It It Just Me ?
The Shared Responsibility of Negative Stereotypes in Tech
Am I the only woman who questions why other female founders often select names for their organizations or companies that invoke sexism while their mission is empowering women?
I know this will be an unpopular post and the haters will crucify me for writing what many women think but don’t verbalize. This has been building for months but when I saw an article today by a woman I respect it made me channel Christine Taylor from Dodgeball and I “threw up in my mouth a little bit”.
Today gender equality is being brought to the forefront of conversations, but yet I’m still overwhelmed by the number of organizations with “diva” or “chick” in the name whose main objective is promoting female equality in tech. If as women we choose to categorize ourselves by names society has designated as sexist aren’t we perpetuating a negative stereotype? If we want equality shouldn’t we strive for gender neutral terms or those seen as empowering? I wonder how you would feel if a colleague, customer, employee, or investor called you a “diva” or a “chick” in the workplace? What if someone used that term to describe your daughter, girlfriend, or wife? My guess is unless it was your BFF you would not be happy.
I understand that as women we refer to ourselves by many terms, some often less flattering than those previously mentioned. We do this when we are hanging out with girlfriends rather than at a business meeting or in front of clients. In these environments, it’s all in good fun just as it is for the guys.
I’m used to being the only woman in the room having worked in tech my entire career so I take a lot in stride. Maybe this rhetoric bothers me so much because I feel as women we should be conscious of how our actions impact our future and that of future generations just as much as the actions of our male counterparts.
Now you might be thinking this woman has a chip on her shoulder, or she hates other women, or she just doesn’t relate to women who are feminine. The reality is I am an avid supporter of women and regularly donate my time and money to helping other women succeed. I am also a woman who loves high heels, wears makeup, dresses and gets regular manicures. I’m proud to be female but when it comes to my career like most women I know, I want to be judged on my merit.
I will end by saying I respect the women who run these organizations. I believe they are making a valiant effort to empower all women, especially those charting their path in male-dominated industries. From Startup Chicks and Coding Divas to Hautepreneur’s, along with dozens of similarly named organizations, I’m sure the name has special meaning to the founder. To the women who launched these organizations, I say; it’s your company, your baby and you should feel free to do whatever makes you happy but do so with the understanding that the world sees your name, your brand, and it does impact how you and your business are seen by women and men.