Guest Post: On Women, Start-Ups and Travel: Defending an Open Mind
From time to time I'll host guest posts on The Traveling Philosopher. I don't pay, but I can give you an opportunity to be heard and give you link juice, and if I like you, than I might buy you a drink *cue T-Pain music*. Today's guest post is by Alisha Miranda. Alisha is a certified Travel Geek and proud Brooklynite. Since taking off on her first international solo trip this past spring, she hasn't stopped dreaming of traveling through the world of ancient Spanish cultures. Today you can find her rubbing elbows with travel professionals as she plans to dominate the travel scene once again soon.
I will probably never be married with children. But, I’m okay with that. I’m 24 and only recently have I figured out what I want for my career, let alone life. I am a non-conformist, safe to say, playing by my own rules and sparing no one on my way to the top. I’ve also become a strong believer that incorporating travel into one’s life will invigorate inspiration, educate and stimulate your mind, and provide a unique release from the woes of normal life. So when I come across people, articles, and debates that deliver close-minded assumptions for how I should live my life, I can’t help but speak up and defend my views (see: previously and furthermore).
My outlook on being (1) a young adult female (2) with a career, and (3) lust for travel is what I’d like to discuss and argue in response to Tech Crunch’s ignorantly insulting and offensive piece by Penelope Trunk. I should disclose that I myself have worked in the start-up world for a few years now, have even experimented with my own side freelance business, and am good friends with quite a number of women who are successful business owners themselves, happily raising families. With all these factors included, I have learned that success is not defined by how much money you make, but how happy you are. Everyone defines success and happiness differently, so for Trunk to suggest otherwise is a mistake that deserves some rebuttal.
I surely don’t believe everyone is the same, or that everyone should live and work the same way, because we all have different passions, interests, ethics, and so on; therefore, we cannot be all pooled together. Penelope Trunk’s argument in Tech Crunch goes against everything I am, believe in, and choose to be. To be told that I should be like every other woman in this country is simply degrading. Not only do I disagree with Trunk’s premise entirely, but also I found some of her statements to be contradictory. Here are some points I’d like to address (beware: angry Rican on the loose):
“Startups move at break-neck pace, under a lot of pressure to succeed bigger and faster than any normal company. And women don’t want to give up their personal life in exchange for the chance to be the next Google.”
I for one would like to see the statistics behind this. As I now have come to know, respect, even admire, more women than men running their own ventures with more balls than I’ve ever imagined. Speaking on my own behalf, I’d like to say that I’ve managed to NOT give up a personal life in exchange for that kind of success. Yes – I work insane hours with a lot of pressure and perhaps not making great amounts of money, but I’m doing it my way and I still pitch my ass off to the people I know will support me in the end. Plus, to assume all women want to be a company like Google is just dumb. How would you know and who are you to speak on their behalf?
“Women are under real pressure to have kids, though. They have a biological clock. So women who are the typical age of entrepreneurs—25—need to be looking for someone to mate with. Think about it. If you want to have kids before you’re 35—when your biological clock explodes—then you need to start when you’re 30, allowing for one miscarriage, which is more probable than most young people think. If you need to start having kids when you’re 30, you probably need to meet the guy you’re going to marry by the time you’re 27, so you can date for a year, get married, and live together for a year before kids. If you need to meet that guy by 27, you are very distracted during your prime startup time.”
Here’s the kicker with this woman. This is by far the part that baffled and enraged me the most. I find it incredibly offensive that all women have to abide by this so-called “biological clock.” Honestly, who even uses that term anymore? By her standards, I should be pregnant right now with my future husband waiting for me to sign over my life and a house in the middle of the country away from any remotely exciting city or opportunities. I should just give up now! News flash: I’m as single as can be and perfectly fine with it. I have the rest of my life to settle down with or without a mate who I may or may not want to pop out kids with. Frankly, I’ve never even imagined myself married with kids. Realistically, I envision my thirties as a happy single mama of an adopted child chillin’ in the parks of New York City. Also, having made strong friendships with women older than me who are nomadic businesswomen, it has come to my attention that more and more women do NOT aspire this wholesome mom life at all. They have bigger and better dreams for their career and their life – dreams that in many cases have become reality! I know women who have traveled the world over, falling in and out of love with “probable mates”, but instead chose to pursue a life of their own, on their own, for their own reasons; and I couldn’t commend them more. Furthermore, travel has proved to open more doors for women of all ages and life stages in a number of fields including start-ups, multimedia platforms and independent projects; therefore, to limit a woman’s choice based on her age and marital status is flat out offensive.
“And I’m not even going to go into the idea of women having a startup with young kids. It is absolutely untenable. The women I know who do this have lost their companies or their marriages or both. And there is no woman running a startup with young kids, who, behind closed doors, would recommend this life to anyone.”
Let me shout out a few names to ya, homegirl: Melanie Renzulli, Carol Cain, Julie Schwietert Collazo, Francesca Folinazzo, Kimberly Nyström, Amer DeGrace, Christine Gilbert, Kim Mance, and Bethenny Frankel. These are just a few of my favorite women who also happen to be doing quite well with their own businesses (primarily writing), while running a household full of babies and husbands. Plus, they also encourage other women to pursue their dreams of starting their own careers. So I’d think twice before assuming all women want that passive, domestic role.
The real crime with Trunk’s outlook and article is her false assumptions of career-minded women. She claims women don’t want to run their own businesses because they would rather settle down with a husband and kids, and this is false. Gathering conclusions from stereotypical female roles is just cornering us into a box from which we need to prove ourselves even more. What Trunk fails to acknowledge is that using our other passions such as travel, we as women are able to fulfill our dreams outside that box, breaking the norm, and seeking our own happiness on our own terms. In fact, I have seen first-hand how travel can further a start-up company with engaging content, lively community and inspiring affiliate programs. Whether we women choose to have a husband and child at our side in that process is our own decision and not to be judged by others who have failed in that path previously. Just because you chose to abandon your start-up to live on a farm with a husband and some kids, doesn’t mean we all should follow in your footsteps.
But, to each his own.