What I learned in My First Year as a Female Startup CEO

How often do you hear about the dearth of women in technology, especially leading start ups? And then comes the litany of complaints about how awful it is to be a woman CEO in the testosterone-driven tech culture. That’s why it was so refreshing to read Yunha Kim’s smart take on her experience, concluding that it either sucks or is awesome depending on how you frame your own perspective. Take The Lead thinks its time we change the narrative to the awesome part. Read on for Yunha’s insights.-Gloria Feldt, Co-founder and President, Take The Lead

What is it like to be a female in tech?I think the industry is really curious about this topic — almost so much so that we appear committed to proving how different (or perhaps difficult) it is to be a female CEO.If a reporter asks me why it sucks to be a female CEO, I can come up with hundreds of reasons. On the other hand, if I am asked to argue why it’s awesome to be a female CEO, I can also do that pretty well. So here is my take on both sides.

Top 3 reasons it sucks to be a female CEO

  1. If you are aggressive, you are a bitch. If you are emotional, you are PMSing. If you are soft, you are too feminine. Whatever way someone finds you, they can always justify it is because you are female.
  2. You may get more sales meetings because some of the guys that you are pitching to have a different agenda. Since it’s difficult to distinguish it early on, you may end up wasting some time. If you turn down their advances (and it gets awkward), doing deals with their companies can become difficult.
  3. Hiring engineers can get tricky. When you reach out to prospective developers, you may get emails like this:

And the sad news is, this is one of the more professional emails.

Speaking of engineers, our lead engineer Kaushik is AWESOME. Here’s a picture of us presenting at the NY Tech Meetup.

Top 3 reasons it is awesome to be a female CEO

  1. Sometimes, guys are more willing to help you because you are a girl. On the flip side, girls will help you because you are a “fellow female entrepreneur.” This is one of the rarely spoken benefits of being a female CEO, especially when you are trying to get things off the ground.

Tyra sent me this T-shirt to celebrate her investment in Locket.

2. Fundraising can be easier. For instance, there are female investors whose personal goal is to empower other female entrepreneurs. When Tyra invested in Locket, I felt lucky to be a female CEO.3. You might be able to hire more talented female employees. You understand them better so it can be easier to identify a good fit. And if you land on the right ones, they can be really good (e.g. our designer Lisa is the best). After all, there are bunch of studies (done by female organizations, obvi) that show women perform better on the job.

The lesson here is that it is all about how you frame your perspective. If you are committed to believing that it sucks to be a female CEO, you will be right, and it will suck to be you. If you are committed to believing it’s awesome to be a female CEO, you will be happier and confident to be you.After all, it’s not like you can choose whether to be a female CEO vs male CEO. But you can choose your attitude toward it.

If you want to see what I’m working on now, check out Locket.Locket is a San Francisco based startup changing the way we use our lock screens. We check our phone over 110 times per day and we believe there’s more to your lock screen than a boring, static picture of a flower. Locket brings stuff you care about to your lock screen based on your interests, swiping habits, and time of the day. Locket is available now in Google Play store.