Offering advice to women in business and female tech entrepreneurs in particular is all the rage. Much of the advice I see falls into the obvious category, and the not-exactly-specific-to-women category. Some of it is even just plain bad advice for anybody. (I don’t recommend that you “trust your intuition” as this piece from Mashable suggests. Whether you’re male, female, or gender non-conformant you should always be testing your hypotheses.)
Because of the dearth of startup advice that is specific to women, I’ve put together the following list:
- Hide the fine China. If you don’t know what I mean by “fine China”, say it five times fast. When attending networking events and startup parties, try to remember to wear underwear. Make sure that the hemline of your skirt is at least three inches past your who-ha. You don’t want to be mistaken for a groupie or a booth babe.
- Don’t sleep with too many people in your local tech community. If you are single and straight, the ratio at startup bangers is in your favor — the odds are good and the goods aren’t all odd. That could be fun, but don’t go overboard. You don’t want people talking about you for the wrong reasons. If you do hook up keep it on the down low.
- Stay away from “investors” who have a reputation for sleeping with women in your local tech community and blabbing about it. I mean this in a literal sense. Stay at least 50 feet away from these guys. And the investing groups they belong to.
- Ignore gender baiting in the press. A certain author I won’t name (rhymes with Trenelope Punk) is notorious for making sweeping generalizations about women in startups. This author often makes unfounded claims that women would rather have babies than run companies or that mixed gender founding teams generally have gotten it on. These types of articles are nothing more than link bait, meant to get a reaction. Don’t link to them. Don’t react at all. Don’t feed the trolls.
- Ignore sexist jerks. Most of the men and women I encounter in startup and tech worlds want to see more women in STEM and in business. But there’s still a vocal minority of sexist jerks. Whether it’s a former president of Harvard who claims that biological differences are the reason for fewer women in STEM or some no-name douchebag who thinks there’s a correlation between the height of your heel and your IQ, I recommend that you ignore. Such statements are a good asshole filter. These people don’t deserve your contributions and there are enough good eggs to work with.
- Ignore asshat advice for women that you don’t need. Finally, I recommend that you ignore asshat advice for women in business. Women are becoming more aggressive professionally, graduating from college more, and closing the wage gap. Young women are, in the parlance of startups, crushin’ it. We don’t need the tidal wave of advice that the Internets have been throwing at us lately. If anything, the torrent of advice and programs for women have become a burden to keep up with. It’s trendy. It’s a good way to get web traffic and book sales for the authors. But there’s little evidence that it makes a difference for women in business.