We often come across stories in the media and online chat groups about the challenges women face in the tech world and the battles they have to fight. While I deeply respect those stories, I'd like to offer a different perspective – my perspective, which is quite the opposite. I want to highlight the strength of being a woman in a male-dominated industry and how it can be a superpower.
To get to this story, I have to start with my background and how I discovered my superpower as a woman: I am a 4x Founder with 2 exits. All my startups were in the tech space and often in areas that were heavily male-dominated, like AI. Not to mention I started my startup journey at a time when there weren’t many women, especially in AI. So, I had to learn quickly how to navigate these uncharted waters.
Now, I must share that I am not a technical founder - I am not a data scientist or programmer and have no computer science degree to speak of. What I have is business skills. I understand the tech world and I know how to build a business from the ground up. I guess you can call me the business-whisperer.
How did I discover my superpower as a woman?
I owe this to my father. Back in grade school, I'd often come home in tears because the boys wouldn't let me play with them simply because I was a girl. That's when my father took me down to our basement, which he used as his boxing room (yup, he's an ex-boxer), and he shared a valuable life lesson with me, using boxing as the medium (a regular thing in our home). As I punched the boxing bag, my dad told me to never be ashamed of being "just a girl." He made it clear that being a girl should never hold me back from anything I wanted to achieve in life or any career I decided to follow.
He explained that as a woman, I had inherent "superpowers" that I should nurture and enhance over time. These superpowers included:
- Natural ability to connect with others on a deeper level.
- Proficiency in multitasking and the capacity to think ahead for efficient planning.
- Innate aptitude for expressing thoughts and feelings.
- Strength in fostering harmonious work environments as effective team players.
- Valuable intuitive abilities for decision-making and problem-solving.
He taught me that as I grew up, both men and women might attempt to undermine me, belittle my abilities, or withhold opportunities, emphasizing the importance of harnessing my superpowers to learn and grow even stronger.
Thanks to my father, I learned that being a girl and now a woman is a source of strength, not a limitation.
My father continued to guide me throughout my life on how to harness these innate talents as my superpowers, regardless of the situation. These superpowers became instrumental in helping my companies secure funding, especially during times when there was a significant disparity in investment between women and men.
For me, it boiled down to effective communication, negotiation skills, and the ability to stand my ground. I learned to recognize my worth and not let negative comments or exclusion from activities like "drinks with the boys" shake my confidence. Over time, I earned the respect of the men around me.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry is like having a superpower because it brings in diverse perspectives, innovative thinking, and unique problem-solving skills to the forefront. Women tend to shine in areas like collaboration, empathy, and communication, and these qualities are invaluable in any industry.
To make the most of these strengths, start by embracing them. If you're unsure how to do that, don't worry. There's a wealth of free information available in today's world. You can learn just about anything online at no cost. I often recommend starting with YouTube; it's like the best university out there.
Additionally, connect with other women who naturally possess these superpowers. Reach out to them for mentorship, guidance, or simply observe their approach. Never underestimate your own potential based on headlines or stereotypes that suggest "it's harder for women to succeed than men." Don't let those narratives become your reality as your thoughts and focus shape who you become.
Remember, you have the power to shape your own reality, discover your own strengths, and advocate for what you're worth. I know that asking can be challenging for many of us, and it's an area I personally continue to work on. But I'm learning, and every day, I gain more knowledge and face the discomfort of asking for what I need at the moment. You can too.
Let’s not forget, being a woman in a male-dominated environment naturally makes you stand out. You've already captured everyone's attention in the room. Why not leverage that to your advantage?