Continuation from Women are bad Entrepreneurs? Speak for yourself! Part 1
I asked Smith College Alumnae to share their thoughts about the article by Penelope Trunk in Techcrunch that claims that women are bad at startup’s because of kids. The post is inflammatory to say the least. Here is a continuation of what Smith women had to say about the post.
Cynthia Neil says, “Ms. Trunk has made her own decision for her own reasons. She could have written an excellent article written simply from that premise. Instead she has generalized her decision to all women of a certain age who aren’t running startups — a mistake, in my view. I’d like to know what she means about the biological clock exploding at 35 — are you not supposed to have kids after that? There are women having their first children well after that date (including myself, and including many of the lawyers I know). Not everyone is dating the right person at 25, or 27 — I certainly wasn’t.
And only 1 year of marriage sans children? Girl needs to get a life — or may value her husband primarily as a sperm donor, which is too bad, because although men are definitely different from women I usually enjoy being around my husband, and we certainly enjoyed life together before our child arrived (which was four years into our marriage).
I also find it amusing that she thinks she’s “a magnet for high-powered women with stay-at-home husbands”, but it’s really the women running the household too, because the men just don’t pay enough attention. AND they’re running startups as well. Really? Methinks perhaps she’s a magnet for control freaks who fail to see the value of their spouses… not necessarily for high-powered women.
I’m sure she makes good points about the nature of startups — that they demand 100-hour weeks, that they are like having a child, that it’s very difficult to have a personal life of any magnitude while you are involved in a startup. That’s fine. The startup as a specific kind of business may not be what women with young children need. My mother runs a business out of her home — granted, she’s not in that age range and doesn’t have small children at home, but she COULD be in that situation and she’d still be fine doing what she’s doing. It’s a very flexible situation and she’s making a great deal of money. It’s not a “startup” in the sense that Penelope uses the word, or really in any sense — she’s been running it in one form or another since I went to college — but it would be a feasible business for a new/young mother.
I think it’s doable for young women with the right kind of knowhow and dedication to run their own new business while they get their personal lives going. They will need to remain more flexible than Ms. Trunk has.
I also wish that Ms. Trunk hadn’t generalized her experience to the entire female population. What about the women who met their mate when they were in college? Or the ones who don’t until they’re 35? She has a very narrow definition of the female personal/career path. She’s right that our personal choices affect our career choices — duh, it’s your career, so it’s personal too. But to generalize all of those choices to all of her readers is silly. Why not write it as “this is my decision and why I’m making it”?”
Kennie Desine wrote, “[The post] reminded me of a pivotal law suit, decades ago, charging Sears (it may have been Sears & Roebuck at the time) with discrimination against a female employee who vied with male employees for a significant departmental promotion. Sears stated that women didn’t perform well in management, as they were more interested in “makinig friends” on the job, while men approached management as if it were a jungle. The finding was against the female Plaintiff.”
Tish Gier wrote, “Trunk is an a$%&*#@ who is reporting her own anecdotal experience and someone should smack her right in the head. The issue is very complicated–and 20-30 something men are often prejudice against 40-something women(who are often in the “entrepreneurial phase” of their lives) because they see women only as either those who are marriagabel and those who are not. Yes, women have biological clocks, but when those clocks slow down, or if they decide (for many a good reason) not to have children, and they want to develop something, it’s men’s own biological clocks that cause us to be left out.” (@tishgrier, read her blog)
Annie Pedersen writes, “The author has a point. In my business, I see married couples with children and both spouses work. Many times the mother is the parent making the doctor’s appointments, driving the soccer taxi, and making dinner. There are plenty of exceptions, too; however, where the father takes over those tasks. Anecdotely, it appears the parent with the lower paying job seems to be the one who takes on more of the home-based work.” (read Annie’s other post on finding success here, email her, or visit her website)