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Being Pigeonholed as a Woman Tech Entrepreneur and Taking Action

We play many roles in our lives. I’m a sister, daughter, aunt, friend, girlfriend, entrepreneur, blogger, runner, chocolate lover and the list goes on and on.

Sometimes, certain roles are emphasized over others which is subjectively deemed acceptable or unacceptable depending on our aversion to the matter. For example, I used to be an avid poker player. I would not have liked it if someone had told me I had a gambling problem.

These days, I’m feeling more and more focus being put on my “entrepreneur” role, specifically being a woman tech entrepreneur. I don’t have the exact number on how many tech CEOs are women off-hand (the last number I heard was 8%, would love a reference here). I understand the attention and concern surrounding the issue. There are advantages and disadvantages of course.

One of the biggest disadvantages is how people have been pigeonholing me as a woman tech entrepreneur vs. tech entrepreneur. I don’t want to be recognized as a woman entrepreneur when I first meet someone. I’m constantly being asked about my opinion on the men/women disparity, how I feel about an idea like XX Combinator, what I think of the latest TechCrunch article, etc. These questions annoy me and they get old after a while. So have all the coverage on the issue on how to raise more awareness. It’s not that I mind more exposure, I certainly don’t. It’s that I’d prefer ACTION to WORDS. This tweet below sums up my opinion perfectly.

To circle to the advantages side, I’m feeling the need to be one of the role models for the “cause” and certain opportunities have risen as a result. One of which is to be a part of an organization called TechGirlz. As you’ll see on the site, the goal is to “empower [middle-school] girls to be future technology leaders.” I wish there had been something like this when I was younger. You may have heard me talk about presenting at their first event this past September where I debunked common misconceptions about the tech space and showed the variety of roles available in the sector (Slideshare presentation is below).

There are currently opportunities to make a difference in getting more girls in technology. These positions are not exclusive to women either, TechGirlz has men volunteers as well. Our goal this year is to hold nine events ranging from using WordPress to programming. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Tracey Welson-Rossman, the brainchild behind the organization and an all-around awesome person at info@techgirlz.org.

We’re also looking into bringing an organization like GirlDevelopIT to Philadelphia. Great name, isn’t it? Hopefully, we’ll have more news on that front soon.

I’d love for one day to meet someone at a networking event without him/her assuming I’m an employee at my company or to be asked the now dreaded “how’s it feel to be a female tech CEO?”