Source | Entrepreneur : By Helene Berkowitz
I’ll let you in on a little secret: not every startup founder is a 22-year old white male living at home with his parents. Some of us are – wait for it – women, and within that small circle, there’s an even smaller one that barely makes a blip on the radar: mothers.
It’s like a dirty little secret we aren’t supposed to admit – that we have children and families – while we create biotech companies, law firms, AR & VR technologies, and software engineering teams.
Startups = Innovation
What is innovation? It’s creating new technologies, or doing something in a better, more efficient, or affordable way.
And yet, many believe innovation must be done in a cookie-cutter way, like a verbal Paint by Numbers set:
- Describe your product
- Research the competition
- Design a marketing plan
…And so on.
Life is rarely mentioned. What happens when you’re on a call with an investor and your son gets sick at school? Who handles things at home when you’re abroad representing your company at a trade show or startup competition? If you’re a female entrepreneur, you give a lengthy explanation about how you handle it all. If you’re a male entrepreneur, the question is never even asked.
- The Challenges
The cookie-cutter method brings unique challenges to working mothers. I recall being told more than once, “Yeah, most people doing this don’t have kids, so…” or “Good luck with that”in an obnoxious, negative, sarcastic ‘you’re-never-gonna-make-it’ tone.
Dr Gitanjali Swamy, Managing Partner of IoTask LLC, recalls her years of study at Harvard Business School. It was in the mid-2000s and Gita had a 1-year old baby. The admissions office told her, “You won’t be able to survive the program; it’s tough.” Gita replied, “Do you say this to every man who has a family?” At the time of the class, Gita remembers roughly 900 students with an almost equal male/female ratio. While about half of the male students had children, just 3 female students did. 3 out of 900.