I think startups share this drinking DNA with a lot of sales organizations, law firms, and financial institutions. All the “work hard, play hard” attitudes. Unsurprisingly, I’ve seen time and time again where these cultures not only penalize non-drinkers, they penalize women and parents disproportionately. With the drinking culture comes an expectation of staying late to hang out with the team. If decisions are being made at the bar, and you’re not at the bar, well, then….
I’m a married woman and a mother, and while some people in my situation do enjoy letting off steam that way, I don’t. I don’t like how I’ve been hit on by my coworkers when they’ve had one too many at a company event or post-event-party. I don’t like losing respect for people I have to work with. I don’t like missing too much of my precious family time. I don’t like coming in to work hungover the next day (where’s THAT loss of productivity in the “work hard, play hard manual?”). I go home after my one or two drinks and call it a night. I know leaving early has hurt perceptions of me and some of my opportunities, but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make. The companies with the right cultures, though, they don’t care.