In Response to Penelope Trunk's Why Startup's Shouldn't Hire Women

August 4, 2011

A few months ago, a Good Angel blog post had women (and men) up in arms when Paige Craig admitted that he had reservations about investing in a company co-founded by a then pregnant Jessica Jackley.  Her response echoed the outcry of women across the world, questioning why a woman can't add Mother to her existing titles of Co-Founder and CEO.


Today, those women's voices rose again in response to Penelope Trunk's BNET article provocatively titled Male Founders: Want to Kill Your Startup's Chances? Hire a Woman, which has in the last few hours already been retitled to the less controversial, Are Startups Better as Single-Gendered Affairs?

But, the subject matter still remains.  Penelope argues that women can't cut it in the start-up world because we're a sexual distraction, start-ups need focus and women bring too much diversity, and...we cry at work.  Instead, she suggests in another blog post that men should start companies in sweatshops filled with other 20-something men and women should spend their late 20's looking for mates and having children. 


As a 5 month pregnant CEO and Co-Founder of a funded start-up, I blew off her comments as inflammatory press intended simply to make me visit BNET.  But after reading a few of Penelope's other blogs, including yesterday's discussion on her marriage and inability to find work, I realized that what Penelope has really done is simply put pen to paper for that little voice in the back of our mind (aka the Lizard Brain) that keeps us all from achieving our goals and our true purpose.


It's that voice of fear that makes us question whether we can, in fact, be good mothers and good CEO's, whether we can find time to meet the man of our dreams and still come up with killer ideas for growth,  whether we can work 75 hours a week and still find time to be a maid of honor to our best friend from elementary school.   What separates successful entrepreneurs from everyone else is that we hear those cries and we meet them head on, proving to ourselves and to others that we have what it takes to move forward.


Of course we doubt ourselves.  Guys do, too.  How many serial male entrepreneurs say it was easy being there for their wives and children when they were plugging away at their third start-up, double mortgaging their homes, praying that they would have the cash to cover the next payroll?


The reality is that the journey of an entrepreneur is hard, it's time consuming, it's stressful, and it's the most incredible experience of one's life. It is the act of creating something out of nothing that provides value.  Why would anyone deny women that opportunity?  And why, Penelope, would you feed that little voice in people's heads when it's already so powerful?