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From New Zealand to Silicon Valley: Victoria Ransom’s Wildfire Journey (Part 7)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 4th 2012

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.

This segment is part 7 in the series : From New Zealand to Silicon Valley: Victoria Ransom's Wildfire Journey
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Sramana and Victoria – great article / conversation. I realize I'm a bit late in finding it and commenting…..

I agree with you both that the "women tech entrepreneurs" situation is slowly improving. But, it does start from the early days. And, we also need to see more women in the corporate tech exec ranks.

The day that we can actually stop talking about women in tech or women entrepreneurs as anomalies (for want of a better term) that have to be consciously highlighted in the media – that's when we'll know we're in a good place.

Jenny Bhatt Friday, December 14, 2012 at 4:27 PM PT
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