I just read this article entitled “The Myth of the Queen Bee; why women (sometimes) don’t help other women” and as I read it, I absolutely recognized some of my own behaviors and immediately understood some of the behaviors of the powerful women I’ve met. It’s a great article – you should read it.
No matter how you want to explain it, it’s statistically difficult to reach the women who are at the “top of their game.” The fact that I see one female venture partner for every ten to twenty men is already difficult, aside from the gender elephant in the room when I ask men about their career path or advice.
Gender aside, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the women in particular who have been supportive of me, and who have always taken time to hear me out and give me advice. It’s the women & men who have made time for me when I was at the “top” of my game, during times of uncertainty, and especially when I didn’t have anything to offer them that I want to model myself after.
A recent example that comes to mind is Karin Klein from Bloomberg beta in NYC – this meeting had a surprisingly profound impact on me and inspired this post. I had just finished an interview for an analyst position at another VC, and Karin sat down with me for 30 minutes after we had casually connected on twitter. I had nothing to offer her except for my enthusiasm and she still took those 30 minutes to chat with me, let me ask all sorts of questions and to give me fantastic advice.
I’ve had countless meetings and introductions over the last however many years with all sorts of incredibly helpful people, but upon reflection, I’ve realized that most of those meetings have been with men since I live in the Bay Area.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the meeting with Karin felt different for me – I think it’s because I met a woman who is where I hope to be some day, and she still took the time to meet with me when it was of no immediate advantage to her. I can’t say that I’ve had very many meetings like this with women. I think a lot of women who hit a certain height end up being insulated by so many layers of people that it’s hard to reach them.
After that meeting, I said to myself, “this is what I wish more executive women did.” Time is a commodity, but I hope that anyone reading this tries to make more time for meetings like that. I don’t think women are necessarily obliged to help other women, but I think we as people can get so focused on where we’re going that we sometimes forget to look back and help other people get there too.