We’ve been focusing on women founders in the Brooklyn tech world recently, and as part of that, we wanted to listen to what they thought about the coverage they see in this publication and in the press generally about women in tech.
It’s been a year that seems to have been especially filled with the struggle for the equality of women in the tech workplace, with media coverage moving the needle at companies from Uber to Google and beyond.
Last week we featured 12 women founders in Brooklyn you should know. Following the publication of that piece, we asked them for their thoughts on the coverage of women in tech. Here’s what they said:
Isis Shiffer, founder of Spitfire Industry and creator of the EcoHelmet
I don’t tend to like “women in tech” stories because I want to be recognized for the work I do, not who I am. But of course there is a noticeable gender imbalance in design and tech (I was at a conference recently and looking over the sea of dude haircuts — only a few of which had women under them — was demoralizing).
I think what I’d like to see is a focus on locating and covering woman-owned/run tech and design companies without necessarily leading with the gender of the person in question — unless she specifically wants to talk about it of course. I want to see great work by women covered as just great work — putting it in a separate category does us a disservice in a way, as it switches the focus to the person and away from whatever she’s working on. This does kind of put the onus on writers to find more women out there, but I think that’s fair.
Nisha Garigarn, cofounder of Croissant
I love hearing about badass women in super male-dominated niches like blockchain, what they’re working on and why, their stories and advice.
I’d like to know who are the investors in NYC who are actively investing in women founders (not just saying they are, but actually practicing what they preach and have the stats to back it up)? What do the founders have to say about them? These types of stats would be interesting to me as a female founder especially if I were seeking funding.
I’d also be interested in which tech companies hiring in NYC have top-notch benefits for women.
Ali Kriegsman, cofounder of Bulletin
Often, Bulletin gets pegged as a “retail” or “fashion” company. Yes, we open up retail stores, and in some cases, we sell apparel — but no journalist ever has covered Bulletin as a real estate company. Our rent-share model is no different than WeWork’s. WeWork, from the beginning, was framed as a “real estate” company and not just a “cool office space” company. It’s interesting to me that we’ve been pigeon-holed as revolutionizing retail, but not revolutionizing retail as it relates to real estate. I feel like this happens to a lot of female founders. I remember hearing other female founders complain that their companies were lauded in the press for launching an epic new beauty or fashion brand, or changing the way women discover product or get dressed or what have you. But more often than not, there is strong, proprietary tech behind all of these wonderful companies, and I’ve sensed that few journalists/media properties look under the hood and cover that part of the story.
In that vein, I feel like many outlets publish stories around women launching companies FOR women: clothing companies, new beauty brands, retail stores, wellness companies. But especially in doing Y Combinator, I noticed how many incredible female founders were making B2B products or enterprise software or consumer software/apps or building other technical, gender-agnostic companies.
Aneri Shah, cofounder of Sightworthy
I think the thing that happens sometimes when people write about women in tech is they focus more on the fact that she’s a woman rather than what she has accomplished with her business or in her role as an executive. I would love to see a more even split.
I also get the feeling that people automatically assume female founders are risk averse, aka “thinking small,” something that male founders don’t seem to face as often, if ever. I would love profiles of companies led by women that are blowing up to start changing that perception. I mean, look at Spanxx! Just because a company is creating something that services primarily women, doesn’t mean it won’t blow up. We’re more than half the population, and as we make more money and have more purchasing power, we matter.
Zuley Clarke, cofounder of Sightworthy
I’d love to see more profile stories about the women behind successful businesses outside of the big two (Sheryl [Sandberg] and Marissa [Mayer]). For example, Donna Levin (co-founder of Care.com), Melanie Perkins (co-founder of Canva), and Rashmi Sinha (co-founder of SlideShare) are just some examples of women who started very successful tech businesses and I wish more people knew about them.