Your Connection to Gender Discrimination

Adnan Mahmud
3 min readAug 7, 2017


My Dearest Aleena and Yara,

Happy Birthday! Yara, you just turned two and Aleena, you just turned four. I’m enjoying seeing you play together, learn to share, and even fight with each other! :)

You both really like Disney princesses. You watch Moana at least once a day. More progressive than other Disney heroines, Moana is the daughter of a chief who sheds the traditional views of women staying home, goes out to the sea by herself, and delivers new opportunities to her people. I can’t help but compare this story to how women are treated in our world.

Women are objectified everywhere, including in tech industry where I work. Harassment allegations have been reported for a while, but I am happy to see that they are finally being addressed as a serious matter. Only a handful of these incidents get reported. Among all these incidents the common theme seems to be men who think money and position entitle them to do anything they want. I have encountered these attitudes firsthand.

Two years ago, I was trying to raise investment funding for LiveStories. I had never raised capital before and we only had four people on the team. In an investor meeting in Seattle, after I introduced myself and my experience, the investor said, “You are the founder of Jolkona? Man, your wife is really hot.” I brushed it off and he repeated, “No dude, I am serious. She is super hot. You are so lucky.” I changed the topic again. I told your mom about this and never took money from that investor. While this was infuriating to me, women have it much worse as they are affected directly by this kind of behavior.

Women are also under represented in the tech industry. Nearly 90% of partners in the largest investment companies are men. Just last year (2016), women founders got only $1.5B in investment while their male counterparts got $65B (according to Pitchbook). But, this is not a problem unique to the tech industry.

The chart below shows the median salary for men and women in every state. Women on average earn 70% of what their male counterparts earn.

Even in our hometown of Seattle, which claims to be very progressive, the wage gap is worse than any other comparable city in America. LiveStories just published the comparison report this week. It has been great to see the discussions started by this report.

America is the land of opportunity and the year is 2017. Yet, your mother will probably earn less than me for the exact same job because she is a woman. Your mother and I will continue to do whatever we can to improve the situation. We will continue to speak out and take action against inequality through our professional and personal lives. We will need to do more.

No matter how much we do, you will have the opportunity to make an even bigger impact. You must not stand on the sidelines.

Surround yourself with people who believe in equal rights. As you grow up, challenge your networks to have zero tolerance for discrimination of any form. Staying silent is not enough. The only right action is to speak out. If you are discriminated against, be brave and speak out, no matter the odds. Defending yourself doesn’t only benefit you. It inspires others who are not able to speak out.

May you give voice to the voiceless!





Adnan Mahmud

Love making things that people value. #father #entrepreneur @LiveStoriesCom @Jolkona @MSFT