A Different Look At Startups (Vs. Penelope Trunk)

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By Joanne Wilson (Blogger & Angel Investor, Gotham Gal) Penelope Trunk's post titled "Stop Telling Women to do Startups" made the rounds this weekend. This is not the first time that we have heard from Penelope and I am sure it will not be the last. As I sat down to write my thoughts on her post and others comments, I chuckled to myself as I read the Editors note: Her opinions are her own. Well…they sure as hell are.

She does get one thing right from the very beginning of her post; Clearly, women have a choice. That is absolutely right, we do.

We have all read the statistics, many women leave the workforce to raise their children. I am a victim of that myself. I left the workplace because I left one career that I had no interest in ever returning to again so it was timing more than anything else. I spend those years at home with my kids trying to figure out how to get back to the workplace under my own terms. I was lucky because I figured that out but not every woman is and I know many who wish they could.

I am not going to waste my time going off on Penelope’s inane myopic rambling of a blog post that contradicts herself throughout and is certainly looking at life through a 1940’s lens so I am going to write about why women should do startups.

Women should do startups because the only way to change environments that are relegated to a 9-5 day is if the changes come from outside corporate America. Women are fantastic managers and multi-taskers…they get shit done. They take their responsibilities seriously. Most women want to have their own identity that is separate from their kids and family. They want to use their brains and make a difference. As Margaret Thatcher once said “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

More women should start their own companies for several reasons besides the ones I listed above. Women tend to build companies that fill voids in their lives and it ends up that many of those voids change all of our lives over time. Here are a few of those things; Kevlar, the Apgar test, circular saw, cooking stove, refrigerator, ironing board, dishwasher, Scotchgard, fire escapes, liquid paper, the windshield wiper, the life raft, ZipCar and the first software for computing.

I love supporting women entrepreneurs for many reasons but here are a few more. Women tend to be entrepreneurial as it pairs well with a multi-tasker. They are self-starters. If every woman started a company and those companies ended up having market caps from $100K to $1B we would not have only changed the ratio, we would change the economy. We wouldn’t only change the economy financially we would change the way people work hence creating communities.

We would have more women CEOs who would hire more women and understand the flexibility needed in womens lives. So if a call had to be made at 9pm, so be it.If a woman could only get to the office 3 days a week, so be it. So be it because we all know no matter what the work week needs to look like for a woman to be successful in her work life and her personal life, the job will get done. These companies are good for family, community and the economy. I feel honored every day that I am able to be involved and support the many women entrepreneurs that I have met because they are doing just that.

Don’t discount women’s intellect and drive. If there were environments for women where they could have a better balance between life, family and the workplace, call me crazy but I think most women would stay at the work table under terms that would allow them to have it all. There need to be more options (childcare) and women entrepreneurs can create those options. Doesn’t mean that some will never opt out and work 24/7 while others will just make the choice to stay home yet the brain power we are losing out on because those options aren’t readily available is overwhelming. I am still trying to figure out a company that could help every women get back into the workplace under their own terms particularly women of my generation who so badly want to return and don't know how to get back. But that is for another post.

As for Penelope’s expectation that women would run at half-speed because they have children is utter bullshit. Have she met Tereza Nemessanyi of Honestly Now, or Joanne Lang of About One, or Amanda Steinberg of DailyWorth, or Amanda Hesser of Food 52, or Erin Newkirk of Red Stamp… I could make a huge list but that gets my point across. All of these women including others are paving the way for our next generation of daughters (and quite frankly sons who support these women and their killer businesses).

I have one last comment, I only hope that my daughters are able to create their own business using their brain power daily while being an amazing mother to their children at the same time. If Penelope had her way she wouldn't have the opportunity to write a column that would be posted on TechCrunch and she might as well not send her daughters to college because they should just stay home and bake brownies. You know what, I still bake brownies and get a lot of shit done every day in the startup world....and I love that I can because, why shouldn't I.

This post was originally posted at Gotham Gal.

Photo credit: Dori Smith.

About the guest blogger: Joanne Wilson is an advisor and investor in startups, including Curbed (Eater/Racked), Food52, Red Stamp, Catchafire, DailyWorth, Editd, Ricks Picks, Cacao Pietro, Editions 01, Hot Bread Kitchen, Nest.io, Gotham Gym, The Moon Group and MOUSE. Her most successful venture is being married to her best friend Fred and raising her three kids, Jessica, Emily and Josh. Joanne blogs under the name Gotham Gal. Follow her on Twitter at @thegothamgal.