Startup Women: Walk the “Lean In” Talk

This article is written by Gina O’Reilly – COO at Nitro and champion of having more women working in technology via a ‘complementary collaboration’ approach. 

I’m a huge champion of women in tech (especially in startups), so events like Startup Weekend Melbourne Women (#WOMENSWMELB) really get me jazzed. As host of the very first pre-event bootcamp and a sponsor of the main event, we at Nitro were lucky to get a front row seat to the action.


We’re most impressed by the winning team, First Curled Problems, for successfully pitching a fun, innovative concept that took the house down. And a big congrats to Michele McArdle, who recently won our Nitro #PopUpOffice for a year at our Melbourne office, we hope this prize will help launch your education startup in bigger, better ways.

I’m not really surprised that these awesome Aussie entrepreneurs are kicking butt, because Nitro’s been reaping the benefits of a strong female presence for years. In fact, 30% of our employees are women, and I can’t tell you how refreshing that is in Silicon Valley where the bulk of the workforce is men. This gender imbalance means that most companies are severely lacking the complementary talents that ladies bring
to the table.

So what can women do to bridge this gender gap? We should embrace our unique characteristics and engage in complementary collaboration with the men in our workplaces, by:

Being Authentic: Women often feel they have to act a certain way in the workplace. This is particularly common in leadership roles because people assume you need a hard ass attitude to get ahead. But a lack of sincerity can be felt a mile away and just perpetuates the problem.

Playing to our Strengths: Rather than worrying about the skills you might be lacking, recognize your talents and double down on them. Most women, irrespective of their position, bring perceptiveness and emotional IQ that’s critical for leading teams and growing a business.

Rising above the B.S.: It’s simply not true that all women enjoy gossip. By establishing a zero tolerance policy for this unnecessary, unhealthy and unproductive behavior, we can help to quash that stereotype.

Supporting One Another: It’s important for female colleagues to have each other’s backs, and avoid contributing to a competitive environment. Connect with other women in your company and industry by organizing your own casual meetups, or attending a powerful skill-building event like #WOMENSWMELB.

Introducing and Leading Change: Don’t complain about something that you could absolutely lay a hand in improving. Instead, take the bull by the horns and pave the way for change. In my opinion, women are natural born leaders and the “matriarch mentality” can be a strong driving
force within a business.

What else can women do to bridge the gender gap?