Over the course of her career, Fran Hauser has held some impressive positions at the world’s largest digital media businesses, including PEOPLE, Entertainment Weekly, and AOL. Six years ago, she left the media world to become a start-up investor who largely invests in female founders — she was even named one of Business Insider’s “30 Women In Venture Capital to Watch in 2018.”
In 2018, Hauser also published her first book, The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving A Career You Love Without Becoming A Person You Hate. The book was named an Amazon Best Business Book of 2018, Audible’s Best Business Book of 2018 and one of Goodreads’ highest–rated career books of 2018.
Hauser recently told Feminist.com why she wrote the book, what she’s learned as an investor in women, and what feminism means to her.
In 2018, you published a book entitled “The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving A Career You Love Without Becoming A Person You Hate.” What inspired you to write the book?
I first started thinking about this book in 2009 when I was President of Digital at People magazine. The most commonly asked question I got from younger women was, ”How can you be so nice and still be successful?“ I was spending a lot of time talking about this, and when I looked around to see if there were any resources on the topic, all I found were books about how nice girls don’t get the corner office! So there was definitely space for a book on the power of kindness, compassion, and empathy in the workplace.
But then life got in the way, as it does. I had my first son in 2010, and my second in 2011. My job kept getting bigger at Time Inc. So I shelved the book idea until 2016, two years after I had left the big corporate job and was working for myself as a startup investor. Truthfully I am so happy that it turned out this way. The book is so much more relevant and timely now than it would have been ten years ago, given everything that is going on in the world.
Throughout your career, you’ve occupied many high power leadership positions. What do you think has, and has not, changed when it comes to the many issues women face in the workplace?
From increasing the number of women in their talent pipeline to implementing retention initiatives, boards and executive teams are prioritizing diversity and inclusion. I don’t think companies are moving fast enough, though, when it comes to creating policies and cultures that truly work for women. I would like to see stronger maternity leave options, an investment in women returning from maternity leave or re-entering the workforce, and more all-around flexibility. We also need to get to a place where women and men are paid equally. I regularly encourage women that I mentor to have the confidence to ask for more
As a venture capitalist, you often work with female entrepreneurs. What are some of the struggles they tell you about being a woman in such a male–dominated sphere — and why is it so important to you to support them?
Fundraising is easier to do when you have a network that supports it. One of the struggles I hear consistently from female founders is that they have a hard time getting in front of the right investors (who are predominantly male). I also hear that when they do get the investor meeting, that often the investor can’t relate to the product or service they are launching. It’s important to me that I get female founders in front of the right investors and that I champion them. There is a huge amount of value creation and impact that should not be left on the table. And because I CAN be helpful, I feel that I have the responsibility to do so.
What does feminism in this day and age (and political climate) mean to you?
Feminism to me means that women are given the same opportunities as men and are equally valued in all aspects of their lives — whether that’s in the workplace, in their homes, or in a nonprofit setting. It means that not only should companies value and implement the types of policies I mentioned earlier, but that our government should do so as well.
You can visit Fran’s website at www.franhauser.com
Julie Zeilinger is the Founding Editor of the blog The FBomb, an international blog for socially conscious teens which is now partnered with the Women’s Media Center. She is the author of the nonfiction books A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word (Seal Press) and College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year (Prufrock Press), and currently serves as Supermajority's Content Strategist.