Nurturing a Baby AND a Startup Business


A recent New York Times article talks about women who are both mothers and founders of start-ups. The premise of the piece is that venture capital firms discriminate against women because start-ups require so much time and attention that a mother simply can’t do the job.

“If investors meet a male founder of a company, they don’t care whether he has two or three children because they assume that his wife will take care of them, Mr. Craig says. “But with a female founder,” he adds, “it’s a whole different story.”… Women make up 10 percent of the founders at high-growth tech companies, “and they raise 70 percent less money than men do because of their lack of access to capital,” says Lesa Mitchell of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she is vice president for initiatives on advancing innovation.

“All of the women I know who went to raise money did it when they didn’t have kids,” she says. “There is total discrimination in the start-up world against women who are pregnant.”

I don’t know much at all about Silicon Valley or VC firms and whether it’s actual discrimination or perceived discrimination.

All I see, from my perspective as a dating coach, is how anyone involved in a start-up (or related to someone involved) has to sacrifice personal time.

“Ms. Fleiss’s husband took care of Daniella for three days while she was in Los Angeles for work. They alternate doing the morning feeding. At night, he often puts the baby to sleep while his wife reads and replies to e-mail.” Or, from later in the article, “Outside help is essential. Ms. Roney says: “I barely have time to put on lip gloss. Luckily my assistant fills my work closet with makeup and dresses so I can attempt to look presentable for the potential meetings and TV segments I may have that day.”

This only goes to further my thoughts that

a) A highly driven, ambitious woman needs a man who can take on some traditionally feminine duties OR she needs a lot of paid help to mother her children.
b) Anyone dating a highly driven, ambitious person may come in second to that person’s career. Caveat emptor.

Read the article here and let me know if you’d like to be partnered up with someone insanely wealthy…but insanely busy.

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  1. 21

    Michelle – I didn’t mean to be offend anyone with the statement that anyone can pump out kids. But I do find it puzzling when people think that the main purpose of life is to have a child and raise the next generation. What’s the point – then, is THAT child’s main purpose once they’re an adult to have another child to raise another generation? What, independently, is the purpose of living? I’m mixed on whether I want kids, but could tell you unequivocally that if I was, say, 35 and childless down the line, a much more meaningful thing for me that I’d be overjoyed to do would be to adopt an infant from a third world country.

    That’s not me bringing something into an already overpopulated world that wasn’t there before, that’s me literally saving a needy person from poverty. I know most people wouldn’t think of it in those terms, perhaps I’m unique here, but it strikes me that if you are already on this earth there are a hell of a lot of things you could be doing to have a major impact on the world that have nothing to do with creating children and being focused on one partner in your own insular little world. And it’s a shame that women do better in school, but then get so many mixed messages throughout their lives about what their value and place is in society that they don’t seem to do as well in the professional realm.

  2. 22

    Unfortunately, there were assumptions in my post that are not accurate.   I know it’s difficult for many people to think big picture.

    I’m shocked there were no other comments on the much more important  statement that raising a human being is not  unique and meaningful–speaks  volumes about  today’s society where human value is devalued on a daily basis.

    I  held  the progressive  career in my family and was the main breadwinner.   I was lucky enough to be able to take 4  years off when my 2nd child was born (worked part time at night).   Then I went back to my full time, demanding but rewarding  career, then in 2007, went back to school AND worked full time when I finished in early 2010.   All with a supportive and beta husband.   I’ve had both worlds, I “get” them both.

    When I was with my kids when they  were very young, this is true, I didn’t go out an  gather berries for dinner neither did I sit around and ‘play’ all day–I find this insulting to women who run households and raise children.   However, I did a lot of other modern day tasks during the day, which benefited the family  because we had more time together to relax and spend weekends together, rather than doing the  routine tasks needed to run a household and family since I had done those during the day, during the week.   OUR FAMILY UNIT WAS LESS STRESSED, and how can that EVER be a bad thing?  

    When women are taking on masculine roles (doing, conquering, competing), it’s very difficult to transition into a feminine role (being, nurturing,emotional).   So we often become just another man in a woman’s body, that’s our energy vibe, that’s how we’re acting, like men.   Many, many women struggle with this, and it often  hurts marriages.    

    #13, EXACTLY, very well said!     I’m saying similar things, and bringing up other points that I’ve realized over the years and with my maturing.

    as women we need to . . . realize that we are still the primary emotional care-takers of our husbands . . .        

