Sramana: If you had a daughter in her early years of school right now, what would you do?
Victoria Ransom: I would encourage her to study sciences.
Sramana: You could encourage, but she might not respond. The peer environment does not always support that.
Victoria Ransom: Very true. It also may not be what her forte is. I strongly believe that you should do what you are passionate about. Encouragement is also important.
Sramana: What are you seeing in the entrepreneurial environment today? Do you run into a lot of women entrepreneurs?
Victoria Ransom: It is hard. I have heard that there are a lot more women in Silicon Valley starting companies today then there were 10 years ago. I wasn’t here then, so I don’t have anything to compare that statement against. I do feel that there are a lot of women who are starting companies. Some are getting great traction, others are very young companies.
Sramana: The ratios do continue to improve in women’s favor. I did my graduate degree at MIT in computer science. At this time, I believe the Institute is at 50% for computer science.
Victoria Ransom: That is fantastic. That is great because we struggle to find women engineers. We have some, but it is definitely y a minority. We use Ruby on Rails, and there just are not that many RoR developers out there who are women.
Sramana: I was in graduate school in the mid-1990s. I met people who were much older. I met Janet Grosser, who was from Menlo Park, and she was one of the earlier women at MIT. Compared to her situation [there were 941 men and nine women in her class], we were doing much better. There were three or four women in my lab. I am sure that trend will continue to improve and as a result the number of entrepreneurs will increase.
Victoria Ransom: Being an entrepreneur is tough. It is all-consuming. Trying to fit that in with family life is a challenge, but I think that is getting better as well. Men participate more in raising children and there are more childcare options.
Sramana: Julia Hartz [at Eventbrite] has a lot of family around. She and [her husband] Kevin are also a couple who are raising a company together. They have several children, and in her case she says that having a lot of family on both sides is the key to success. You and your husband, like me, are foreigners and don’t have that luxury.
Victoria Ransom: Rashmi [Sinha] is the CEO of SlideShare and she just had twins. I admire her.
Sramana: Amy Pressman runs Medallia with her husband. They have three children. I asked her how her house runs, and she said it is chaotic. There is no time for anything other than children and work. I have a life because I have chosen not to have children.
Victoria Ransom: Fair enough. That is a path that is increasingly being chosen. It creates differences in people’s opportunities.
Sramana: Not everybody is good at everything. It takes a lot of patience to raise small children. Lives get highjacked by children.
Victoria Ransom: I have friends who are in that stage right now and it certainly seems that is the case! It seems like my friends’ lives are thrown upside down.
Sramana: One of the points that I have made is that it is OK to not have children. It is a choice.
Victoria Ransom: I heard the other day that in Germany a huge percentage of women are choosing not to have children. Good for them. I do believe that is part of the reason you have not seen more women go into entrepreneurship.
Sramana: Women are biologically, socially, and culturally programmed to have children. Entrepreneurship is not particularly compatible with children.
Victoria Ransom: I think it is all consuming. You are in it or you are not.
Sramana: It is emotionally all consuming. I have no emotional bandwidth to do anything else!
Victoria Ransom: We give our company everything. If I have any free time, I find I am doing laundry or something.
Sramana: Congratulations, you are doing great. It is a wonderful story.