To Succeed in Silicon Valley, You Still Have to Act Like a Man
As a female start-up chief executive — and woman of color, no less — I always knew pitching my company to potential funders would sometimes be maddening. In one of my first meetings, a male investor avoided eye contact with me and addressed his questions to my male co-founder. My co-founder, without pause, would politely turn to me and repeat the question verbatim. This went on for multiple rounds as if we were caught in some surreal reenactment of an “Abbott and Costello” skit. Later, when I brought this up to a male mentor, he suggested letting my male co-founder pitch alone, or for me to deliberately take a back seat during investor meetings. “Better yet, A/B test it,” he said, “and let me know which one gives you the best response.”
The message was clear: Be a man or be invisible.
I am not the only one who has had that realization. Many female entrepreneurs I know play up masculine traits, and why shouldn’t we? Research shows investors prefer entrepreneurial pitches presented by men rather than women, even when the content of the pitch is the same...