Penelope Trunk is an entrupreneur and writer. She has a mixed reputation among geek feminists because she both writes about personal lived experiences as they affect her career, but also regards women in particular and diversity in general as problematic for startups.


In 2009 Trunk tweeted that she was having a miscarriage:

"I'm in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there's a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin."

She experienced widespread criticism of her tweet (eg Lindsay Robertson on Jezebel) but later wrote that miscarriage is a workplace event:

Most miscarriages happen at work. Twenty-five percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Seventy-five percent of women who are of child-bearing age are working. Most miscarriages run their course over weeks. Even if you are someone who wanted the baby and are devastated by the loss, you’re not going to sit in bed for weeks. You are going to pick up your life and get back to it, which includes going back to work.
This means that there are thousands of miscarriages in progress, at work, on any given day. That we don’t acknowledge this is absurd. That it is such a common occurrence and no one thinks it’s okay to talk about is terrible for women.
Throughout history, the way women have gained control of the female experience is to talk about what is happening, and what it's like. We see that women's lives are more enjoyable, more full, and women are more able to summon resilience when women talk openly about their lives.

Commentary on women and diversity in startups

  • October 9 2010: Women Don't Want To Run Startups Because They'd Rather Have Children: "Women are under real pressure to have kids, though. They have a biological clock. So women who are the typical age of entrepreneurs—25—need to be looking for someone to mate with. Think about it. If you want to have kids before you’re 35—when your biological clock explodes—then you need to start when you’re 30… And I’m not even going to go into the idea of women having a startup with young kids. It is absolutely untenable. The women I know who do this have lost their companies or their marriages or both."
  • August 3, 2011: Are Startups Better as Single-Gender Affairs?: "If you want to know why you shouldn’t do a startup with women (if you’re a man)… It’s a distraction… I have done three startups and each time it has been with a male co-founder. And each time, the fact that I am female has been a distraction to us. It has been a source of friction. When I was young, people thought my co-founder and I were a couple. (This is not surprising. The majority of male-female co-founder situations for a funded startup have a sex component.)…. The problem is that men and women are different at work, and the intensity of a startup magnifies these differences ten-fold. [Original author's emphasis.]"
  • October 23 2011: Why Diversity Is Bad For Startups: "[In a diverse group we] learn from each other constantly, because we approach problems so differently. We constantly have to rethink why we do everything, because our partner asks us constantly: Why?… You do not want this in a startup. In a startup, during the fragile time between when you think of the idea and when you get to the A round, you are likely to go under. You are likely to not move fast enough and therefore run out of money."

Domestic violence

TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

In 2011/2012 Trunk discussed being a domestic violence victim, and her decision to stay with her abuser, arguing that other domestic violence victims should do likewise.

External links

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