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Women And Entrepreneurship: My Statement

Posted on Sunday, Oct 10th 2010

The topic of women and entrepreneurship has been getting a lot of attention of late. Vivek Wadhwa has been leading the charge from TechCrunch. Yesterday, I read an article by Penelope Trunk on TechCrunch that argues that you cannot be an entrepreneur and bear and raise children, have a successful relationship, and have a balanced life.

I generally avoid commenting on this issue, but Vivek has often egged me on to say things, at least in private discussions. Vivek is a good friend, and I believe that he is trying to do something meaningful to help move this debate forward.

So, today, I am going to say a few things on the topic.

First, this is a very complex issue. Each woman needs to make her own choice, and it is no use saying things like “You should have children” or “You should be an entrepreneur” or “You should have children and be an entrepreneur.”

The choice is personal. Individual. It needs to meet the needs of the “person.”

I have often invited women to the Entrepreneur Journeys series and asked them to share their perspectives on the topic. Let’s revisit what some of them have said.

In my conversation with Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, we discussed the issue of identity crisis:

SM: I am personally, philosophically, against people staying home as moms because I think it leads to a huge identity crisis. It sounds like what you are doing is mitigating some of that. There is a book on the bestseller list right now called ‘In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms’. I was cringing when I saw that. [Dr. Laura Schlessinger], who wrote that book, is the top women-focused talk show host on the radio.

SS: It is really a challenge. I always try not to be a judgmental person. I can’t be in everyone’s shoes. The statement that it is best for women to stay at home is something that is just not possible for many families, particularly now. I do have friends who have chosen to stay at home with their kids. I know that they struggle with it.

SM: What do they struggle with?

SS: Giving up their adult identity, the ability to interact with other adults on an intellectual, problem-solving level. You are certainly working with your spouse on a daily basis dealing with your kids. You are certainly working with your kids on a daily basis to solve problems. However, you are missing a part of yourself that is constantly challenged. I have friends who say they have not used sentences with more than four syllables all day long. I really think it takes a toll on your brain and certainly on your identity. For me, being a professional woman is not just about being a professional woman. It is about making a greater contribution to society and being a part of the working world.

You can read Sara’s interview to get more of a sense of how she has applied her creativity to come up with a solution to the juggling mothers problem.

In addition, Julia Hartz, cofounder of Eventbrite, discusses the role her husband has played in her career as an entrepreneur.

And Therese Tucker, CEO of BlackLine Systems, talks about how she screwed up her marriage by trying to juggle her startup and her children, but she has remarried her husband and got the balance back. It’s a moving story of a remarkable woman.

Finally, Judy Estrin, one of the most successful and widely admired women in technology, and a through and through serial entrepreneur, says:

SM: I have never even thought of myself as a woman. I have thought of myself first as an entrepreneur and a professional.

JE: I thought of myself as a technologist first. When I became a leader and manager I thought of myself as a business person first and a woman second. Now when I meet young women I will go out of my way to help them, but that was never my cause. Some of that is because my mother was a very strong feminist. When I went into the workplace I probably downplayed that part because I watched my mother so actively. In her generation she had to be in order to get where she was.

Judy and her ex-husband, Bill Carrico, have founded seven companies together, including Bridge Communications, which was the essential piece in the rejuvenation of 3Com, a story you have also read here in my interview with Eric Benhamou.

All four women are successful entrepreneurs, and all of them have children. They have each figured out ways to manage the process, and each has struggled.

But they have not failed.

I saw my friend Marylene Delbourg-Delphis at a dinner party last night and spoke with her briefly on the topic. Marylene has also raised a child – Sophie, an immensely talented budding opera singer – and has had a successful career as an entrepreneur. She writes the blog Grade A Entrepreneurs, and she has a passion for the Women and Entrepreneurship issue, as well as the artist as an entrepreneur topic.

As for my own experience, I have chosen not to have children. I like the freedom and control I have over my time. My husband and I love to travel, and we share a variety of other passions including the arts, cuisine, and culture. I am balancing an entrepreneurial career, a writing career, and I still make time to dance, something that has remained important to me throughout my life.

You see, there are several key factors that we balance in this equation of life: our personal needs, a relationship, a career, and children. It is not easy to balance all of these needs, so each of us does our best to tailor a life that fits our particular priorities. For me, freedom and control over my time came out well ahead of having children. In fact, as I ordered the various items, my entrepreneurial career, my writing career, my relationship, my personal needs, my parents, friends, and extended family in India, my husband’s family and friends in Europe, our passion for travel, cooking, arts, my need to dance – all of that came out well ahead of children and the loss of freedom that entails.

I accepted, in my mid-thirties, that I will not be able to do it all, and the trade-offs I would have to make to have children are not worth my while.

Some people will tell you that you are not a complete woman if you don’t have children. I have heard this many times.

I think it is bullshit.

So, my message to women who are trying to get your arms around this issue: Do what works for you. Have the courage and the conviction to ignore the peer pressure that will definitely come your way.

Be yourself, be authentic, be who you truly are.

The rest will sort itself out.

PS: Vivek has a new post on the topic on TechCrunch: Men and Women Entrepreneurs: Not That Different. I agree. Here’s a video I did for Women 2.0 a while back, saying the same thing. Bottom line, the rules are the same whether you are a woman entrepreneur or a man. So if you really want to be successful, focus on learning the rules of the entrepreneurship game. If you are interested, try the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) program through which I have pledged to help a million entrepreneurs reach a million dollars in annual revenue by 2020.

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There is no single answer to this question: it's a matter of choice. For some women, motherhood most fulfilling; for others, adult interaction and a career are necessities. And for others…we do want it all! –continued

Ruth_Danielson Monday, January 17, 2011 at 10:59 PM PT

..continued
I founded a marketing & PR agency after I was laid off from a high-tech PR firm following 9/11. I was a divorced mom with a 13 y/o daughter and had just bought my first home. I didn't want to go back to work for someone else, so I focused on establishing and promoting my agency. I packed my life with everything that I was passionate about: mountain biking, co-parenting my daughter, maintaining relationhips with friends, family and my romantic partner. My daughter and I ate home-cooked meals every day; I made her school lunches all the way through her senior year.

My agency, Mulberry Street Market Intelligence has served over 50 clients including Microsoft, Toyota Financial Services, Bostitch, the Hewlett Foundation, Better Place, and dozens of others in every industry you can name. We've won multiple "best place to work" awards. I remain an active community volunteer, am physically active, enjoy frequent tracel, writing and make lots of quiet time for myself. Yes, gals, we can and should do it all – but we each have to define what "all" means to us!

Ruth_Danielson Monday, January 17, 2011 at 10:59 PM PT

My road toward achieving professional and personal success is one that many would classify as “less traveled”. My life has consisted of founding and running a marketing company in the fiercely competitive tech industry for the past 16 years with nearly 20 employees, that recently weathered and emerged stronger after a tough recession, being Mom to four children between the ages of 8 and 16 (until recently, as a single Mom), and caring for my elderly mother as a resident in our home. The combination of these elements are what drive me forward, keep me thinking one step ahead, and are what I use to define success and derive happiness.

It was never a conscious decision to do one or the other, being a mom and an entrepreneur is who I am. The independence associated with being an entrepreneur provides me with the flexibility I need to support the chaotic needs of a busy household. From which, I’m able to draw strength and gain clarity on what my goals are. I’ve made my share of mistakes and had enough successes to be happy. Happiness to me is ending a day that includes more smiles than frowns, connecting with people in a meaningful way, and eating dinner with my family. I encourage my older kids to come in and help our business by running errands and interacting with our team on a professional level. Their learning in a work environment is exciting and I get to watch as they honestly earn a paycheck from a hard-driving “mom” boss. That same Mom is the one who can still be silly, give them competition on the tennis court, and lend an ear at the end of the day. I know at the deepest level that this unique (and sometimes hectic) lifestyle choice as a mother and an entrepreneur is right for me and for my family – and there’s no greater validation than that.

