The Accidental Activist and Unintentional Feminist

Hello.  My name is Patti and I am an accidental activist and unintentional feminist.

A decade ago if you introduced yourself to me as an “accidental activist and feminist”, I probably would’ve smiled politely, shook hands and figured out how to exit the conversation without appearing rude.  I held pre-conceived notions of what a feminist and activist was.  I now know differently because I am both.

I didn’t become an activist and feminist because I am a man-hater.  Instead, I changed because I am an economist who believes that real innovation will come from growth and I believe that growth will come from getting 50% of the world’s populations equal access to any position they are qualified to fill.  Putting the Seat Down was founded on these beliefs.


Patti participating in panel discussion.

My ah-ha moment

I began pursuing my doctorate in organizational leadership about 10 years ago.  I was in my early thirties with a professional career based solely in the male dominated world of enterprise technology.

My ah-ha moment happened in a required leadership theory course that included feminist leadership studies. I started to notice things in my professional life like “Wow, I am always the only woman in the room” or “Wow, there aren’t any women in senior executive positions who actually stick around.”  And with a little more reading came “Wow, the women senior executives who made the top X list of leaders to watch were displaced within a few years.”

Where are all the women?

So I did what any good scholar in training would do. I read a lot of research to find some answers.  I found some, but the research was new and left me frustrated. Scholars and popular culture journalists were looking at middle management levels in technology.  They were barely looking at real influencer positions in engineering or leadership.

When I couldn’t find any good research on the highest level of leadership, the boardroom, or the C-Suite talent pool that ultimately fill those directorship seats, I decided to find the answers myself.  And my dissertation topic was born.

I found all the women!

It’s been about 6 years now that I began spending a lot of time researching, advocating, and networking in the world of high growth entrepreneurship.  I wrote my dissertation on the highly successful women who hold board positions in technology and life sciences businesses so we could learn from them.

Many of these women were entrepreneurs just like you and me.  Some came from pedigree schools like Stanford or Harvard where networking becomes just as important as classroom work.  But most are just like me, middle class background, went to good-enough schools, and work very, very hard.

Bringing it all together and giving it to you

I have built a solid network in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  My friends are venture capitalists, private equity investors, angels, serial entrepreneurs, deal-makers, CMOs, CFOs, board members. They are the men and women who hold the knowledge and the connections to help entrepreneurs shape the future by growing their businesses today. Through PSDNetwork and my blog, I can share my network and their wisdom with you.

Your turn: are you a recent entrepreneur? Tell us how you leveraged your personal and professional networks to start your business.

Read my upcoming post “When you look in the mirror, do you see an entrepreneur staring back at you?” We’ll talk about the real face of business founders and leaders… and that face is yours!

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About the author
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Patti’s blog is a mishmash of research and advocacy mixed with her personal experiences as technology executive and first-time high growth entrepreneur, working mother, and wannabe athlete.


Julie Zaccaria

2013-03-05 19:12:26 Reply

Bravo Patti! Those all too important “ah ha” moments ( I love how the word “ha”is stuck in there) are life changing. I was day dreaming about turning back the clock the other day and wondered how many of those moments I may have missed!! Sometimes taking time to stop, breathe, and listen will quiet the soul and allow a person to reach out and grab all of the “ah haha’s.” This isn’t always easy for the working moms but it is possible.

Proud of you ! xo JZ

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