I posted this on LinkedIn a few months ago. I thought given the current news cycle, and some recent responses, I’d post it here.
Recently, someone advised me not to mention that we are a woman-owned company or Latina-owned company. He said,
“Your products are good enough to stand on their own. When you bring up International Women’s Day or Hispanic Heritage month or whatever it is, it’s like you’re asking for the ‘mercy vote’. Don’t do that. It doesn’t work anyway. Just point to your effectiveness in getting kids to learn math, and do it happily.”
I had never considered it that way. I bring up being a woman-owned company because I get irritated by all the “Where are the women in tech?” articles. What am I, invisible? I think he may be correct, though, and we should focus the fact on we make the best educational games you can buy. No one really cares that 2/3 of our founders are women. Thoughts?
From the responses I got, both publicly and privately, there seemed a strong, albeit not perfect, correlation between response and gender. Men tended to encourage me to focus on how successful our company is in raising math scores and maintaining students’ interest in playing a game that includes (can you believe it) math.
Most of the women, but not all, said that mentioning being a female/ Latina owned startup was positive because it is important for people to see others like them in the tech industry.
The best response came from Lynn , an executive with many years of experience in multiple industries (transparency: she’s also my cousin and I like her a lot) and it’s reproduced below with permission.
This man simply showcases the male view of affirmative action (mercy vote – what utter fucking bullshit. Women / minorities don’t need mercy, they need the same privilege white men have enjoyed for CENTURIES). *That view* is what needs to change, not the marketing of your firm. As a Latina in tech, you are most definitely in the minority and other women, Latinas, minorities of any stripe can be inspired by your success.
No, you’re not invisible, but you know what they say, it’s not one woman on the board which makes a difference in a company — there have to be at least THREE women on a board before their presence results in actual change. But I’m getting sidetracked. From a business standpoint, the unique perspective you bring to the table as a woman and as a teacher not only matters, it explains WHY you do what you do. (How many men are out there developing educational math games which include positive representation of the Native American community? Is it more than zero? Because if it is, I’ll be impressed.)
What % of teachers are female vs. male? (Advantage: AnnMaria – let’s face it, you’re better equipped than men to communicate with your customers)
I’d say I’m better equipped because I’ve been a teacher, a mother and a grandmother and those two groups comprise > 80% of the people who buy our games so I have some personal insight into their needs.
How many game developers are educators? (Advantage: AnnMaria – you’re better equipped to know the classroom challenges of your customers)
Okay, so maybe I should have read another sentence before commenting 😀
How many game developers are connected to the community represented in their games? (In the case of, for example, Grand Theft Auto, let’s hope none) (Advantage: AnnMaria – you’re better equipped to produce a game which won’t wind up in the headlines for promoting crappy stereotypes)
You are uniquely qualified to not only have created this company, but to listen to and respond to the needs of your customers. Who the actual fuck cares what [ … people who aren’t using the games ] think anyway?
So, I loved her comments and her passion. You can tell we’re related, can’t you? As my friend, Dr. Rhadi Ferguson often says, “Imma leave this right here.”
So, what do you think?