My advice to other young professionals (men and women) is to do what you love – and life will be amazing. I explain to anyone conflicted about their dual roles that fulfillment is both helping your child learn to read and helping a client navigate the difficult roads to success. Success is defined uniquely and only by each individual. If I can pass on one thing, it would be this: you can do it all. The “do it all” mantra means surviving everyday life challenges, summoning the energy to pursue your dreams and above all, appreciating and learning from the successes (no matter how small) and failures (however big they may seem) along the way.

Susan Thomas Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:48 AM PT

Very well said and I agree whole heartedly. I am also a mom and entrepreneur for the past 20 years, running a medical practice and recently starting a weight loss center. Being an entrepreneur has enabled me to balance my passions – both as a mother and as a businesswoman. The two do not have to be exclusive of one another and in fact, being an entrepreneur allows you to bring your family into your "working life" and draw strength from both areas. I do agree that the most important thing is to follow your heart and your passion and set your own course – there is no template for working and raising children and you have to set your own path and believe in what you are doing. Yes there are costs to every choice but if you make the choices, the benefits outweigh the costs!

Dr. Deb Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 8:49 PM PT

I also saw your pitch at HARO and of course I am writing because I am a woman and an entrepreneur. I am running a start-up adventure travel business called LittlePo Adventures (http://www.littlepo.com), which take people to enjoy the outdoors and cultures in China and Taiwan. I personally don't feel it's that different to be a woman even though I seem to be in a man-dominating community for the most part: first computer engineering, then mountaineering and rock climbing. However, I do have an intense relationship with my mom. My mom is a typical "Chinese Mom" (the definition of this term can be well described in Amy Chua's new book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." And from my mom's point of view, an outdoor career is not a real job and what I am doing is not a woman should do. Soon after I launched my business my mom wanted me to quit and find a more stable job especially I have a PhD in computer science. Finally we both settled and I promised her that if I can't make some amount of revenue and then I'll give up my outdoor pursuit and not be an entrepreneur anymore. That was very a very stressful experience for me. I love my mom dearly; however, I minimize my contact with her. I know that I am escaping from reality but I haven't figured out a better way.

Luckily my friends and colleague and other family members are fairly supportive and I do enjoy what I am doing. The participants of the trips I guide all say positive things about the company. I feel that I'm really living my life!

Szu-ting Yi Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 3:12 PM PT

I am a mom of twins and sole founder of http://www.Swayable.com a web and iphone application startup to give and get opinions online or on the go. I also co-own a Marketing Project Management company. it's challenging managing all of the roles I play (Mom, Wife, Business partner, Sole Founder) however I wouldn't have it any other day. Being an entrepreneur isn't something I chose, it's part of who I am and is ingrained in me.

Lindsey Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 3:38 PM PT

Balance? Pshaw.
I am a divorced, single mother of 3 boys, ages 8 to 15. After my divorce, I went back to school and now run a private therapy practice and teach parenting classes. One day, I was lamenting to my parenting mentor that I didn't feel balanced… I felt like I could never feel caught up with anything. She quietly, warmly looked me and asked, "Kerry, is that a reasonable expectation?" I laughed. No, actually, it's probably not reasonable to think that I can parent well, run a business, run a household, have family and friends, keep my mind and body healthy, AND feel relaxed and "caught up." Oh, and shall we throw dating in there as well? And a nice yard? And holidays and birthdays?

Now, instead of striving for calmness and feeling caught up, I strive for bits of peace and quiet in my mind here, moments of joy and laughter there. At the end of the day, if work stuff hasn't been done and my kids are home, I choose motherhood. Work has to wait. It will not grow up and move away like my kids will! Sure, opportunities may pass me by, but I'm betting that I won't have heartbreaking regret over missing work opps like I could end up regret missing being there for my kids.

So, I'll take this state of being out of balance. I find my moments. I find my weekends. I do what I can. I giggle with my kids. I know that there will be a quieter chapter in my life when I might be able to feel "caught up." But by then, I might be missing having my house be noisy and messy and full of kids. So here and now, in this moment, I do what I can to keep my sanity and sense of humor. I pull over in my car and listen to a great song while I drink coffee and enjoy a good view of the Colorado Rockies. I go to the gym with girlfriends at an insanely early hour. I cherish the coffees with friends and the weekend mornings before my kids wake up. It's not perfect. It's not balanced. But it's good enough.

Kerry Stutzman Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 3:39 PM PT

I have to say that no one can do it all, not women or men, being a realist is what will keep you from beating yourself up. You have to say no sometimes, to friends, sometimes to clients and even sometimes to family. Once you reconcile within yourself that you're ok with the way things are going and the ones you love most second that, everything else will fall into place. I've seen it with my company: http://www.virtualworkteam.com and those of my clients. Here's wishing everyone a fabulous journey in accomplishing their dreams!

Shilonda Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 4:33 PM PT

Formerly a Trademark Attorney, I became inactive with the bar and started a home-based business handcrafting mineral makeup and natural skincare in 2004. Iwas in my late 30's when founding http://www.zosimosbotanicals.com and have two elementary school children. With so much uncertainty in the job market today, I am thrilled not to have to worry about losing my job. Working at home allows me to get things done online at odd hours and still have family time. A monthly visit from a business coach helps me keep on track and create goals. Balance has been achieved from deciding not to move my growing studio out of the home, and refusing to supply larget stores that may make my work/life quality decrease.

Linda Stein Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 5:48 PM PT

After a high powered job as a marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies (Microsoft, Disney, AOL, etc) I had 2 children a bit later in life (40's) and after the blur of those first baby years I picked my head up out of the dust and felt completely lost, angry and resentful. But that was a great thing in the end – when one door closes, another opens – because dealing with my emotions kicked off a existential crisis within that made me realise that I wanted to do something constructive with the second half of my professional life. So I took stock at what I wanted to give and to get from my work life. And in doing so I found that helping small businesses with the learnings I had from my past life was actually much more fulfilling. But I also wanted to control and determine my lifestyle – I wanted to spend time with my children and other pursuits. Could I really have it all? So I set up with a fellow mother partner a business to help small businesses that can't afford marketing (www.amyfoxwell.com), wrote a book (http://amyfoxwell.com/win-win-marketing-the-book/), and launched a revolutionary site to help restaurant owners (my husband is a chef) by doing their marketing for them (www.winwinrestaurantmarketing.com). Well, I think I have managed to at least have most of what I want; time with my children, support for the small business community and an intellectual challenge that keeps me going. In the end, I have learned that the secret to having it all, is knowing what you want and then taking the responsibility to create that life.

Amy Foxwell Friday, January 21, 2011 at 1:39 AM PT

Your question on HARO – can woman do it all – is a good one. I think we are amazing creatures in the amount we can handle and are willing to handle. I am slowly trying to build my business and it's never easy because I don't like to hire too many outside people. I did that at one point and when the economy dropped the end result is much worse when you have employees to support.

Diana De Rosa Friday, January 21, 2011 at 5:59 AM PT

I am a mom of 2. I work 30 hours a week for a major car rental company. Three years ago I started a custom design invitation business – RSVP Custom Creations. My major focus was Ebay, which then lead into creating my own website. I have now ventured with my husband and created an online wedding marketplace called Wedding Bliss Lane. It has been live for about 3 months. From 8:30 am – 4 pm I am working at my Part Time job, then from 4-8 it is time with the kids. Then 8-12 I work on my invitations and wedding marketplace site. There comes a time though when you need to intervene and shut the computer off! And my kids let me know it. Weekends we all regroup together (sports, go out to dinner, etc). My daughter is so aware of what I do that she "designs" invitation as well. She creates them to give to her teachers! So your kids are very observant and know what you do. My saving grace is I love being busy, I need to be always doing something, and I am very good at multi-tasking. But when you son asks you to play WII with him, you know its time for a break!

