Why Female Founders Will Outlast the Men
Tracy Chou says being sexually harassed, threatened, and stalked has been her entrepreneurial endurance training
I recently hit an 11.5-mile rocky trail run through the desert, up 1,600 feet of elevation gain. As I traversed through unknown terrain, up rocky inclines and through dried-out river washes, my feet slipping through the sand and gravel, one thought kept drifting through my mind. A mile on this run is so much harder than a mile on one of those synthetic rubber tracks, but damn, am I feeling so much stronger and more powerful. It felt a lot like my experience building my startup.
It also reminded me of a cartoon I once saw in a diversity and inclusion workshop. Two runners are positioned at the starting line of a race. One is in his running uniform and cleats, sprint position, ready to tear down a smooth track lane. The other doesn’t have on proper athletic gear and is looking down a torn-up path, obstacles in her way.
Tell me, is it fair to compare their mile times?
I feel like I’m doing the miserably tough trail running version of the startup founder race. Of course, startups are always hard. But I’m a solo female founder, working on a problem that most of the gatekeepers of capital and power neither understand nor empathize with. I’m an activist trying my utmost to dismantle those systems of bias and privilege that have elevated them and kept them floating in those roles.
As a competent and experienced software engineer, I also threaten some people’s notions of what a woman in tech might be capable of. Anticipating the reply guys who’ll come along to tell me it’s unbecoming of me to be sure of my worth, I will not enumerate all the ways in which I am outrageously better than most of my peers and yet still am treated with far less respect or even outright disrespect.
I’m a solo female founder, working on a problem that most of the gatekeepers of capital and power neither understand nor empathize with.
I have been sexually harassed during fundraising. I have had different investors inquire about my age and relationship status and…