When is a woman doing woman-things, and when is she just doing?
I recently had a story requested by a publication that appears to be for all entrepreneurs, regardless of age or gender, or anything else as far as I can tell. I was a little hesitant, because my stories don’t seem to get much traffic on that site. But I agreed it was otherwise a really good fit in a good publication, so I gratefully let it go in.
Sure enough, the views were about a quarter of what I would usually expect. I wanted to know why that was. Some writers may feel that worrying about numbers of views is irrelevant, but I like to consider if the content I write adds value to anyone’s day, and if the time I spend on it is useful to others. That is important to me.
So I compared my stories’ titles and photos to my more often-read ones in other publications, and couldn’t see much of a difference in how they might attract attention. There didn’t seem to be a difference in quality as far as they go, or to be on a particularly specialist topic.
Then I realised that this publication has a “Women” label across the headings bar. When I clicked on it, I found all the stories I had written for that publication on that page. But not one of them was written “for women” or about gender issues as an entrepreneur. They were simply about being an entrepreneur, and sharing lessons learned in leadership and management over a long career.
Just because I am writing and female, am I writing about women’s things?
I tried to do a little math, and guesstimated that probably less than half of that publication’s followers were women, maybe much less. I made the assumption that the chances of their male readers (apart from the most enlightened) choosing to click on the “Women” tab to read up on female entrepreneurs’ issues was pretty slim. Therefore it was no surprise that the number of readers finding my story could be much fewer than on a gender-neutral page where some of the writers happened to be women.
Or maybe my reasoning is all wrong. I would be very interested in hearing others’ views on when knowledge and experience shared by a woman is Writing for Women, and when it is just a female human sharing lessons, or stories, or whatever, with her fellow humans.
This is an issue that seems to be following me, as I have written about trying to find business and entrepreneurial texts authored by women in the past. In that instance, I though it would be good to have male and female perspectives on many of the challenges I face. I was not seeking books about issues that specifically effect female entrepreneurs. I simply wanted to also read books from a female perspective, in order to add depth to my learning. It wasn’t easy to find them.
It feels like a tricky and subtle, yet important, difference.
I love writing for Code Like a Girl, for instance. I always feel so proud when I have something in there. I also love reading everyone else’s stories, and often they are stories of human experience from a female perspective. It has meant so much to me to find this community as a very late starting Woman in Tech. And I do think I have lots to share from my previous career as a female leader in a male-dominated environment. And I hope that other women find it useful when I write about it.
But I also hope that all readers would find it useful. Because, most of the time I just like being a person. I like not being defined by anything other than what I am up to, or what I have accomplished, what I am capable of, or my delightful personal qualities, and so on- and not by my gender.
Women writers need to be read by everyone.
Our experiences, our intellect, our perspectives on things, are all valuable. In some cases they are different to men’s. In many cases they are not. But they are half of the story, the left eye added to the right eye to create a picture of such depth that learners can rest assured they are getting the whole story.
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I write about how I became the founder of a tech startup as a non-techie, over-40 female with no entrepreneurial experience, and all I am learning along the way. You can see more here: https://medium.com/@eshassere If you think this might be helpful for others on their entrepreneurial journey, please recommend and share by clicking the heart.