Jackie Asta Friday, January 21, 2011 at 6:37 AM PT

I believe that a female entrepreneur can have it all….if ALL is what she wants. As I scan the list of comments above I have to wonder if one considers what that means to them. Truly. At the heart – free from the expectations of society and family influence. A question I ask just about every female entrepreneur I know is "what will truly make you happy in life?" It's a question that I ask myself as well. What is the balance? That special formula, secret sauce that lights me up and says "yes, this is the life I want to live". Coming from a traditional italian family – the choice not to have children was not the only rule I had to break. I had to break the belief that a woman should not be smart and educated as well. I had to know in my heart that if I made more money that not all men would be threatened by me. And after being successful in the corporate arena working in Fortune 500 companies when I decided to be an entrepreneur I had to overcome others beliefs around security and being a woman. The decision to have or not to have children is only 1 of the underlying questions and challenges women face on their road to success….and entrepreneurialism.

Other factors in having and DOING it all is that we have to learn to delegate more, empower others to handle different aspects of our businesses and lives. We may want it ALL but we cannot do it all.

When I wrote my Amazon best selling book more than a year ago I needed someone to help guide me through the process. I hired and expert. During that period I had to delegate to and expand my support team so the business would continue to run while I poured my heart and soul into it. When it was going to launch, realizing that I am not a marketing guru, hired another professional to orchestrate it.

I realized these were critical examples of needed to have others be more part of the process. Because after realizing within the first 18 months the business was born that I had merely traded 1 office and career of non-stop work and insane deadlines for another devoid of enough personal connection to others I had to reassess. "What makes me happy?" All the trappings of what I should and should not have/do/want needed to fall away and I simplified my life. I chose to bookend my days so I could rest. I decided to plan 2-3 vacations a year because I will always be a "gypsy" of sorts. While I travel for business travel for pleasure is a completely different and essential ingredient in my balance equation. I chose to spend time with my significant other rather than fill my evenings with networking meetings. But most importantly, I had to hire the staff necessary for all of this to happen. I still work hard but I have boundaries around my work life and refuse to give up my private life – after all part of the reason I became an entrepreneur was to enjoy my life and not be working and living out of a suitcase all the time.

Maria Gamb
Mentor to Emerging Leaders in Business
Amazon Best Selling Author of "Healing The Corporate World" http://www.MariaGamb.com / http://www.HealingTheCorporateWorld.com

mariagamb Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7:42 AM PT

I can say that I did not become an entrepreneur until I was a stay at home mom. I wanted to stay at home with my children, but I also wanted to earn some income and help others in the process. I chose starting my own seasonal consignment sale. It was the perfect fit for my family. I "work" about 200 hours per event I host and I do that twice a year. Most of my work is via the internet and I can do it any time of the day, when my kids nap, etc.

Now that my kids are in school, I really find myself thankful that I have this business because finding a job that allows me to be flexible with the school schedule is incredibly difficult (snow days, teacher work days, federal holidays, 9-2 schedule, etc). I worry that I would not make a good "employee" because having kids has really made me understand that I need to be more flexible and not able to stick to a rigid schedule.

We have had several entrepreneurial endeavors as a family and I can say that the typical brick and mortar type business, was not a good fit for our family. In fact, as an entrepreneur and mother, something more flexible and seasonal was what fit best for us.

I think that each family is different, each woman is different and each entrepreneurial endeavor is different. It is important to find something that you are passionate about that fits with the woman's talents in addition to the goals of the family. I feel like I have it all, but then again, I only "work" at my business a couple of times a year and the rest of the time I am a stay at home mom, which is my ultimate goal right now, in this season of my family's life.

Jenifer Gifford Friday, January 21, 2011 at 8:50 AM PT

The dilemma for highly motivated female entrepreneurs is less 'Can I do it all (run a startup business and have a family)' which I say resoundingly, 'Yes, you can – you go, Girl!' and more 'At what point in my life can I afford to dedicate the level of attention, energy and leadership to building a company, while raising my kids and spending time with my family?' If you look at the numerous examples of highly successful women in many professions, from tech entrepreneurs to lawyers to politicians, from Meg Whitman, Carol Bartz, Sandra Day O'Connor, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, all of whom have married, had children, and risen to the top of their professions, they all sequenced their lives and had children first, then focused on their professional lives and rose to greater heights of success as they were older. I've followed that path, have two wonderful kids, a supportive family, and run a startup software company. You can have it all, just not necessarily all at the same time.

