Wired profiles Gouw and Fonstad. Gow describes how, when working as Accel, she felt excluded from certain networking opportunities because she was a woman, and she would use a secret code on her calendar to conceal when she was going to a women’s networking event. That changed when Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In came out, and word spread that the Facebook COO had been conducting all-female salons at her house. Accel’s partners started asking Gouw to target specific women when she attended female networking events. She says her participation in women’s gatherings was now seen as an asset, and she stopped using secret codes on her calendar.
It was literally a 180.
Fonstad tells the story of an all-male engineering team she knew that was developing a hardware prototype. When they showed it to a newly hired female engineer they saw that her longer nails rendered it impossible to use, and the team ended up completely redoing the user interface. Gouw:
These companies are creating technologies that didn’t exist before — business models that didn’t exist before — and going after whole new markets. They’re dealing with complicated decisions and strategies that have no prior art. [With a diverse range of people around the table] you’re going to get a more 360-degree view on the business.