On the eve of the five-year anniversary of my tech company, GreenCup, a trusted male friend said said something to me that caught me by surprise.
It was two weeks ago, and we were talking about our mutual entrepreneurial work. He’s experiencing some of the systems and processes growth that I have dealt with in my own company. I love building systems (much to the appreciation of my coaching clients), and I’m always happy to pass on what I’ve learned to a friend.
He said he admired me for my work in my tech company. I asked why – to me, it’s just something that I started and grew whenever I saw a time to pivot. He said I was brave for starting a company in an industry that openly hates women.
I was shocked.
And then I thought about it.
He’s right. Wave after wave of news of gender gaps and chauvinism comes from Silicone Valley. Whether it be a woman leaking her salary or a memo leak from Google, the struggle is real, and it’s getting louder.
I’m proud of the women who are fighting the fight. Who risk their careers in order to stand for the greater good.
I never thought of myself that way. I stumbled into it. I was hired into an SEO company as an Executive Assistant. I was promoted to Director because I read book after book about my role within the company, and my boss noticed. When we were bought out and I was laid off, all I did was use what I knew to start my own company.
I wasn’t prepared for the gender discrimination I would face. I was surprised when I walked into a meeting as a CEO and walked out being thought of as a Secretary. I was shocked when several clients made comments on my new Developer’s looks rather than welcome her to the company.
Looking back, I can’t believe I was surprised.
I had a stalker when I was 16. He was an older man and he would come to my work every day. I was a Concessionist at a local theater, and there wasn’t anywhere to hide. I had been nice to him. Once. That was all the encouragement it took.
At age 12 I was told I would be gutted like a fish by the best friend of the boy I liked because a girlfriend might disrupt their friendship.
I get cat called and whistled at even when I walk in my own neighborhood dressed androgynously.
And, yes, I’ve felt pressured to ‘perform’ as the sex object women are promoted to be.
Today, I’m not surprised by my Facebook feed. I am damn proud of everyone who took a stand, told their stories, and refused to be quiet anymore. Thank you for your visibility.