‘Obstacle is men,’ says female guest in tech talk

NEW YORK–Who’s stopping women from succeeding in the tech startup world? The male-dominated VC world or even their fellow women?

Five women panelists at the Disruptive Technologies meetup last January 25 at Microsoft were in agreement: They face many challenges with just not VCs dominated by men but with their gender as well, although they see the latter less of a problem in the tech space.


One of the panelists said, “The obstacle is men; men should be more women than men saying women should be more like men.”

The panelists were Lori Hoberman,  lawyer and mentor to 37 Angeles; Caitlin Thompson, director of content at Acast, a Swedish company that offers end-to-end podcasting services; Aria Finger, CEO at DoSomething.org, a cause-oriented group for young people; Leslie Ali Walker, CEO and co-founder of Need/Done, an app that helps working parents get the help they need from the people they trust and Maria Seidman, co-founder at Yapp, an app that helps create and publish mobile apps without coding or design experience required.

Before the discussion, Susan Danziger, founder/CEO of Ziggeo, showed how to broadcast events on her app, especially to the meetup at ziggeo.com/h/disruptnyc. Ziggeo uses a patent-pending video capture API/SDK technology.

Each panelist shared her thoughts:

On why women are different from men

  • Women are apologetic about asking for money; there’s hesitation. Men go out there (and ask for money)
  • Women feel beholden but they should think it’s worth investing in them
  • Women do research, making sure their ducks are in a row; men just go out (and do it)

Obstacles that can slow down success

  • We create some obstacles ourselves.
  • There’s a lack of women investors
  • Some don’t believe in themselves. If you waste time because of obstacles, you become a terrible person
  • The obstacle is men; men should be more women than men saying women should be more like men
  • I was told (by a man) I was too ambitious. It is important to see obstacle on the road, whether you want to go around the system or find another road.
  • Learn about obstacles and what may not be overcome

How do you feel about being a woman in tech?

  • You have to learn how not to scratch and claw your way to the top; I promised myself I’ll never do it that way.
  • It should be gender-blind
  • Women should mentor other women not being taught by men
  • Still have a long way (for us) but millennial (women are changing things)
  • Once you’re on top, you can lead by example
  • Women are being ignored in my space so I am doing this
  • Make sense of it all by advocating (for women) and listening to different stories

Why are women not helping other women?

  • Tech industry is more open; women helping other women is happening in tech industry, not in other industries
  • If women my age are not helping me, I’m going younger (who help older women)

What’s the best way to raise perception of women in tech space?

  • If we can have more research about women performing well, then it will raise value of women
  • If the women succeed, they can become investors (for women)

On seeking funds

  • Picking your investor team is a highly personal decision; (you don’t want a) nasty divorce
  • Make sure to have (the right) people and associate on your side and have someone before he or she leaves the VC firm

On approaching women VCs for funds

  • I think it’s limiting. The opportunities (whether men or women VCs) are endless


Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.