiled, Carley Roney, a mother of three and the cofounder of the XO Group, a media company valued at $300 million, said that when she was raising capital for her company, she had to keep her pregnancy a secret. Of course, for the men who were also trying to raise capital for their venture, having a spouse who was expecting, or having small children at home already, was never even a consideration.
My first reaction to the article was, “Are we really still having this conversation? In 2012? Really?” Well, actually my first reaction was total admiration for the amazing female entrepreneurs the Times profiled. Followed quickly by outrage at the fact that they, and all of the women coming behind them, still need to prove that they can be a mother AND do a stellar job at launching and running a company.
Here’s the answer. Yes. They. Can. They can and do every single day of the year. They figure it out just like the many fathers who launch and run companies AND who also happen to care about whether or not their children are fed, clothed, and safe. When will the time come that a woman — who happens to be a mom — is able to seek investment funding while being judged by her experience, cutting-edge business idea, profit model, and chutzpah rather than how old her kids are? And when does the presumption end that she will slack off or be less crisp in her thinking because she is also a mom?
How is she going to juggle a startup and raising young children? That’s her business. She will figure it out with the same passion, energy, and roll-up-her-sleeves know-how that makes her a kickass entrepreneur. This double standard has got to end. Good golly, if the tech industry, which is supposed to be fueled by one amazing innovative idea after another, isn’t going to tap into the awe-inspiring creative force of women, even those who dare to procreate, they are going to lose out on some game-changing, profit-exploding companies.
Anyone else fed up with the double standard?