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Five things a startup mum can teach her daughter

Tuesday, 6 May 2014 | By Rebecca McIntosh

It can be tough for women to break into the male-dominated world of tech startups, so what advice could you give your daughter to help her on her way? Here are five handy pieces of advice and wisdom.


1. Be a nerd: Being a nerd means you love something that’s not mainstream. It means you devote all your time and passion to it and that you think differently to all the rest. This, in all probability, will involve some alienation from time to time, but the people you meet on the fringe are cool and they will give you that sense of belonging you seek.


2. Make friends with nerds, especially the computer nerds. So if your daughter is not a coder, IT architect or UX designer you may want to encourage her to befriend Nigel and Penelope doing ‘Ruby’ tutorials in the computer lab. Give her the sense to sniff out their above-average intelligence which inhibits their ability to socialise and participate in ball games like the rest of the class, hunt them down and disrupt!


3. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, support you, challenge you and share their toys. Basically, people who share have been brought up well. But people who share when they are awesome or have awesome commodities are the coolest. What you will find in the startup scene are seasoned campaigners holding out an arm to those idealists coming through. Those who don’t need to give, but give because they remember what it was like.


4. You can have your cake and eat it but someone’s probably got an equity stake in it. Sometimes getting to do what you want means working with a team of people to make it happen and the way the world works means if you do a good job you get rewarded, if you don’t, move jobs or build your own. You must reward others for helping out or else you’ll have no cake, only crumbs.


5. Don’t accept what other people expect of you: Humans are funny and are programmed to put things, including people into boxes. If you study education, you should be a teacher. If you are good at art, you should be a teacher. If you are a girl who is good at maths, you should be a teacher. Explore all options, do heaps of work experience and settle on something that sets your world on fire, whoever you choose to be.


Rebecca McIntosh has been blogging on childcare for 12 months at www.daycaredecisions.com.au and developing a start-up to search and waitlist children for childcare, Daycare Decisions through the iLab incubator program.