Diana Hage Friday, January 21, 2011 at 10:55 AM PT

I saw your HARO and thought I'd share my insight. I don't have a family yet, but I know that I could never put aside running my business. I currently work for a start up (http://www.contentfac.com) doing public relations, as well as running my own small fiber arts business. It can be challenging juggling these things (plus a day job).I agree with mariagmb above that it's important to know what would make you happy. I would never be happy if I wasn't productive, so right now, I find balance through my work.

Jasmine Friday, January 21, 2011 at 12:29 PM PT

I am Kate from Chicago, and have a social enterprise Mayu (www.shopmayu.com) that sells one-of-a-kind, hand-knit alpaca accessories produced by artisans in rural Peru. I started the company following my time in the Peace Corps, because I felt in love with the artisans and their amazing skills, and decided of continuing to support them upon ending my service in Peru. The Mayu product line includes luxurious clothing made with the highest quality pure, eco-friendly alpaca fiber. The company is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation and we have a direct relationship with the knitters. Through Mayu, the artisans have been given the opportunity to earn fair wages and become more independent while doing what they both enjoy and excel in – knitting.

I have spent many years forming a business relationship, and more importantly, friendships with our artisans. This business has been mutually beneficial. The artisans have been taught valuable business skills and are earning fair wages, while still being able to be with their children. They have given us a stronger awareness of struggles women have in developing countries to provide for their families, thus feeding our passion to keep Mayu growing and growing.

You can find a bit more about the business at http://www.shopmayu.com/about-fair-trade-alpaca-p… and at my blog: http://www.shopmayu.com/blog/

Kate Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 10:45 PM PT

Hi Sramana –

Interesting question: Can you do it all: juggle a business, family and all of that comes with it?
My answer is Yes, you CAN do it all, you just can’t do it all by yourself. I am the Founder and CEO of Ombrella Inc., a project management and consulting company in the Seattle area. We work with Fortune 500 technology companies and government clients on demanding projects. Through hard work and business moxie we’ve been able to grow the company to include dozens of employees and more than $12.5 million in revenues over the last seven years.

For me, it has never been a question of can you do it all – my personal ambition and drive never let me think I would be anything but a success. But what I learned later in my career is that in order to do it all you have to ask for help. In addition to being an entrepreneur, I am a mother of two college-age daughters and work passionately on behalf of economic opportunity for women in technology. Here’s what I learned from being a single parent, business owner and advocate:
To be continued in next post…

Laurie Simon Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 1:43 PM PT

*You have to ask for help, and you need to clearly communicate what you need help with, how long you need it and what you expect the outcome to be. When I was raising two kids alone, I asked my family for help but first went to them with a plan for support while I went to job training and college, and a specific timetable for how long that would last. *Realize that you are not great at everything and find the right people to fill those gaps. For me, finances have been challenging. Spreadsheets and a list of numbers are of no value to me. But I have found financial resources that are good at organizing the information into four categories that make sense to me and from which I am able to make decisions.
Two last points…

Laurie Simon Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 1:51 PM PT

*Get outside your business in order to maintain balance. Otherwise you will burn out. Today, I am out of the office at least one day a week, so I have time to clear my head and keep the ideas flowing. Activities like boating, painting, surfing, or motorcycle riding may appear to be “play” on the surface, but that’s when I find I have my best ideas and am the most creative and dream up the next level of products and services that will grow the firm. *Find a way to integrate your passion into your work in order to continuously challenge yourself. My driving force is to create a business model that supports women in technology and creates opportunities for women to earn money and build a safe and stable home for their families. In my role in Women Impacting Public Policy, I have helped increase the number of women-owned businesses registered for federal contracts and specific set-asides for women-owned businesses to compete for federal jobs. This overarching goal helps me look back and reflect not only on work, but the impact of the work and example I hope to set for other women.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Laurie Simon, Founder and CEO of Ombrella Inc.

Laurie Simon Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 1:53 PM PT

This is very possibly old news, but I thought its a great venue to share Sheryl Sandberg's (COO of Facebook) 'women leaders' speech from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18uDutylDa4
Really helpful and inspiring from a woman who has pursued both entrepreneurship AND family. Great post.

