I wish being a female entrepreneur were no different than being a man. But the truth of the matter is being a woman in the work force has challenges. Every day I read a new story about unequal pay or unpaid maternity leave or sexual harassment. I have encountered each of these things at different times in my career and they can make you want to give up.
But I didn't, and neither should you. Here’s what I have learned over the course of my career about fighting through problems we women face. I hope some of it is helpful.
1. Look forward, not back
Part of being an entrepreneur is being an innovator. So I encourage women to be the unstoppable force that makes the future what you want it to be. Pursue your passion and don't get deterred if it is in a historically male-dominated field. I was told early in my career that there aren’t many women executives in the entertainment industry, and that only made me want to move forward more. I knew merging entertainment and tech was the future, so I buckled down to learn everything I could about tech. Don’t wait for evolution, just evolve.
2. Lead by example
Women can undermine other women and it’s just ridiculous. There are enough challenges in the day-to-day of running a business. There’s no race to win here that can’t be won with another woman by your side. The senior staff at my company has a 50/50 male-to-female ratio. (You know, like the world). Why is this revolutionary?
My co-worker Deeksha (that's her on the left in the picture above) and I support each other 1,000%. We are both workaholics and working moms, which oddly makes us extremely good at managing our time. We don't have a choice -- we are juggling a lot! Beyond hiring and mentoring a team of talented young women and men, we are building a culture where people can thrive regardless of their sex. When we discuss maternity leave, paternity leave is also discussed. We lead with the philosophy that equality and inclusiveness are the key factors in the success of our business.
3. Own being a mother (if you choose to be one)
“Women have babies, their brains don’t break,” I have said on many an occasion. I have three children. They are a fact, not an illusion. Though I am not the type to have pictures of my kids on my desk, they are a part of my life and who I am. Being a mother has also made me a better marketer. I understand the challenges of having kids and I know how to sell something to a mom. Mothers often choose what to buy in a household and who knows more about what steers those choices better than another mother? We get each other as no one else can.
4. Know your worth
I get the call when my female friends are negotiating their contracts because I am never afraid to talk about money. Culturally, (I have no idea why this is still this case, but it is), women don’t like to discuss salary. I don't get this. You go to work to make money, right? So why wouldn’t you want to ask for the money you need to live and thrive?
Beyond money, know what else you value. I value time, and so I negotiated working one day a week from home. Normally I have an hour commute each way, and having those lost two hours back is priceless. Skipping the commute enables me to a day of total focus on projects I need to bang out. A change of scenery opens up my creativity, and I relish having the freedom to work from my local coffee shop or write presentations at home in my pajamas.
5. Support your sisters
Though my mentors are mainly men, I seek out young women with talent to help them in any way I can. I’ll make introductions for them, look at their resumes, coach them on their next career move. But the most important thing I can ever do for a young woman is to believe in her. I want to build up the next generation of women leaders so that my daughter never needs to read or write an article like this.
The final takeaway I leave you with is not a piece of advice, but more of a statement. I enjoy being a girl. I am proud to be a woman and mother and mentor and work at a startup. Simply put, I like wearing dresses and kicking ass in the boardroom.