Female Founder Starts a Meme – By Just Calling Herself a Founder

It all began when a CEO and founder “was thinking about identity and the peppy phrases that female professionals use to describe themselves online: ‘girl bosses’ and the like,” reports the New York Times:

“I worry about the negative impact of that,” Ashley Sumner, 32, said. “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. I do believe that women need to help inspire other women but also that identity can be used as labels to separate us.”

Ms. Sumner is the chief executive officer of Quilt, an audio platform for conversations about self-care topics like wellness in the workplace, PTSD and astrology. (In prepandemic days, the company organized work gatherings and group discussions in people’s homes.) She has felt marginalized in the woman section of founders’ circles. “I am always asked to speak on the female founders panel,” Ms. Sumner said. “I want to be asked to speak on the panel….”

On LinkedIn, she had never done more than repost someone else’s articles or musings. But given that platform’s focus on professional life, she thought it was a reasonable place to first share her handiwork. Ms. Sumner’s post has drawn nearly 20,000 comments, from men and women in the United States, Australia, Africa, Latin America, India and beyond; from executives, construction workers, health care employees, professors and military professionals…

More than 150 female founders posted similar photos of themselves, crossing out the word “female,” and then shared what was now credibly a meme on the internet.
Although not everyone in the Times’ article agrees with that position, Sumner is arguing that “putting my gender in front of what I am belittles what I’ve accomplished.”

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