Thanks for opening this discussion Chloe.
As a female CEO of a tech startup, I'm keen to offer my experience, wisdom and advice, but first, I'd like to address some of the activity in this thread.
First of all, I will say that I would expect that a man who is genuine about supporting women and is smart, would sit on the sides and watch and listen as women tell their stories.
Some of the men here have attempted to list the things that'qualify' them to speak on behalf of us (I was raised by a single mum, I have daughters, my ex was a woman etc). Those attempts to qualify your involvement may come from a sincere place. But here's the thing; nothing qualifies you to speak on behalf of me. Nothing. My experience is not something that you will ever access. You need to accept that and not try to speak about something you will never personally access.
I'm sure Christopher Owen that you would have witnessed your Mother's struggle and pain as a single Mum and her fighting spirit. Thank you that you would visit this post and attempt to learn and support. I'm sorry that you were treated so badly for that. Your experiences have likely been a mix of pain and inspiration. I will not trample on your experiences and what you learned from your Mother. Thanks for sharing them. I would, however, suggest that you, and the other very vocal men on this thread pipe down and let the women through so that we can answer Chloe's question from our perspective.
How many women have perhaps viewed this thread and moved on because the loudest voices on here are from men? If you really really mean well, and thank you very much if you do, then listen.Listen.That is your greatest gift to our cause.
Both sides in this debate needwisdom. Not lots of advice giving. Not agression. Wisdom. Get some. One of the best ways is to listen.
Another comment I'd like to address is the point that Lanvy made about making sure she looks attractive so that any man that falls off will want her to pull him back on. If I've understood this correctly, your advice to women is to use our sexuality and beauty to win favour with sexist men and draw them out of their abusive stance. Really? You set us back a thousand years. Please read more and work on your personal growth. And learn to be more kind to others online too.
So, back to my experiences as a Leader who is a woman; I am the founder of a tech startup and work with a team of 6 brilliant men. We are a strong team. All of them have been nothing but supportive and respectful from the outset. No covert attacks. Just people who share the same mission as me. They are that calibre of man that have sufficient confidence and decency as not to seek to oppress me. They appear to see me, my worth, my ability and they let me be me. And they help me to be a better me professionaly.
By contrast, I have experienced some covert sexist comments/attacks in my life. I don't have a script for you but here's my wisdom;
? Covert attacks are passive-aggressive. This is one of the most unpleasant and difficult-to-deal with personality types.
? As a general rule, it is best to respond to covert sexist attacks with an overt, calm-assertive response that refers to the attack.
? I will say this though, pick your battles. If you find that you are having to deal with repeated or frequent attacks, remove the person from your life. If that's not easy, limit your exposure to the person. If that's not possible, ie, if you work with this person, raise a complaint. Deal with it. Be aware that in dealing with it you may cause other sexist men to draw ranks against you. You have to be prepared for a battle.
? Sometimes, you will have to ignore a covert sexist attack if it threatens to pull you from your focus/destiny. As founders, we have to single mindely pursue our goals and any negative person can suck an enormous amount of emotional and psychological energy if you let them. Don't stop to correct every single transgression that you come across. You cannot police the entire universe. If it doesn't threaten your chosen path and your mission, you may just have to keep on moving and ignore it.
? When you challenge covert sexism, thing beforehand what outcome you are seeking. Do you want to create a change in the person? Do you want to set a boundary? Do you want to communicate that your feelings have been hurt? Do you want that person to walk away and never look back? What do you want to achieve? Give this some thought before you open your mouth to respond. This is wisdom. Thinking first before responding.
I look forward to the shared experiences of other women who have dealt with or are dealing with this stuff.