Why I no longer speak at International Women’s Day events

Sarah Drinkwater
3 min readMar 8, 2024

I very rarely use Facebook these days but sometimes I get a notification about the flashback feature that makes me pause. Like:

Because today, the first text I saw was from a well-meaning VC friend:

This is a tale of two International Women’s Days, nine years apart, and why, despite having spent time voluntarily helping, speaking at or organising diversity in technology initiatives for 14 years (about a third of all my life, and most of my time working in the technology industry) I no longer speak at or attend events on this day.

Go back to that last text.

On pushing, the investor said the dinner wasn’t sector focused; if you flip it, that’s like me running a sector-agnostic dinner in the city I live in and not being able to think of a single male founder I could invite.

This came on the same day Hussein Kanji unwisely went on the record with what I’m sure a lot of male GPs think; that of the 350+ female partners that exist in European venture, none made the grade for join their all-male partnership.

It just made me realise; all that work and we don’t even make the shortlist.

So two things are true at once:

  • I love and appreciate my all-female networks (many of the investors I most look up to are female)
  • But I also find “talking about being a woman in tech” wildly boring.

Time women spend organising female founder events or even helping well-meaning friends diversify their dinner tables is time the vast majority of our male peers don’t spend. They’re too busy working.

So I will follow their lead and focus this Friday on Common Magic.

A few months back another well-meaning male contact got in touch to recommend me a founder:

My fund has no diversity mandate.

Nothing on the website; nothing in my thesis.

I hope to invest in the best and that means founders of all types, including the many female founders I’ve backed as an angel and fund. If there’s one thing I observe in the female founders I’ve invested in, it’s that they’re often twice as good and get half as much. It’s a luxury to get to be mediocre.

Sometimes you win merely by showing up time and time and time again.

By keeping going when others can’t or won’t.

By willing to risk absolute ridicule (I’ve survived that multiple times).

By understanding that however seductive it is to think it’s them not you, introspection and self-knowledge are super powers (this last tip is more for my male allies).

Happy International Women’s Day. May we one day not need you.



Sarah Drinkwater

Solo GP Common Magic, investing in products with community at their core. Into communities, the best uses of technologies, London, looks and books.