Today is the Day Without a Woman, and nearly half (45%) of our firm is female. I’m not going to beat around the bush — we would collapse as an organization without my female co-workers, full stop. So in the spirit of the day, I wanted to take a moment and thank my female co-workers.
I first started at Village Capital in November of 2014, and something was evident from day one:
The women of Village Capital are truly extraordinary.
I say this without hyperbole, flattery, or pretension. Full disclosure: None of the women on my team know I’m writing this — Hi Team!
I work with three of them very closely:
Proud Mom, Stanford Graduate, and the Managing Director of our venture fund. She’s my boss, so I’ll post this photo of her here to discount any accusations of apple-polishing:
She has the best professional book recommendation list I have ever seen — here’s a teaser. I’ve watched her be more thoughtful in 30 seconds than most people could muster with months of prep time, on subjects ranging from deal mechanics to hiring practices to global macroeconomic trends. She’s brilliant, disciplined, and most importantly, she leads by example. It’s a terrifyingly precious privilege to share an office with her.
Proud (dog) Mom, UW graduate, and the VP of US Ventures for our accelerator. The “humble gardener” of our team. A truly relentless problem solver, and one of the most loyal, imaginative, and perceptive people I’ve ever met.
A true master of managerial finesse, Brittney is going to be on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List next year — mark my words. It’s really hard not to gush when talking about Brittney- so I’ll let her theme song do the talking for me.
Easily the most positive, curious, and relentlessly resourceful person I’ve ever met. Amanda and I have known each other since we impulsively bought one-way tickets to Mumbai to participate in the IDEX Fellowship, and she was the one who recommended I join Village Capital.
Since taking the lead of our Mexico City team, Amanda has blown up the Mexican airwaves as an expert on entrepreneurship, built an amazing community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors in Mexico City, and had a term coined to describe her one-woman catalytic abilities: “The Amanda Jacobson Effect.”
I could go on at length about all of the women of Village Capital — they bring expert knowledge, are absolutely resourceful hustlers, and possess the applied intelligence and quiet confidence that are very often the truest signs of success.
Over time, as we have worked side-by-side in the trenches of early-stage venture capital and entrepreneurship, some unfortunate realities became self-evident.
I did not appreciate how difficult it was to be a woman in venture capital.
I have borne witness to several sets of behavior that my female co-workers have had to deal with that look very different from how I have been treated:
Minor acts of disrespect are commonplace. These vary in style and severity, but I’ve seen everything from responding to male colleague’s emails instead of a female colleague’s, to assuming Brittney is my assistant (or intern), all the way up to outright refusal to take a meeting with one of my female co-workers.
People take credit for your ideas on a fairly regular basis. Everyone is guilty of “liberating” ideas from one part of their life and using it in another — recipes, jokes, vernacular phrases, even bands that may or may not exist. But, when that appropriation has real tangible professional consequences, it’s infuriating — and there are plenty of examples to show this happens, it is real, and it would make me want to break things if it happened to me on such an alarmingly frequent basis.
Breaches of professionalism due to power and gender differentials are not uncommon. This may not be polite to discuss, but I have never scheduled a meeting in a professional setting with a female colleague that she perceived to be a potential romantic rendezvous — EVER. Nor have romantic expectations ever been revealed to me after the meeting has begun. To me, that would be highly unusual, wildly unprofessional, unwanted, and kind of unbelievable. And yet this sort of “sneak date” has happened several times my female co-workers.
So, in the spirit of the Day Without a Woman, here’s my call to action for my male colleagues, in VC and elsewhere:
Breathren, playing ignorant is not going to fly anymore. Open your eyes, know the signs, and help your sisters out.
So, to my female co-workers — I give you all the recognition and admiration this little corner of the internet can muster. You live your principles, maintain a standard of excellence that makes us all better, and I truly hope to be more like you.
Thank you for making this a thoughtful, professional, and truly unique place to work.
Victoria Fram, Brittney Riley, Amanda Jacobson, Allie Burns, bidisha, Allyson Plosko, Marilyn Waite, Whitney Muse, Hallie Noble, Ebony Pope, Heather Strachan, Rachel Schwartz, Yanira Martínez Altamira, Hannah Lewis, Emily Edwards, Alex Quarles, Michele Rivard, Mallory Sanborn, Rachel Crawford, Lia Mayka, and Tina Nyamache (who is apparently not on Twitter or Medium!)