It’s time to be equal, Ladies

Renata George
Jul 8, 2017 · 4 min read

Earlier today, an actor and startup investor Ashton Kutcher vocalized the questions many men in Silicon Valley have in mind, but are afraid to ask (no kiddin’).

Most of the women who replied to his post started with labeling them “sexist”. No answers followed.

Now, that’s not fair, my dear female fellows. Men of the tech community worldwide are finally listening to us. Do we have ANYTHING to say BESIDES accusations? Do we have anything to suggest instead of ripping on them when they try to learn?

Not only have we finally spoken out and been heard, but we were also asked for help. Ashton hasn’t been accused in startup related unwanted advances, as far as I know, so he asked that not even for himself, but representing all other men, including innocent ones. Why are we so willingly ripping him apart for no cause?

Some women may say that the wording he used was the cause. But every single man in the world has been sexist at least once (criticizing women drivers is also sexism). Unfortunately, it’s in their DNA, so they can’t just turn it off completely even if they genuinely try to. Don’t we know from our personal relationship experience that they often say silly stuff with no offense intended? We’ve all been through that, why do we think Ashton’s different and speaks the female language fluently? Forgive.

Equality means many things, and the right to speak and be heard is one of them. So men are speaking, and even asking for our feedback: “Can you, Ladies, explain what we are doing wrong?”. Yet, we shutting them up and continue accusing them even when there is little or no merits. It’s become kinda sport…(sigh)

All of us, women, have to understand that if we want to be equal and have a dialogue (not a never ending fight) with the opponent, we MUST listen to them. This is a basic skill for ANY relationship: personal and business. If we want to get the best deal possible, we HAVE to listen to what the other party has to say. Then, we have to hear — not project our internal reality onto them. Both of these skills come with maturity. Let’s show we have them and prove men wrong when they say women deal with hard situations poorly and get too emotional.

Women may think about Ashton as a prick, creep, whatever else. But ignoring the questions he’s asking is not helping to solve the problem. It makes our position weaker, in fact. Treat it as a business situation — you’ll see it differently. After all, there was nothing personal in his questions.

If men say these are the questions they need answers to, for God’s sake, why don’t we just give them the answers? Women may not like these questions, but what is the point of forcing men to ask the ones you like? Isn’t it a must for partners to be honest with each other? Oh yes, we partner with men every day, in case you didn’t notice.

Ladies, we’ve just had another small victory. It’s time to turn on the rational part of our brain, put on the Meryl Streep face and become a legit equal party in this tough negotiation. The whole world is on our side — what else do we need to be confident enough and stop fighting blindly?

I suggest we answer Ashton’s questions as a gesture of good will. We can even all start with: “Ashton, I find your questions so wrong and sexist, yet here’s what I have for you:…”, if it helps us sleep better.

  • What are the Rules for dating in the work place? Flirting?
  • What are the clear red lines?
  • Where does the line between work life and social life stop and start?
  • Given that in the short term we are clearly bound by the existing educated talent pool in STEM, other than promoting STEM education parity going forward, how do we stop gap a solution?
  • Should investors invest in ideas that they believe to have less merit so as to create equality across a portfolio?
  • How do we create channels to promote female entrepreneurship?
  • What advice should we be giving to female entrepreneurs?
  • Are there known mentorship programs for female entrepreneurs?
  • Are there any aggregated or clear pieces of media or educational platforms to help men understand where their blindspots may be?

P.S. In case you didn’t read beyond the first question that made your blood boil. First three questions, in fact, amount to only one question: aka “ How a man can and should behave if he is genuinely attracted to a woman he’s working/doing business with?” (If we don’t answer this question, how do we expect men to find the behavior we think is right?).

From the other seven questions left, the question about ideas with less merit is arguable. But the rest six (the majority) questions were completely ignored by us: we, women, labeled ALL of the questions sexist and called them wrong, even though most of them can lead to a change.

Renata George

Written by

MD @ Zenmen venture fund | If you don't risk anything, you risk even more | VC | Educator | Agent Provocateur | WomenVC Board Member