    I agree with this and understand what you are saying.   I  also loved your point about  just ‘hiring’ someone.   There IS a difference betwee spitting out a baby and raising a functioning  human being, and so many people think nothing of hiring someone else to do that for them.    

  3. 23

    @David T #20: thank you for your wise words! I think I’m currently identifying myself too much in the role of an emotional care-taker as I’m supporting my boyfriend emotionally a lot these days. He is able to – and does – take care of himself of course, and he does support me as well, but I might be on some slippery slope where I focus too much of my energy in supporting him emotionally.
    Thank you for the valuable reminder!

  4. 24

    I shake my head when I read about women having children with the expectation that now there will be someone to take care of them when they are “old and gray.”  This  might have been a viable expectation in the economic boom  years after WW2, but this is no longer a viable expectation. Today, developed economies are highly unstable and it’s harder to get a leg up. People are living longer, even with disabilities. And adults are more mobile, often relocating in pursuit of jobs. What this means for the dependent elderly:

    1) Not enough money to go around. The next generation is delaying careers, marriage, and childbearing. Their lifetime earnings may never match that of their parents.  The timeline is off: They’ll have kids entering college and parents needing help at the same time, but they’ll be perhaps 10 years behind in earning power.

    2)  Many years of dependency. People are living longer and healthcare is better. It is also extremely expensive.  In the last year of life, care for a diabetic  costs around  $1 million. Assisted living costs  roughly $80,000/year.  Overall, the health of Americans is in precipitous decline–healthcare costs for diabetes alone will skyrocket in coming years. Who will be be able to pay for a parent’s many years of end-of-life care?

    3)  Pension plans are a thing of the past. Social Security payments  are not enough to live on.  If someone  retires at 65 or 70, how will s/he finance 15 or 20 years of retirement? Especially if that person is in poor health? How can an adult child pay for this?

    4) People  relocate more today than at any other time, often for a job. Will the dependent parent move, too? How will this affect the adult children and grandchildren?  If, instead,  the dependent parent is in a facility, how will you pay for that?  

    I understand that  many women see “a good man” as the answer to all of these  questions. But even a good man has limits to his resources, if not his willingness to fund fantasy and denial. If you want a traditional marriage relationship that’s fine, but part of your emotional support (if that’s what you offer in exchange for financial support) might be to approach every relationship  with the  understanding that no one has to “take care” of you.     

  5. 25

    Michelle: “When women are taking on masculine roles (doing, conquering, competing), it’s very difficult to transition into a feminine role (being, nurturing,emotional).”
    This is an artificial divide. It’s difficult to transition because too many of have never bothered to question at depth the gendered roles that are given to us. Too many simply assume that men have little capacity to nurture, for example, or women aren’t really capable of running successful businesses (or being political leaders, or whatever). Even though strides have been made on both ends, it’s really not enough in my opinion.  
    Men and women can and should learn how to move across the so called masculine and feminine roles. Instead of insisting that we’re born to do and be certain things, why not instead develop an education and community cultural system that emphasizes more fluidity and training around these roles? I’m not just talking about children here, although children tend to learn quicker and easier than adults. While I’m talking about this on a society-level scale, it can – and already is being done on much smaller scales. I’ve personally been a part of programs with kids where skills that once were gendered were taught across the board. Boys who can cook and easily feel empathy grow up to be better partners. As are girls who can fix cars, direct groups, and develop business plans.
    As for the point about women feeling pressure to “take care of the emotional needs of boyfriends and husbands, I say this: a lot of men need to grow up emotionally. We need to step up, and stop training each other through hazing and “guy code” mentalities, which reinforce adolescent norms instead of lead to more mature adults. Operating on a more equitable give and take, where supporting and nurturing are shared and coming from love and wanting to, as opposed to duty and/or guilt, should be a base level focus of all partnerships. Single women and men would do well to advocate for this while dating, and married folks with excessive imbalances would do well to reassess.
    This is not about pushing for everyone to be exactly the same. Nor is it a suggestion that men and women have no differences. Those are bs extremes that simply allow people to ignore questions about how gender has been socially constructed, and how often roles have been cultivated and socially assigned, as opposed to being a part of one’s biology. What’s amazing to me is how commonplace arguments of biological determinism and essentialism have become these days. The points Sarahrahrah makes are entirely lost on many people because actual history is absent for a good percentage of society. The role of “male breadwinner” and female “housewife”, for example, were created only a few centuries ago, and so if you want to look at the stresses and often conflicting needs in families, that’s a good place to start. Looking at how family structures were forced to adapt in response to male led industrial capitalist development. Again, I’ll say that unaddressed, pervasive greed, the devaluing of communities and sharing with neighbors, and our collective obsession with being constantly entertained (often at great financial expense) are all major factors in the stresses of modern families. Individual families can make some changes to lessen a fair amount of this stress, but of course that takes time, effort, and priority shifting.  
    Along these lines, an excellent documentary to consider is Learning from Ladakh. There’s background info. here. and you can view the video in four sections on YouTube.
    “So we often become just another man in a woman’s body, that’s our energy vibe, that’s how we’re acting, like men.” This experience fits right in with the history I’m speaking about. Although the way I see it, what you say is “acting like men” I argue is acting like men who have conformed to the norms in order to fit in, “succeed,” and survive in many cases. It’s what they learned about “being a man” growing up, as opposed to the biological differences in our bodies. Certainly men and women often nurture, for example, in somewhat different ways, but I’d sure as hell rather celebrate those differences than the essentialist argument that men are X and women are Y and that’s that.

