Before you check when the article was published, yes it was in the 21st Century. October 9th, 2010 to be exact. If you haven’t read it as of yet, here it is.
Thank you to my friend Elena Yunusov who brought this article to my attention early this afternoon.
While admittedly, it put a little bit of a damper on my day – it gave me the opportunity to feel even stronger than I already do about Leadership, Women in Leadership and Women Founders and to also share the article with my network. I know of heap loads of women and men who have very strong opinions on this – from all sorts of angles. Click on the image below – and then on the “Shares” to view some insights from those in my Facebook network.
First off I’d like to say that I used to admire Penelope Trunk. In fact, I remember considering going to a conference a while back because she was a keynote speaker. I don’t know what happened to you, Penelope but I’m sure I’m not the only one who suspects that you may have tripped over everything that we loved you for and fallen in to a time machine. So sorry to hear. Apparently, all it took was for you to meet the love of your life and to have children. While I do not have children of my own, I do have this to say: I sincerely hope that when I do, I do not have the desire to produce a post as irresponsibly titled as “Women Don’t Want To Do Startups. They Want Children”
“WOMEN DON’T WANT TO DO STARTUPS. THEY WANT CHILDREN” – THE TITLE
I wonder if the title was created by Penelope’s PR rep. As soon as I saw it, I immediately thought “Great. Another cheap and low attempt to attract some attention and traffic”. As a marketer – I take these things like a grain of salt. While I do not agree with misleading titles, tags and link-bait (I find it irresponsible and dirty) – I know that it is done all the time in the journalism and communications world. While, I was very reluctant to read beyond the title I took a deep breath, moved any sharp and heavy objects away from me, and just dove on in. I figured at most, this piece would allow me to learn more about people in general. Even those whom I do not see eye to eye with.
AND THEN THE ENDLESS RANT OF OUTLANDISH STATEMENTS
Where do I even begin?
“So I had a going away party. To say goodbye, but also to acknowledge that I am officially not crazy enough to spend another year missing out on being with my kids.”
As if spending time with children while running the ship at a startup are for for insane folks. Women (and men) need to stop feeling guilty for being parents while also investing in their professional careers. I’m not sure how exactly Penelope announced this to her team, but I feel like if I had announced to my team “I’m leaving because I’m not crazy enough to spend another year here with you to miss out on being with my kids” that it could quite possibly send out a negative and low morale-like message. What kind of an example would I be setting for everyone (both men and women) on my team?
“Startups move at break-neck pace, under a lot of pressure to succeed bigger and faster than any normal company….”
Something I 100% agree with! Yipee.
“…And women don’t want to give up their personal life in exchange for the chance to be the next Google. Or even the next Feedburner…”
Way to ruin it. What makes Penelope think that men feel differently about not giving up their personal life in exchange for being successful? Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone would want to give up their personal lives and well-being in exchange to be the next Google. To think that men would is one massive false assumption. It’s about individual priorities and what one categorizes as “compromises” and “their personal life”. To each their own.
“…Which is why the number of women who pitch is so small, and, therefore, the number of women who get funding is small.”
This is just an absurd correlation. Really? Does Penelope really think that it’s as simple as that? Just like that, right? There’s a serious need for some systemic thinking here.
“Women are under real pressure to have kids, though. They have a biological clock. So women who are the typical age of entrepreneurs”?25″?need to be looking for someone to mate with. Think about it. If you want to have kids before you’re 35″?when your biological clock explodes”?then you need to start when you’re 30, allowing for one miscarriage, which is more probable than most young people think. If you need to start having kids when you’re 30, you probably need to meet the guy you’re going to marry by the time you’re 27, so you can date for a year, get married, and live together for a year before kids. If you need to meet that guy by 27, you are very distracted during your prime startup time.”
Lovely. The B-word. Although, I have to say that by the time I reached this part of the article – I pretty much expected her to bring it up. Let’s think about where the pressure to have children comes from. Guess what? It’s articles like this along with statements like “By the age of 25…blah blah blah” that contribute to having women feel they should be pressured to have kids. Also, it’s people who want to have children – not just women. While it may be ignorant to dismiss and ignore the biological clock point, I want to point out that it is both men and women who have a “biological clock”.
“And I’m not even going to go into the idea of women having a startup with young kids. It is absolutely untenable. The women I know who do this have lost their companies or their marriages or both. And there is no woman running a startup with young kids, who, behind closed doors, would recommend this life to anyone.”
Really? Untenable? Are you sure, Penelope? A part of me feels bad for you – at the possibility that you may not have a great support network. I know some great fellow women Startup Founders – who are also phenomenal mothers. I should introduce you all to one another. Although, some of them may just put you through the ringer based on this absurd article.
“For men it’s different. We all know that men do not search all over town finding the perfect ballet teacher.”
A false assumption. I know men who are looking to be mentored by top notch ballet instructors – as do I know men who are searching for a great gym, the perfect car, their first home for their family, a great carseat for their toddler, etc.
“Did you know that in Farmville, women make colorful, fun farms, and men make big, sprawling farms? And I don’t think it’s a social pressure sort of thing. My sons are under no pressure from me to beat each other up with anything that they can turn into a sword, which is everything. And the girls who visit are under no social pressure to sit quietly, and watch. Boys and girls are fundamentally different even before they get to Farmville.”
Sure, boys and girls are fundamentally different before they get to Farmville and any other games. I agree with this point. However, if children are not getting pressured from their own parents (directly – at least) it’s crazy to actually think that interactions between parents and their children are the only factor. Ask yourself this question: What type of toys showed up at your child’s baby shower? What did you purchase as a gift for the last baby shower you attended? That’s right, baby showers. Even before a child is born, we are putting them in buckets and educating them on gender roles.
“Women want to control their time, control their work, to be flexible for their kids.”
“And all men do is work. They are too busy bringing home the bacon that they don’t have time for their kids” – or something like that, right?
“My startup is me and a bunch of twenty-something guys. And if you’re a woman launching a startup, my advice is to stick with this crowd. They never stop working because it’s so exciting to them: the learning curve is high, they can move anywhere, they can live on nothing, and they can keep wacky hours.”
Men also develop the need to invest in their personal lives. Trust me, I work around MANY of this type of male breed that Penelope speaks of – but even I would not generalize men in their 20-somethings like this – as I find it intolerable when people make generalizations about me and the “profile” I fall in to.
My main issue with this piece is that there are endless amounts of assumptions, generalizations, statements and just idiotic comments that further perpetuate gender role stereotypes. I have the utmost respect for those who choose to have children and take a step back from their careers, those who decide not to have children and focus on their careers, those who have children and focus on their career simultaneously. To be honest, I couldn’t care less what route people take. To each their own. It’s all about CHOICE. Commit to them, do a great job in the roles you sign up for – and do not make generalizations based on your own life situations and experiences. Nobody twists your arm to do or be anything you don’t want to be.
Filed under: Entrepreneurship