Recently I’ve noticed an uptick in “women-focused” pitches in my inbox. It seems in the last year there has been a lot of momentum in the “women-focused” space. Women accelerators, women incubators, women crowdfunding sites, women angel funds.
Women need all the help they can get.
Wait. What? I need all the help I can get just because I’m a woman? That’s news to me.
I’ve been told all my life that I can do anything I want to do, that nothing can hold me back except myself. I’ve been told that I’m smart and creative and most likely to succeed. And no one ever felt the need to add, “for a girl.”
Because here’s the thing, y’all:
Women in 21st century American cities are the privileged of the privileged.
We are more educated than we’ve ever been in history and more so than many of our male counterparts.
Our mothers and grandmothers did the grunt work by forcing our inclusion in the workforce in general, and now we have the option to “opt out.”
No longer expected to pop out babies every year, we are having children later and later. Or never.
In a recent interview with PandoDaily CEO Sarah Lacy, she told me, “People get mad at me for saying this, but I don’t believe Silicon Valley is inherently sexist. I raised $3 million, brought my baby to meetings, and didn’t have a cofounder.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s true for everywhere else now, too. Are there sexist and biased individuals out there? Of course. Are there systems still in place from a sexist past that need to be revamped? Sure, and the flood of educated, successful women will eventually take care of that.
But there’s something wrong when we treat half the population like a minority or special interest group. Women don’t need all the help we can get because we’re women.
Just like the men around us, our intelligence and creativity and hard work earn us the right to ask for the help we need.
However Niels Bohr was right when he said, “The opposite of a great truth is also true.” While women as a whole may not need focused efforts, there are subsets of women that can benefit from programs that reach them specifically.
One interesting take on the women-focused front is a group called Bella Minds. They are currently running a crowdfunding campaign, and they are interesting because they focus education efforts on women in rural areas.
Women in these areas are watching their way of life die around them, and without immediate connections to big cities, they may not be aware of their options. Bella Minds hopes to offer the kind of mentorship and education urban women take for granted, a specific mission that will open options up to women who are smart enough and driven enough to take them.
Another subset of women that could benefit from focused attention is entrepreneurial women in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. These women are fighting years of cultural oppression and live in societies that are truly patriarchal. They are still the outliers in their cultures, and any support they can get will help drive both them and entrepreneurship in general.
It’s a nuanced issue, for sure, and a blog post will never solve the world’s problems. Ultimately, there are situations in which special help for women is actually needed.
But based on my inbox alone, I fear those initiatives are getting lost in the noise.