A Tech CEO Transitioned, Was Shocked by What She Found

Natalie Egan quickly discovered how differently she was treated as a woman
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2021 10:25 AM CDT
A Tech CEO Transitioned, and Got a Rude Awakening
Stock photo of a tech start-up.   (Getty Images)

When it comes to knowing how male and female entrepreneurs are treated differently, it's hard to argue that Natalie J. Egan knows it best. Egan was assigned male at birth and raised as a boy, and a decade ago she was a full-on "tech bro," writes Stephanie Clifford for Elle: In 2009 Egan founded a tech-sales company called PeopleLinx, pulled in $7 million in investments, and cultivated a culture of "chest bumps and kegs," Egan says. "Even as the company grew, we were having arm-wrestling competitions." But by 2015 things were bottoming out: The CEO Egan had hired ended up firing her; Egan's marriage was ending. And then there was her "cross-dressing problem," as Egan puts it. Egan reached out to a friend who had transitioned asking for help "quitting" cross-dressing.

Instead, the friend gave Egan a supporting prod and went out with her in public—with Egan dressed as a woman. It was an ah-ha moment, with Egan realizing she was trans. That realization led her to a dark place: Egan decided the next day the only option was to commit suicide. A chance run-in with a college "bro" friend on the way home turned everything around. She began transitioning, and in spring 2016 launched a second tech company Translator. She set up 20 investor meetings, many with former backers, and was floored by how she was received. "They didn't take me seriously at all." She managed to secure funding, but found herself in a different landscape: She was regularly "mansplained" to, men talked over her, and she describes being left standing at meetings when there weren't enough chairs. "I remember being in shock, and thinking, 'Oh, this is what women have been talking about the whole time.'" (Read the full story.)

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