  6. 26

    Michelle #23
    “When women are taking on masculine roles (doing, conquering, competing), it’s very difficult to transition into a feminine role (being, nurturing,emotional).”
    This sounds like a very narrow, traditionally defined view of gender roles. I think that women – and men – are capable of so much more. Many, many women do both, every single day, and it doesn’t make news, like single moms where there’s no, or minimal, father involvement, and two-income families, where both parents HAVE to work to make ends meet. Some women might be overjoyed to be able to stay home with their kids, but others might dislike it, and I don’t see one way as necessarily better than the other, but in any case, not everyone has a choice in the matter.  
    And no, I don’t believe that women need to be the primary caretakers of men’s emotional needs. Men are sentient beings who should have responsibility for their own emotional well-belng.
    Really, this notion of “having it all”, is laughable when “it all” is thrust upon so many people who don’t really have a choice.

  7. 27

    Michelle @23
    “I’m shocked there were no other comments on the much more important  statement that raising a human being is not  unique and meaningful—speaks  volumes about  today’s society where human value is devalued on a daily basis.”
    I agree with you and was shocked as well. I understand that everyone does not want to have kids or give birth to kids.
    I also say that there’s no way that one can compare the raising and nurturing of human life to material endeavors and attempt to “rank” them on levels of importance and meaning.  

  8. 28

    @ Jon #25, excellent point, I was going to comment on it too! So many things wrong with that statement, “your children will take care of you when you’re old”. In addition to your points, here are a few of mine.
    1) A child is a person, not an investment that the parents expect to pay off in 30 years with interest. That’s a pretty utilitarian way to look at a human being, your close family member no less.
    2) Our children have no obligation to support us in our old age. If they don’t want to, we can’t make them. They will however have obligations to support their own families, and that comes first. I certainly wouldn’t want my grown children to take resources from their own families and give them to me.
    3) Bad things happen. It’s possible that our children won’t physically or financially be able to support us in our old age, even if they want to. Heck, what if my son marries a woman who wants to be a stay-at-home mom to fifteen kids? There’s no way he’ll be able to support me then, even if he’s so inclined. I do not have the financial resources to support my own parents right now, fortunately they love being self-sufficient and I’d have had the hardest time forcing my money on them anyway.
    Basically, having children for the reason that they will support you in your old age is same as marrying a man for the reason that you don’t want to work outside of home… a recipe for disaster.

  9. 29

    SS28: There are  many life experiences that are unique and meaningful, that  nothing else compares to.  These are  personal value judgments, by their nature intangible. I can respect that  raising a child is  the most meaningful  experience for you (if that’s what you’re saying), but please respect that for others it is not.

    To bring the moral puzzle to the forefront here: If  giving birth to and raising  1 child is meaningful, is giving birth to and raising 10 children more meaningful?  I’m imagining that most people would think that at some point having kids loses its meaningfulness. Who decides where that line is?

    SS28: There are many ways to nurture human life–material endeavors among them. There’s just  a lot of work to be done.

