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Entrepreneur: Gender Generalizations

by Miki Saxon

234202590_ddcc02ea79_mI have to admit that a post by Penelope Trunk, founder of Brazen Careerist, about “why you shouldn’t do a startup with women (if you’re a man)” greatly annoyed me, but not for the reasons you might think.

I have no quibble with what Trunk wrote about her own experience, but I do object strenuously to the idea that it is universally applicable.

Wondering if it was only me, I sent the link to KG Charles-Harris, founder/CEO of EMANIO and founder of the M3 Foundation, whose co-founder at EMANIO is female, and he emailed back,

“Interesting.  I hadn’t thought of this until now.  This is my first startup and my experience is that having Julie as co-founder has made us survive.”

I also sent it to Matt Weeks, Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer, Actio.tv and who occasionally writes for the Friday entrepreneur feature If the Shoe Fits,

“Some of the best women I’ve worked with were direct, authentic, professional, and had very similar styles as the men.  The open question is– were they adapting and modeling the men in the workplace to fit-in (having observed that crying and throwing tantrums was not likely to lead to advancement)….? or were they hard-wired to have the same style and temperament as men,and that was a key to their success…?   Most female workers are not about drama or making chaos or making their female-ness a centerpiece of the workplace dynamic or culture.  In fact having diversity in a fast-moving team with a variety of perspectives has led to better insight, better strategy and better product creation in my direct experience.  Great teams are better for the diversity of perspective, not hopelessly paralyzed and unable to focus. It depends how experienced they are in managing divergent views and coalescing around a single course of action.  That said, some men with whom I have worked indulged their male-ness,and narcissism, creating their own flavor of drama and chaos. This doesn’t even begin to figure-in the gender and sexual orientation component, which could flip the equation again.  And then flip it again.”

I also looked in the mirror and had to admit that I have been know to inject drama and chaos in my interactions, but those occasions had nothing to do with my gender.

They happened at that moment because I ran out of rope and they were over almost immediately because I reached deep or out and found more rope.

Personally, I have a hard time understanding monthly mood swings since I never experienced them, nor am I particularly comfortable with prolonged exposure to highly emotional people no matter their gender or orientation.

When I was young there seemed to be fewer choices, women got upset, got emotional and cried, whereas men got upset, got drunk and hit the wall or whatever was handy—I have done both—I wonder what that makes me?

The take-away is that your MAP will dictate the amount of drama and chaos acceptable in any culture you establish or that you are willing to personally endure.

Please join me tomorrow for a look at the power and pitfalls of influence.

Flickr image credit: scriptingnews

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About Miki View Miki Saxon's profile on LinkedIn

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