Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Related, a thoughtful response to the post below: There’s No Ceiling if You Start at the Top! Women in Digital Publishing and Tech
Tim Carmody, who writes for The Verge, noted that high-profile NYC publishing start-up Oyster was built by 8 men and not a single woman. Yes, that’s pretty typical, even though two-thirds of heavy book readers are woman and 80% of employees working for publishers are women.
So why are start-ups in publishing so dominated by men?
Well, first, this is true for most technology start-ups (as opposed to more conventional publishing start-ups) and tech start-ups *in* publishing like Oyster, Jellybooks (my start-up), Unbound, Wattpad and others are no exception.
Start-ups come with immense risks and often insane working hours. They attract the very young (you are considered “old” when you are in your 30s or 40s). Men and women in their twenties often have very different appetites for risk and different outlooks on what an acceptable work-life balance is (for a founding team work *is* life).
Another reasons is that early-stage tech start-ups are very engineering heavy and engineering and coding tend to be industries dominated by men. Maybe that has something to do with their introvert nature whereas publishing is a fairly extrovert industry. There are many superb female coders, of course, but they are sadly in the minority.
Design is becoming more and more important in technology start-ups, but this is often deisgn that is of the engineering heavy kind, requiring hands-on skills in front-end development, which, again, is an area currently dominated by men.
Once start-ups mature and need marketers, community managers and other more positions that have a higher presence of women, women become more visible in start-ups. Also, once a start-up has 20, 30, 50 or more employees it tends to be a more stable company with more predictable working hours and that seems to shift the male/female ratio significantly, too.
I would be remiss if I did not call out some of the exceptions, such as Liza Daily, co-founder of Threepress (now part of Safari Online), Virgina Murduch of Booki.sh (now part of Overdrive), Anna Lewis of Valobox (still independent) and Miral Satter of Bibliocrunch (another NYC start-up) — and I’m sure there are others. Sincere apologies to those ladies I’ve left out! Maybe somebody can compile a complete list?