Why a LinkedIn Post About Gender Started a Debate

In a start-up economy of self-described “Boss Babes”, Ashley Sumter is known in simple terms.

In early March on a run near her home in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, Ms. Sumner was thinking about identity and using phrases that female professionals used to describe themselves online: “Girl Boss” and such.

“I worry about the negative impact of that,” Ms. Sumner, 32, said. “I am concerned that it allows investors to see founders who are women as a separate class from the rest of the founders. I worry that it allows investors Write female founders small check. I believe that women need to help inspire other women but also that identity can be used as a label to separate us. “

Ms. Sumer is the Chief Executive Officer quilt, a Audio forum For conversations about self-care topics such as well-being in the workplace, PTSD and astrology. (In prependemic days, the company organized Business meeting and group discussion In people’s homes.)

She has felt marginalized in the women’s section of the founders. “I’ve always been asked to speak on a panel of female founders,” Ms. Sumner said. “I want to be asked to speak on the panel.”

Since she is in the business of discussion, she wonders if she can start with the central question. “When is the labeling successful in support and celebration of furthering our mission of equality and when is it the ‘other’ and hurting this mission?”

She ran home, got sweaty on her computer, took out a few words and uprooted them on a picture of herself. “I am a female founder, “She typed, then dramatically crossed over the word” woman “and added a caption, which read in part:” What I’m doing by putting my penis in front of what I’m doing. ” “

Ms. Sumner is not particularly active on Instagram or Twitter. On LinkedIn, he never did more than repost someone else’s articles or issues. But keeping that stage focus on professional life, he thought it was a proper place to share his handiwork first.

Ms. Sumer’s Post has drawn nearly 20,000 comments from men and women in the United States, Australia, Africa, Latin America, India and beyond; From officers, construction workers, health care workers, professors and military professionals.

After reading it, Kate Urekew, the founder of Revelation experienceA Boston-based marketing firm contacted three successful business owners who wanted to ask them what they thought. Each stated that there is not yet enough representation of women in leadership to ignore gender inequalities. “To change things and truly achieve equality,” said Ms. Trechev, 50, “You need more visibility for women.”

He said: “I like that he started this discussion, it opened my eyes to many more aspects.”

In some of the rarity for a viral social media post, especially a comment about identity, reflects a range of perspectives and is mostly civil.

One man wrote, “This is what we all should listen to.” “Too much identity politics confirms prejudice.”

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” one woman wrote. “We’re still at a point where we’re trying to get the same rung, and it takes awareness, right?”

“Being successful in the business world means you’re accomplishing a great job and in some cases outperforming a man,” one man wrote.

More than 150 female founders posted similar photos of themselves crossing the word “woman” and then shared what was now reliably a meme on the Internet.

One was Antoinetta Mosley, the founder of I follow the leaderA consulting firm specializing in diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, initiatives and education in Durham, NC, “it was a little shocking at first to see a woman who specializes’ was surpassed,” she said. Said of Ms. Sumter’s post. “I immediately clicked to see what he said, and I felt it was really striking.”

Ms. Mosley, 34, said that in seminars of unconscious bias, she asks people to consider race, gender, and other traits that affect statements about people’s professional skills and how they eliminate disparities. Can. “When people see me as a black female leader,” she said, “they are assuming that I am black and that a woman influences my style.”

They believe that these labels can sometimes prevent women from being on equal footing with men. She said that being a black woman is an important part of her identity, but like most people, she too has many dimensions. He believes that his professional traits are the most due to being an athlete and the oldest of four children with parent driven.

55-year-old Ferry Morse, who owns the footwear company Ferrill robin, Was also taken to make it his own Post, Listing the social media lingo of “Boss Babe,” “WomEntrepreneur,” “Girl Boss” and “Momentur”.

He wrote, “Please stop associating those lovely names with women who are ambitious and are fulfilling their dreams with persistence.” “” It’s not empowering any woman. “

Ms. Morse wants other women to see their success and know that they too own a thriving business in the male-dominated industry and want to work, and they believe that being a woman gives them a different and valuable perspective. Get. “But I’m not a female founder,” she said. “I am a founder. end of conversation. Gender should not be described in the world we live in today. It does not define me professionally. “

Ray bablaIs the founder of Playful squadA project management and consulting firm in Kent, England, was fascinated by the reactions to LinkedIn, but says it’s not easy for everyone to fall off the label and forget the struggle and perseverance needed to achieve professional success.

30-year-old Ms. Babola believes that describing herself as the founder of the Black Woman Business shows that she has overcome the double barriers of sexism and racism. And she feels the responsibility to signal to other black women that they too may have a way of owning the business.

“How being a black woman has influenced me, and it has inspired me to be a founder,” she said. “And you can’t be selfish,” he said. “Just because you’ve found a way doesn’t mean it’s okay, now you can be quiet.”

She thinks that identifiers such as “female founders” and “black-owned businesses” are still important. “As long as those words stop the sizzling mind,” he said, they need to be used to remind the world that they remain as a novelty and a minority.

Nikki Thompson of Overland Park, Kan., Said she never shared her opinion on social media, but when she came to Ms. Sumer’s position, she could not resist. “Labeling removes the differences that we must resolve,” he wrote.

As a registered nurse, Ms. Thompson’s responsibilities include continuing education training and paperwork for patients, and are asked about race, gender, generational demographics, religion, and ethnicity in many forms. She understands that data collection is necessary when it relates to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. But she questions the value of that data collection in many other aspects of daily life. (Ms. Thompson was happy to answer her age question – she would turn 41 next week – but noted that labeling people’s ages is part of the problem.)

“What if we leave the label, maybe the partisanship will be reduced,” she said. “It’s a daily thing in my career, and I think a lot about words and prejudice and unconscious prejudice and how that can happen.” (She also said that the pendulum can swing either way: she has heard relatives say to their male peers, “I had a male nurse and that was great.”

Surprised by the response to her post, Ms. Sumner acknowledged that many of her experiences are influenced by being a white woman, “all the privileges that tempt her,” she said. “But how do I see myself? How do I identify? As the founder, and as someone who initiates the discussion. “

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