If you're a woman and you want to launch a tech company, there's a damn good chance you're going to face some moments of abject sexism.
Wired just dropped a long piece on tech's "ugly gender problem." The numbers are obvious: The piece says among venture-backed startups, just 13 percent have a female cofounder. Outright discrimination is hard to prove, but the piece is chock full of infuriating, damning anecdotes like this, from a recent panel:
Shortly after Kathryn Tucker started RedRover, an app that showcases local events for kids, she pitched the idea to an angel investor at a New York tech event. But it didn't go over well. When she finished her pitch, the investor said he didn't invest in women.
When she asked why, he told her. "I don't like the way women think," he said. "They haven't mastered linear thinking." To prove his point, he explained that his wife could never prioritize her to-do lists properly. And then, as if he was trying to compliment her, he told Tucker she was different. "You're more male," he said.
[Please take a moment to collect the bits of brain that just rage-slithered out your ears while reading that. I'll wait.]
Not every entrepreneur has such an explicit, revolting anecdote, and some companies wouldn't deserve a dime if cofounded by Athena. But the drip, drip, drip of stories—often about investors specifically, who wield the power of the paycheck—is disheartening.
One cofounder told of a meeting with a potential investor that got way too personal: "I was sitting with my arm in a blocking position because he was so close." Another founder, a single mom who built a system for divorced couples to handle child support payments, said investors didn't believe she'd done the coding. Yet another complained about being bounced to investors seen as female-friendly: "Why do I have to go to gender-specific investors? Our company is pretty gender agnostic, at this point."
And remember, there are plenty of stories that don't get told: "The most common thing I hear from other women is: 'Oh the stories I'll tell once I'm far enough along that I don't have to worry about being shamed,'" said The Muse cofounder Kathryn Minshew.
Eventually, they all found investors. But it's enough to make a gal wish she could summon the vengeful ghost of Ada Lovelace to flip tables and wreak havoc. Anybody got a Ouija board?
Photo via Ditty_about_summer/Shutterstock.