Pando

VCs- don’t compare me to your wife, just don’t

By Sarah Nadav , written on February 15, 2016

From The Equality Desk

Sarah Lacy writes: Last week, I wrote a post in response to a casual survey of tech leaders that showed the percentage of working mothers in those couples was 50% lower than the national average.

My point: It’s possible that many VCs and CEOs subconsciously compare women to their wives and either judge them for wanting a high-powered career or simply believe they can’t do both, because it’s not what they see at home.

There was deafening silence from most men I know in the industry, off the record and on social media. But women have begun speaking up and sharing similar experiences of being openly compared to partners’ wives when pitching. Several have even said they keep a list of VCs who’ve done that and made sexual advances. On the latter, a recent survey called “Elephant in the Valley” revealed that 60%  of women in the Valley had received unwanted sexual advances.

Sarah Nadav, an Israeli serial entrepreneur, has written a post on Medium called “VCs- don’t compare me to your wife, just don’t” where she not only explained why this is offensive, but she publishes a redacted conversation with a VC who explicitly does this, writing that he thinks there aren’t more female founders because, like his wife, women “would rather be [mothers] and be with [their] kids.”

As Nadav points out: If you aren’t getting pitched by women, the problem may be you. Female founders talk. Several VCs on Twitter expressed shock that a VC would think-- let alone text-- such things. I was not.

I asked Sarah for permission to repost the piece in its entirety. This isn't about shaming men in the industry, but I do think it’s important to emphasize that, yeah, this happens and it may even be happening in your partnership. If you have similar redacted exchanges you’d like to share, email us at [email protected]

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VCs- don’t compare me to your wife, just don’t

By Sarah Nadav

Investors, you should know that the only thing that I have in common with your wife is a vagina. You need to know that because the women who are sitting in front of you to pitch are Entrepreneurs - and we are a totally different breed of human being than just about anyone else.

Your wife may or may not be an entrepreneur. But the extent to which she is founding a company is the extent to which I have something in common with her.

When you ask me about having it all, or how am I going to manage my kids, I seriously think that you are insane. Because in my head, I can’t imagine a scenario where you trust someone with millions of dollars to run a business but think that they don’t know how to deal with childcare.

Sarah Lacy wrote a brilliant article recently entitled “Does a VC’s unconscious hesitation to fund women start at home?”. You should read it because she speaks so.much.truth.

You might not realize it, but you compare us to your wives out loud all the time. And we cringe while you do it, and we talk about it with each other, and would like to tell you to STFU every single time but we can’t, because we want to get funded so we are nice to you.

For the record, I have never actually received investment from an investor that spoke to me like this, so I don’t give a fuck anymore. I don’t pitch these investors and I don’t even talk to them. I just pack up my shit, leave the room and tell them politely that I don’t think that their investment “will be a good fit”.

If you are wondering why you aren’t getting pitched by female founders- know this and let it soak in- We talk to each other. We warn each other. If there aren’t any women pitching you, it’s not a pipeline problem. The problem is literally you.

For your benefit, I am including a very cringe worthy conversation that I had with a Dealflow Manager for a major VC. I have cut out his name and blocked his picture because my point isn’t to name and shame- it is to show how obvious, blatant and stupid these conversations look when they are given the light of day. For some context, we were discussing why the fund he works for had yet to fund a single woman CEO.