Female entrepreneurs are very rare. In Israel, for example, less than 3% of all entrepreneurs are female*. Even in high-tech companies that consider themselves modern and progressive, it’s not often that you find women in leadership roles. At Splacer, however, where women make up more than 60% of the management team, I’ve had a tremendous opportunity to get a closer look at what it’s really like working alongside powerful, entrepreneurial women.
After two years of working with Adi Biran and Lihi Gerstner – founding and growing Splacer – I think it’s high time for me to share my thoughts (and bust some myths) about working with women in the startup world.
Myth #1: Women aren’t tough enough to do business
From my experience, Adi and Lihi have been faced with tougher decisions than most men I know. Let’s just say you don’t want to pick a fight with these two…
Myth 2: Women cry, and you cannot do business with people who cry
This one’s only partially true. Yes, sometimes some women’s reaction under stress or pressure is to cry. But on the flip-side, in those same situations, men shout. Now tell me, which would you prefer?
Myth #3: Women prioritize family first, so business falls behind
Men think about raising a family and building a business as a contradiction because their minds simply cannot handle two tasks at once. I’ve learned from Adi and Lihi that it is more than possible to manage both. They’re able to prioritize family, motherhood, and a personal life and they still get the job done, even if it means working harder.
Myth #4: Women who voice their opinions are bossy
This one is simple guys: Stop being chauvinistic. Strong women with opinions do not make you weaker. Disrespecting them and failing to recognize their talent and commitment – does.
Myth #5: The way a female entrepreneur looks is an indication of her ability to succeed as an entrepreneur
The current reality (both dumb and archaic) is that women are judged more on their looks than men, in entrepreneurship and in most areas of business. But the notion that “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is as true of women as it is of men. I know of many highly successful male entrepreneurs who would never (ever) be considered “great looking” (by either gender!).
Working with Adi and Lihi – both of whom look great, by the way – has taught me firsthand that although women are still judged (or more correctly, misjudged) for their looks – looks have absolutely nothing to do with an entrepreneur’s talent and potential to create an amazing company. So, when men dismiss female entrepreneurs or judge their abilities because of a “less than model-like physical appearance”, it’s really them who look stupid, not the potentially huge, female success story standing before them.
Overall, it’s been an eye-opening (and highly recommended!) experience working with female co-founders. It’s given me the opportunity to work in an egoless team where people actually talk and listen to each other. Adi and Lihi continue to impress me with their knack for consistently making the right decisions, making sacrifices when situations call for it, and directing all of their energies towards improving the business. I feel privileged to be in a position to “bust myths” about female entrepreneurs, but I look forward to living in a world where it will no longer be necessary.
* According to an article in Calcalist, March 2017 (NOTE: The linked article is in Hebrew).