Can Indian Women Handle Startups ?

Suruchi Wagh
Suruchi Wagh

After running an Internet product start-up in India for the past 1 year, I have started believing that women can be great start-up employees and our start-up eco-system needs more of them. But on the other hand I always have to probe each girl applicant in a job interview on how ambitious she is about her career.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook

Lets look at both sides of the coin. Disclaimer – I am not a women activist nor am I a feminist 🙂

Here’s why I feel that women can be great assets to any start-up –

1. Women are great “People” persons
May it be adjusting with in-laws or their extended families or raising kids or dealing with the house-maids – women are people persons through and through.

They can communicate well, are compassionate when needed and can be stern as per the situation. They can hold on to their teams much more strongly.

2. Women are always multi-tasking and iterating fast
Have you ever looked into your own house – how much your mother can manage? May it be teaching kids while they are getting fed or managing uninvited guests while running late for work – running a house well is one of the most daunting tasks anyone can face. I feel that women can adapt to things faster. If they can do it at home, why can’t they be task-masters at start-ups!

3. Women have much more to prove
Indian society expects a little too much out of a woman. No matter that she works equally hard in the outside world, she still needs to come home and prove herself as a great home-maker. Their hardships hone them to not only take pressure well but also perform as they go about it. They have it in them to prove against all odds and not give-up, which is a very useful quality for a start-up!

Unfortunately for us, the actual scenario is not like this. I feel Indian women themselves do not want to take a stand and be in the limelight, they prefer being in the shadow and play a supportive role.

Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook and ex-VP at Google) said very rightly in a recent commencement speech at the Barnard college that

“Women leave, before they have to leave! For e.g. most women start thinking of their kids on the day they get engaged and end up taking back seats in their careers”.

For all you chicks – who do well in engineering colleges and b-schools, where do you disappear after graduating? For few of you who are involved in start-ups, the world doesn’t know about you because at most times you don’t own your success. You can’t be shy of telling the world how good you are. Speak up and voice your opinion. People who speak up are seeked for.

For all you fellow founders –

I can relate to your concerns of business continuity and commitment by young women team members – But, trust me, there are lot of bright young girls out there, who are ambitious. Give them a chance and you would see the value they can add to your start-up!

What’s your take?

Update: Based on comments, we have *also* added Suruchi’s pic to the post, in order to keep it contextual.

[About Suruchi Wagh : Suruchi is very passionate about consumer web and believes that quality Internet products can come out of India. Suruchi is also the Founder & CEO of nextLeap. In the past, she has worked as a Research Analyst in the Office of the President of the Silicon Valley based Risk Management Solutions Inc (RMS). She is available on Twitter at @waghsuruchi.
Image: Sheryl Sandberg, credit]

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