American entrepreneur Ashley Sumner recently posted a picture of herself on social media which had the words “I am a female founder.” Sumner made the post in an attempt to express her opinion about the bias surrounding women in workplaces, particularly in the entrepreneurship space. Her caption read, “I am a founder. By putting my gender in front of what I am belittles what I’ve accomplished, and reminds women how few of us get to where I am. I’m ready to drop the gender and get right to the work I’m doing. 😉 Who’s with me?” Sumner is the CEO of Quilt, an audio social app for real-time conversations.
The thought-provoking post has since garnered attention from women and men alike. It has successfully initiated a conversation about whether or not specifying gender diminishes women’s accomplishments.
In an environment where phrases like Girl Boss, Boss Lady, and Womenpreneur are used in abundance, Sumner fears labelling undermines a woman’s abilities and achievements. As she told Vogue Business, “I worry that it allows investors to see founders who are women as a separate class from the rest of the founders. I worry it allows investors to write women founders smaller checks.”
Among the thousands of comments on her post supporting the idea of subtracting the mention of gender from the designation and accomplishment equation, there is also a contrast to the discussion. Few are also of the belief that women deserve the transparency and showcase of their leadership performances.
Whether one agrees with Sumner or not, the effort towards gender neutrality and against gender bias remains a real struggle amongst innumerable working women.