A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.
If you’re a bro this post is especially for you.
You’ve all heard the stories of women who weren’t taken seriously as founders and couldn’t get funding.
You’ve heard it as anecdotal evidence, directly from women founders, and from those around them.
In fact, there’s finally enough data-driven proof that the fact can no longer be denied or blamed off on something else.
It’s not just investors; but suppliers, partners, and vendors who ignore/condescend/etc., when the other party is female.
Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer experienced all these problems when they launched Witchsy last year.
So they took a time-honored approach.
Having noticed that the mostly male artists, developers, and designers they were working with took their sweet time to respond to requests and were often slightly rude and condescending in email— “They’d say things like ‘Listen, girls…,’” Dwyer tells Quartz—they decided to bring in a male co-founder named Keith Mann to make communication easier.
Pre-Keith, Dwyer explains, “it was very clear no one took us seriously and everybody thought we were just idiots.” When “Keith” contacted collaborators, Gazin says, “they’d be like ‘Okay, bro, yeah, let’s brainstorm!’”
Keith only lasted six months, but, by then, being Keith had taught them to stop being communicating “like a girl.”
Neither the approach nor the result is unique; women have been obscuring their sex to get ahead for centuries. But…
In era that touts gender equality, even school-age children are still absorbing warped messages about the sexes. A recent study published in the journal Science revealed that by the time most girls are six, they believe that only males can be geniuses.
That means by the time a female hits first grade she’s already convinced she’s second best.
And that’s on you.