The rare woman tech start-up founder

The first time that I became really aware of how unusual it was to be a female start-up founder was a couple of months back. At the time, I was writing a series of articles about entrepreneurship based on the book Founders at Work (you can find links to all the articles here). When I finished the series, I sent a note to Jessica Livingston, the author and co-founder of Y Combinator, to thank her for the book because it had a big impact on me. The following is a small snippet of her reply:

“I am especially pleased that you have started your own thing as a woman. Female founders seem so few and far between.”

Female symbolI think it might be because I don’t live in Silicon Valley (where I live, start-ups themselves are few and far between) but I hadn’t thought too much about the rarity of a female founder until I read Livingston’s email. Since then, I have thought quite a bit about it. And today, this post – Girls in Tech (Yes, They Exist) – by Sarah Lacy crossed my Google Reader, and I wanted to share it. One of my favorite bits:

“It’s understandable not wanting to be treated as a “token.” But the way I look at it, if I’ve got disadvantages of being a woman in a male-dominated industry, why not take the advantages?”

The topic Sarah’s post is that men and women are different. And it’s true, that might account for there being fewer women founders. But, although it may have been said many times in many ways, I think it’s a mistake to gloss over the issue of having kids. It is possible that I believe this is such a major factor because I read Penelope Trunk’s blog, which, honestly,  scares  the  hell  out  of  me. (Go read some of those posts, you’ll fall in love with her blog, but you’ll be scared, too!)

For every start-up founder, I think, balancing a career with the rest of life is something to think about. But as a woman, the issue rarely leaves my mind. It adds urgency, pressure and stress. And I’m sure for some women, this trifecta of bad emotion is enough to keep them from starting that start-up.

What do you think?

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