Ronjini Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM PT

I'm not sure why we are still asking women if they can balance entrepreneurship with life choices like having children? We don't ask men these questions! I am an entrepreneur with three children. My husband is also an entrepreneur. I know my husband and I both struggle to balance it all. We'd like to have more time for our children, for each other, for our companies and for ourselves. I actually think it's harder to balance family with working for a big company where you don't control your time.

Jennifer Roberts Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 5:23 PM PT

Sramana,
You wrote this piece a while ago and somehow I stumbled across it only today! It is very well written. Agree with you in your view on woman and career. Maybe it has to do with me coming from a family of both very career minded parents and not being raised any differently because I happened to be a girl. My mother was able to balance the live of a career woman along with being a mother and wife. I think I turned out right! Not having a career just because I am a mother is unthinkable to me because I would lose my identity without it. To me a career is more than a job and maybe that is why I have a passion for it. But that is just me. I do have friends (women) both Indian and others who have given up their career paths for their children and I respect them for their choices. Interestingly I don't know too many men who have done the same though! I never understood why a man's outlook on life has to be so different from a 'woman'.

Cheers,
Suvarna
Career woman & a proud mother of 2 girls

Suvarna Monday, March 14, 2011 at 1:44 PM PT

Exellent post – I do think that women can 'have it all' – that they can be entrepreneurs and a mommy too…good balance, a good sense of humor and a great level of patience. With that said, I don't look down up on women who do not work – it's a personal choice. Some women find it unfulfilling to be home with children, while others find it difficult to go to work – and still others find it difficult to do both. Everyone's different and everyone has a different paradigm, a different example (from their own mothers) and a different interpretation of happiness. One thing that I've learned from motherhood is to that people are not the same and you cannot worry about what others think or do…Enjoy your own life, your own children and your own career (or lack thereof)…Don't worry about others – you'll waste valuable time!

Deborah Sweeney Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 4:45 PM PT

I am a girl ,now I am a office lady ,I have so much pressure ,sometimes I think maybe I need not work so hard to make a living ,I can choose a easier way to live ,I can marry with a rich man ,then I can live a wealthy life .But the reality is I fall in love with a poor adult ,I love him so much ,but he can not support our future family ,so I have to work hard .For the career ,it is very personal ,if you are capable ,you can have a try ,I know it is hard but I am not afraid .By the way if you need laptop battery you can check laptop battery with you.

wuhanlanguage Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:52 PM PT

As an entrepreneur and mom, I chose to work from home because both, having a child and feeling fulfilled as a person, were important to me. Thanks to the internet, we now have the luxury of being able to do both.

priyaflorence Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM PT

Will those of you that have more than one high school going kid ( at least two boys ), a travelling husband, aged in-laws and parents and very, very early menopausal symptoms and run a successful company put your hands up ?! Please post a snap of yours too so I may look at it daily for inspiration 🙂

Guest Friday, September 2, 2011 at 5:13 AM PT

Much of the discussion hinges on proving one is not deficient, having made one choice or the other. I think we are framing ourselves within the traditional male model of fatherhood/entrepreneurship– one that anticipates a wife/free labor, and/or a life free of familial obligations. Figuratively, when applied to women, it suggests that the childless are "men" (hence, real entrepreneurs and the question) & that female entrepreneurs with children must either be a wife (and not an entrepreneur), or are entrepreneurs who "lack a wife"…handicapped entrepreneurs.

If we remain bound within this structure & judge ourselves by it, in our women's entrepreneurship, we will be perpetually deficient and need to keep defending & vilifying choices, rather than mutually admiring them, and our successes.

The "you can't be both" that prompted the post is predicated on this male model…definitely not on models in cultures where female entrepreneurship is a norm with structural supports that allow "bothness."

We really need to create new models of entrepreneurship that are whole and responsive to our realities, not models derived from the traditional male entrepreneurial reality. Can't we also do it completely differently, and both be and get what we want? We are entrepreneurs, after all.

