It Is a Personality Bias | Startups and Gender


Personality Bias

The Problem: 

I don’t believe there is a gender bias in the startup community but rather a personality bias. The startup world favors individuals who are focused on winning and are willing to go to any lengths to succeed. Unfortunately, women are typically raised in a manner that doesn’t develop these personality traits.

In my opinion, boys and girls receive entirely different messages about purpose and meaning in their formative years. Boys are typically raised to compete in aggressive activities—where winning is the main goal; they play games where the smartest person is the winner.

Read what other mentors say on whether there’s a gender bias in the startup world.

Most girls spend their formative years making sure they are well-liked and popular. Girls are socially conditioned to believe their purpose and meaning in life is derived from their physical appearance and popularity. Most young girls spend very little time playing aggressive sports or intellectually challenging games. Naturally, they grow up to be women who don’t care about being the winner or being the smartest kid in the room.

The Solution:

We need to create a world where females feel comfortable exploring competitive and historically male-dominated fields. It is critical young girls view intelligence and hard work as feminine, not only masculine, personality traits.

The foundation for change has begun. Debbie Sterling, a Stanford-educated engineer, created GoldieBlox to show young girls they can enjoy engineering and still enjoy their feminine side. Kimberly Bryant, a seasoned engineer and project manager, created Black Girls Code to introduce young girls to the fun side of tech and increase the number of women of color in the digital space. These are only a few ways women are actively engaged in the solution.

This post originally appeared on Atelier Advisors. Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups and Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs. All AlleyWatch readers are automatically eligible for a 50% discount on either of the courses using the preceding links.


Image credit: CC by ricarose


About the author: Lili Balfour

Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator and host of Finance for Entrepreneurs, author of Master the Finance Game, and host of the Finance for Entrepreneurs broadcast on Spreecast.

After spending fifteen years in investment management and investment banking, she decided to develop a firm to cater to the specific needs of early-stage companies. At Atelier Advisors, Lili advises leading brands across industries: from tech to consumer goods. In the past, she has advised over 100 brands, including:

Bag, Borrow, or Steal, Visual IQ, Alpha Theory, Derivix, Practice Fusion, Peeled Snacks, Sustainable Minds, Firescope, Chix 6, Duchess Marden, Erin Fetherston, Eckart Tolle, and Stuart Skorman (founder of Reel.com, Elephant Pharmacy, Hungry Minds, and Clerk Dogs (sold to Netflix)).

While advising companies at Atelier Advisors, she observed a common theme – -brilliant founders avoided finance. She began writing about entrepreneurial finance to solve this problem.

As a native of Silicon Valley and a first generation Mexican American, Lili understands the importance of imparting wisdom learned in Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. Her goal is to teach the entire planet about entrepreneurial finance.

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