It seems like being a woman entrepreneur is a tough job. And not because of anything but the fact very often they are often at the receiving end of sexist comments and even sexual advances by investors and venture capitalists when they seek funding.
In the latest reported incident, New York Times reports that an entrepreneur Sarah Kunst approached 500 Startups for a job. In the recruiting process, founder Dave McClure sent her a message on Facebook that read in part, â€śI was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you.â€ť
Sarah, who now runs a fitness start-up, told NYT that she declined McClureâ€™s advance and when she later discussed the message with one of McClureâ€™s colleagues, 500 Startups ended its conversations with her.
When contacted by NYT, 500 Startups said that McClure was no longer in charge of day-to-day operations after an internal investigation.
A day after the NYT report was published, McClure posted in a Medium post on Saturday evening, said that his actions have cost him the executive position at the firm he founded. He admitted that he made unwanted advances on several women at work while taking advantage of his position.
â€śI made advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriateâ€¦I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better. My behavior was inexcusable and wrong,â€ť he said in his post.
And itâ€™s not just Sarah Kunst whoâ€™s been the victim or just McClure whose behavior has been questionable.
The New York Times reports that several female entrepreneurs it spoke to recounted incidents where they have been propositioned while seeking a job, received suggestive messages and even faced numerous sexist comments from an investor while raising money.
And whatâ€™s worse is that when brought to their attention, the investorsâ€™ firms and colleagues ignored or played down what had happened further warning them that it might lead to ostracism.
In April, several reports surfaced in India alleging sexual misconduct against VC firm Seedfundâ€™s partner Mahesh Murthy dating back to 2003. More than three women spoke up about instances of inappropriate conduct ranging from inappropriate electronic messages to verbal advances to physical grabbing by Mahesh.
Seedfund advisors also reportedly knew of Maheshâ€™s inappropriate behavior with women but received no complaints or had any proof to take action against him.
However, in this situation, Murthy denied allegations, terming them false and even filed a case of defamation in the Delhi High Court against â€śspecific defendants.â€ť