Vika Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 10:07 AM PT

Wow, such a great post! This is the first time I have seen such a practical and sensible take on this topic. I have just started my career and aspire to become an entrepreneur as well. The question of balancing my life with all different aspects in it, is always on my mind. Your posts clarifies and provides a clear view on this topic. Thanks!

Purti Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 8:31 AM PT

All this endless dealing with kids and household makes most women depressive. I can't imagine myself sitting between four walls for days. But that's a right point of view that every woman and every family should decide what to do by themselves, what is good for me may not be good for another woman.

Queen’s Diamond Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 12:47 AM PT

yes its true, rules are the same for entrepreneurship irrespective of gender. Can you please answer why are there different initiatives particularly for women entrepreneurs? Dont you think it makes sense to leverage such opportunities and use it to your advantage?

Arjuman Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 10:02 AM PT

I don’t understand your qs.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 1:14 PM PT

You are absolutely right. Decisions cannot be forced on a woman. Having children is a personal issue and others should not put their nose into it. But personally I would say that having children is a gift that God has given women. This is a special gift that no other human being has. People should realize this.

Sharon thomas Monday, July 2, 2012 at 1:11 AM PT

Do you honestly believe that great entrepreneurs come a dime a dozen? And that it is NOT a gift from god?

Sramana Mitra Monday, July 2, 2012 at 9:33 AM PT

Thank you for directing me to this post Sramana, I am not surprised it was one of your most popular articles, I've spent a very interesting 45mins reading your article and also the comments, many of which resonate with my experience.

I'm currently at this crossroads myself. I'm 32, happy with a long term partner and just starting up my own business – PlayDNA. My younger sister and brother have both recently had children. All of my friends bar two are also either pregnant or have children. Just recently I have started to think seriously as to what I want from the future, and discuss with my partner. Deciding that we want to have children would mean re-evaluating how the next 24 months will go, in terms of pursuing collaborative opportunities and expanding my business. To be honest, it's been hard!

I love my business and want to commit all my time to it, but I also think of a future with children. It is inspiring to know that there are other women out there that have made it work, despite the difficulties it can involve. Thank you for posting on what I am sure is an issue that impacts many women and the decisions they make with regards to their business. It's good to hear so many voices of solidarity!

Dr Samantha Decombel
Director – PlayDNA Ltd. http://www.playdna.co.uk

Samantha Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 5:51 AM PT

Glad that this discussion has helped you, Samantha.

Sramana Mitra Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8:31 AM PT

Sramana – Like Samantha, I also followed this link from SmallBizTrends and am enjoying discovering various posts here.

My dilemma is not really about whether to have kids or not. When I picked manufacturing engineering as my undergrad many, many years ago, I was 1 of 3 women in a class of 60 men. I have 3 sisters who have all chosen to marry, have kids, etc. while I have chosen not to. These aspects have not bothered me because I have focused on my career and enjoyed it.

I agree absolutely with your points that women entrepreneurs need to compete with men on an absolute level – as entrepreneurs first. But, I do not know whether we have reached a point where women in tech are seen at the same level. Silicon Valley is not there yet. The playing field is not level yet. That said, women like you and several others that you've highlighted in this blog are definitely leading the charge. So, thank you (all) for that. And, I am optimistic that the next generation – my nieces and nephews – will enjoy that level playing field that this generation is working hard at creating.

Jenny Bhatt Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 10:06 AM PT

Jenny, I disagree that women in Silicon Valley are not seen at the same level.
Check this out: http://sramanamitra.com/2012/02/21/1m1m-video

Sramana Mitra Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM PT

Sramana – thanks for the reply. I meant to check in earlier – apologies for my delayed response. We may have to agree to disagree. 🙂 I am more aligned with Wadhwa's Inc.com articles on this topic (I understand from this article that he is a good friend of yours, so I don't feel so bad about taking sides).

The stats just don't bear out, no matter how I want to believe otherwise. It IS getting better – exponentially so. But, I guess I just need to see more women launching successful startups, more women leading corporate tech firms…..

PS I am currently listening in on your 1M / 1M Roundtable today. Good stuff. Your feedback is spot on too. Thanks.

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