This week, a book about women and tech — Innovating Women – will be released. I have an essay in it and I’m pretty honest in it about the challenges of being a female leader in a startup. The irony is that there’s already been some controversy over the book’s co-author, an entrepreneur-turned-academic named Vivek Wadhwa, and why a man gets to represent this movement.
An excerpt from my chapter:
A certain type of person gravitates toward innovations that attempt to disrupt the status quo. And it’s especially hard for women, with the high stakes of leaving a steady paycheck and time with children behind, to embrace risk. When people ask me why I keep doing these new projects, the common theme that has emerged is that women are a necessary part of any industry trying to innovate or reinvent itself. Startups need women. And the ones I have done happen to need me. I hate the term “office mom,” but I do think we have this ability to nurture and mentor, give tough love, be blunt in our criticism and also keep going the immediacy, need for decisive action and precision. We’re good at keeping the trains running and figuring out where they’re going. So I might not want to be the office mom, but I suspect a lot of women like me look around, and are happy to play the role or fill the void that’s needed, to do what needs to be done. And startups are all about what needs to be done.
When Quartz launched, I was still pumping breastmilk for my daughter. We had a retreat in our president’s apartment. I pumped in his master bedroom. We went out for a Chinese banquet dinner. I pumped in the supply closet. We went out for drinks. I pumped in the bathroom. I was determined to be there though. Those are the sacrifices you make to do it all, have it all.
It’s still a really lonely existence.
Rest assured, I end on a more upbeat note. Well, kind of…