  10. 30

    Actually Jon, I don’t have any children yet, but I’ve always felt this way.
    Creating and nurturing life and completing material endeavors aren’t comparable concepts, as far as I’m concerned. If you noticed in my post, I said that one can’t rank them on the same levels of importance… that goes both ways.
    If raising a child is not someone’s desire, that’s perfectly fine. Then I say those people don’t get to make the comparison to raising human life because it’s something they haven’t done.
    I certainly can’t say my material achievements are more important than having a child and raising one, because I haven’t done the latter. And even if I had, I really couldn’t compare the two because that would be like comparing apples and oranges… who’s really to say that starting a company is more meaningful than having a child? (Or vice versa if one doesn’t want children?)
    The value judgment was made when the original statement was typed that minimized child-rearing.

  11. 31

    Much as I dislike Lori Gottlieb’s strident tone  (there was no need to compare Ms Slaughter to a bratty kindergartner), I agree with her completely again. No one can have it all. It isn’t a feminist thing. Men can’t have it all either.

    The difference is – forgive me if it’s politically incorrect to say –  I believe that today, women expect more than men do. We expect more of ourselves, and we expect more from the world.  Partly it’s because we think we need to fulfill others’ expectations. There’s a huge amount of pressure on us to be “good mothers,” whatever that means to us; but especially if we received a lot of education and training, we also expect a high-powered career and believe that others expect it of us too.  

    The truth of the matter is, we probably need to lower our expectations on BOTH fronts – parenthood and career.  Or, we can make a conscious choice to focus on one or the other, but not both. NYTimes ran an article near Father’s Day about how both fathers and mothers are spending more one-on-one time with their children than back in the 1960s-80s, but somehow we’re harder on ourselves (women, at least) about not devoting enough time to them. At the same time, more women are moving into increasingly powerful careers. What do we expect? Something has to give.  We can’t do MORE parenting than others did in the past  AND devote more time to career simultaneously.  

    So I think it’s time for women to stop being so hard on ourselves (and others) and face the fact that life is about choices, and we can’t have it all. We should decide, based on our life circumstances,  how  much we want to  devote to each activity given time and energy constraints – and BE AT PEACE with that decision, whatever  voices may say from outside.    

  12. 32

    SS31: I would assume that the person who minimized child rearing was expressing her own values.

  13. 33

    @ Ruby #27
    “Really, this notion of “having it all”, is laughable when “it all” is thrust upon so many people who don’t really have a choice.”
    Well said, Ruby.   As a single parent by circumstance and not by choice, I couldn’t agree more.

  14. 34

    @Evan: You appear to give the same advice to men considering dating Alpha women that you have given to women considering dating Alpha men. Be careful because they’re always first.
    Do you believe that hyper-successful women are basically the same as hyper-successful men in terms of relationships ?

  15. 35

    #25. I wasn’t sure if this referred to something I mentioned, if it was, it was not read correctly.   In the world I live in, the children of today are going to grow up and run institutions, governments, businesses, schools, etc., etc. in the future.  

    #34 The original post is about a woman who  CHOOSES to start a start-up, in this case,  it wasn’t thrust  upon her.    

    #22,    As I understand it, ultimately,  the main purpose of men and women on this  Earth is to procreate, that’s why we are here.   If someone doesn’t procreate, then how does the species survive?   We’re also biologically built to do that.   It’s NOT the only thing we do throughout life, but the main one.   HOWEVER, we are   lucky enough to have a choice if we want to do that or not.    


  16. 36

    Michelle 36: “ultimately,  the main purpose of men and women on this  Earth is to procreate, that’s why we are here.”
    I guess this is the difference between those who believe that “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and those who don’t believe that. Personally, I believe human life is more precious than simply following the dictates of biology. But I am not casting any judgments on who believes what. Even philosophers don’t agree on this: Rousseau would cast sides with you. But I cast sides with Socrates.
    Basically, I agree with everything Mia said in 22, except two things: First, Mia, if you decide later that you do not want children, you shouldn’t feel obligated to adopt just because some people believe that every woman should have children. Only do it if you think this is what you really want. Second, it’s only been recently that women have been outranking men in education up to the undergraduate level (but not beyond), so this may be why you haven’t seen more professional women at high ranks. We’re decades older than this newest group of women. Give it some time, for the impacts of improved women’s education to percolate to the top.

  17. 37

    Michelle36: Two questions. How does loading the planet down with more people than it can sustain support  survival of the species?  If the species doesn’t survive, who will care?

    Mindless adherence to biological impulses is not a strong moral argument, in my view. It’s the same argument that men use when they say they just “can’t help themselves.” Third question. Do you want to be on the receiving end of that argument?

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