“When something is in the dark it can’t be dealt with”: Julie Hanna on sexism in the Valley, confidence gaps and Donald Trump
We have a bit of a curveball in this week’s “Uterus is a feature” podcast: Julie Hanna.
Hanna is an incredibly accomplished entrepreneur and investor in the Valley, so that part isn’t strange. But unlike every other guest we’ve had on this show Hanna is not a mother.
So why did we ask her to come on? To provide a contrast point to the conversation we’ve been having on this podcast all year, for one thing. Part of what’s so damaging about maternal bias is that all women face it at some point, whether they have children or not. Indeed, women who do not have kids, face their own kind of bias. For instance: Women without children work more unpaid overtime on average than any other group. After all, they don’t have kids to pick up or a family to support, right? It’s this kind of institutional pitting of women against women that has lead to the “Catty woman” myth.
Hanna has channeled that maternal instinct into mentoring startups instead, drawing on many of the same strengths that other women on the show have described.
Hanna and I also had a great conversation about sexism in the Valley and how it’s changed over her career, and how she-- like so many women we’ve interviewed-- insisted it didn’t exist for many years. We talked about her shift from “one of the guys” to tapping into her feminine strengths as a manager and investor. She gave one of the best answers I’ve heard yet to the question of what to make of the sudden increase in female #2 executives at startups.
And she even offered a ray of hope on this whole Donald Trump thing: “I actually believe this election will be a great gift to society,” she says. “It’ll prove a catalyst that helped us make a major leap forward around equality. Like a flu shot mobilizing the immune system to make it stronger. When something is in the dark it can’t be dealt with.”
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