What Would She Do: Stathletes Meghan Chayka on Leading in a Male-Dominated Industry
Navigating the entrepreneurial journey is hardly an easy one. It’s a path full of emotional peaks and valleys, constant rejection, long nights, and more. For women, especially, there are additional hurdles to building or leading a business. According to the Veuve Clicquot 2021 Barometer (an annual international survey conducted to provide insight on female entrepreneurship), 57 percent of respondents believed that it is more difficult for a woman to become an entrepreneur than a man. The majority of women surveyed felt that female entrepreneurship makes a balanced family life more challenging, and 92 percent of “wantrapreneurs” believed that female entrepreneurs are inspiring but only 17 percent were able to cite one by name.
Needless to say, there’s much work to be done. A little bit of advice could go a long way for those who are unsure of the path they’ve taken or are simply looking to validate their experiences. In our new leadership-based advice series What Would She Do, we speak to women entrepreneurs and leaders across various industries for the best advice they have to offer others based on their own career paths.
As the co-founder of sports analytics company Stathletes, Meghan Chayka has always believed in the power of data. While Hollywood has glamourized the application of analytics in sports, Chayka was already making a name for herself when she founded her company in 2010. Despite this, working in an industry that is largely male-dominated has not always been easy for Chayka.
What has been your experience entering and leading in a very traditional and male-dominated industry?
My experience has varied greatly but overall I’m very passionate about my space. Certain times and situations have been tough to navigate but I try to align myself with people that share my values and choose clients that I enjoy working with. As I’ve seen more success, some areas of business have become easier while others present challenges. It is hard to break into the “old boys club.”
Have you ever had to navigate a situation where being confident and intentional in your role has been perceived as being “bossy?”
Yes, I definitely think sometimes I’m perceived as overly confident. I am excited by the work that I do and my team behind me. Not everything works perfectly but I try to have good energy regardless of how I’m perceived. I like the saying, “What people think of you is none of your business.” I [like] to think, “Be an exceptional and kind person. Give back more than you take. Create a life that matters to you and others.” This is how I define success.
What advice do you have for other women who work in similar spaces and are looking to make an impact?
My advice is to always find a sector or problem you’re really passionate about solving. Hire great people and allow them to build areas of the business that they are passionate about. I think when you align goals and great people, magic happens in startups.
How did you get comfortable sharing your accomplishments and promoting your work?
I think you learn that brand awareness, whether for yourself or your business, is a big part of growing a company and recruiting. I learned early on to post successes (and reflect on failures). I make sure I use each social media platform in different ways to reach the intended audience.
How can other women be encouraged to celebrate their success more?
Start sharing today! You can also celebrate other women on your team or fellow entrepreneurs. It doesn’t always have to be about yourself. I find this creates a network that will also share your successes. Genuine connection and caring about others goes a long way!
What is your best advice to other women who are in situations that require negotiation, whether for a pay raise or on behalf of a company?
Just ask! Learn to talk about money and take a course in negotiation (if you can).
What is the best way that women can support each other in the workplace?
Find mentors, have mentees, and support both formal and informal women in tech events.