Start: May 23, 2000 2:54 AM

Wise-Women List Archive File

Subject: On Being a Woman Web Site Designer

I've had two interesting comments about my being a woman business owner/web designer lately, and I thought I'd share them with you.

I've just taken over maintenance for a site that sells bed linens, etc. It is a husband and wife running the business. After some negotiations, they've decided to hire me (and they just sent over the signed contract yesterday - yay!). The wife said to me in an email, "we are hoping that a woman's perspective will have a better understanding of our products". From that comment, I'd say that was definitely a factor in my landing the contract.

Last week, I was speaking to a client I've had for about three years. She and four other women run a book store in [a southern U.S. city]. We're getting ready to do a few updates to their site. She commented that she enjoys working with me and is really impressed that I'm a woman running my own business and calling my own shots.

I just found it kind of interesting that I got both of these comments recently. I really don't think that much about being a woman running my own business. I'm a PERSON running my own business. I'm doing what I love doing, I know what I'm doing (though I'm always learning), and things are going very well. I'm not up to the income level I want yet, but I know that's only a matter of time. I took a kind of hiatus from running a business last year and went to work for a local company as their "Internet Services Manager". I HATED it, and will NEVER work for someone else again - if I can help it.

I'd hope that someone wouldn't hire me JUST because I'm a woman any more than I wouldn't want someone to be hired just because he's a man. I don't think that's been the case with me. I think word of mouth, my credentials, and my portfolio all have a hand in my getting work. But, it seems that being a woman has helped me - at least in these two instances.

Just thought I'd share this with you. Does anyone else have any instances where being a woman has helped you obtain a web client?

I too have a couple of clients whose decision to hire me was influenced by the fact that I'm a woman. One is a female artist/gallery owner who had a great deal of trouble communicating with her first web designer. She specifically asked her ISP for a referral to a woman, and that turned out to be me.
Another is a non-profit organization for mothers/babies. They wanted a female influence.

I can't think of an instance when it helped me land a contract, but last week it was used as an excuse by an ISP.

I've taken over 2 large sites that were previously maintained by an ISP. After many requests to change certain elements, which included some copyright infringements and a lack of continuity throughout the site (even though they had templates created for them) the site was handed over to me. So I start working and the owner of the site is thrilled with my work, when suddenly the site crashes for 24 hrs. The reason cited by the ISP was "well, that *woman* you hired went in and messed things up".

Yup, that's right. My changes to the simple HTML and new graphic insertion was the reason your server crashed. And because I'm a woman (read:scapegoat), I'm going to believe that and take responsibility.
Luckily, the owner of the site has a good understanding of HTML and knew this was a pile of do-do.

Sadly, the ISP has now lost both the maintenance contract and the hosting as of Thursday. Sucks to be them. :))

I'm certainly in agreement about working for yourself. I run 2 business out of my home now and love it. Not only am I more productive, but I'm here when my kid comes homes from school. Never mind the added bonus of staying in my robe and slippers until 10AM!

Yes yes yes -- I subscribe to the [major U.S. City] Web Women listserv, and there are many job postings put out on that list. A couple of months ago a woman from [major hi-tech company] was looking for a contractor to do a relatively large ASP contract. I approached her, we negotiated and.... we start work this week!!! It helps that the programmers at my company are super good, but I also think it helped that I was a woman and this woman was comfortable working with me. Such a refreshing change from the "old days".

I know what you mean when you say that you want to be hired for the work but its not as simple as that. One has to live with the fact that there happen to be two sexes in this world and there are differences. A woman thinks and feels differently from a man. Therefore, there might be clients who want a feminine perspective...a woman's touch, as one might say, and there would always be clients (most probably other women) who feel more comfortable working with women...just take it as a compliment for who you are :)

Just an interesting observation...

I'm finding that a lot of my male clients are less intimidated by a woman as well. Since I deal almost exclusively with businesses with no real computer or Internet skills, they seem to like the fact that I can go in and explain things in easy to understand language. Also there's none of that "male ego" thing happening.

Of course, I understand that a competent male designer could do the same thing...but it's still hard for some men to admit they don't understand something to another man.

The permanent link for this article is: