A war of words erupted on LinkedIn over the weekend when Telstra’s head of security services Jacqui McNamara took issue with an article by Startup Foundation founder Daniel Mumby about the lack of women in startup land.
Mumby’s article, ‘Ladies, get off your ‘buts’ and build your business, no one will do it for you’ drew fire from McNamara who said she was “horrified today to find in my newsfeed an article mansplaining about how women need to get off their butts.”
The article was “complete with graphics of various shaped women’s rear ends, no I’m not kidding and I do mean today, in 2017,” McNamara said in her post. [Mumby has since removed the image and replaced it with another one.]
In a startup sector struggling to create a culture of gender diversity, Mumby said that although women make stronger and better entrepreneurs than men, few will ever take the “leap of faith” and start a business.
He argues that there are too many ‘buts’ (yes, pun intended): 'But I have a family to look after’, ‘But I have a house to clean’, ‘But I don’t have the skills’. He suggests women watch the movie Joy, which is “the exemplar of how to overcome every single ‘but’ and more".
“Seriously, if you’ve carried a child and given birth, the idea of imagining and building a business is easy by comparison,” Mumby said in his article.
“And if you’ve ever raised a child, growing a business is easy by comparison,” he said.
McNamara claimed that “successive complaints of disgust and shock were met by the author with encouragement to lighten up.”
“Frighteningly, one or two women joined the posse to say they had developed thick skin and found it funny. You know, I used to be one of the boys too, and I learned to laugh at jokes and comments designed to marginalise my gender," McNamara wrote.
“I put up with sexism and misogyny daily and I felt tough about it. But I wasn’t tough, I was hiding, being inauthentic and sacrificing my core beliefs to get along and get ahead. Actually, it didn’t really get me ahead either. The best thing I ever did is realised this self sabotaging behaviour created an environment where the privileged few get to bully the others. It does the bullies and the bullied no good at all.”
McNamara said diversity and inclusion are important because they create a culture where everyone can be authentic and bring their best.
“It’s time to ask LinkedIn and other social media sites aimed at professionals to stay professional and limit bullying and misogyny. I’ve really had enough. Who’s with me?” she said.
There were more than 140 comments at time of publication including a short discussion between Mumby and McNamara on the issue of gender diversity, bullying and inclusion in the workplace. The social media joust, which ended with McNamara confirming that she wasn't seeking to intimidate Mumby, "just calling out inappropriate behaviour where I see it," can be seen here.
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