Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe empowers women to challenge gender roles when it comes to dating … and running companies.
From how long to wait before texting a potential partner to what conversation topics are taboo for a first date, there seem to be more rules today for dating than there are single people on the hunt for that special someone.
One woman however, is using tech to turn an age-old dating tradition on its head.
“I was always very interested in being creative and trying to do interesting things,” said Whitney Wolfe the co-founder and former vice president of Tinder, the de facto king of dating apps.
“I couldn’t escape my frustration with the antiquated gender dating norms,” she said. “It was that exasperation that led me to the idea of inspiring women to make the first move and control the conversation.”
Like Tinder, Bumble users are shown potential dating matches with the option to “swipe right” on those that interest them. Unlike Tinder though, only women can start a conversation with their matches (either user in a same-sex connection can start a conversation).
If after 24 hours a user hasn’t yet chatted with one of the men in their “hive” (Bumble’s term for the user’s list of matches), the connection disappears forever. Men do have the ability to show special interest in a female match by extending their stay in one woman’s hive per day by 24 hours.
By putting women in the position to make the first move through Bumble, Wolfe aims to counter traditional heterosexual dating norms.
Glamour called Bumble “the feminist version of Tinder,” and Wolfe is happy to be empowering women as they navigate the online dating world.
“The naysayers were lining up to tell me why it wouldn’t work, but I knew we had something special,” said Wolfe, in an interview with Vogue UK. “Almost two years later, it’s clear our approach is resonating.”
Bumble isn’t just putting its female user base in control of their dating lives — the company itself is powered by an almost all-female staff, challenging traditional gender norms in the tech industry (last year, CNET reported that women held just 30 percent of the jobs in the tech industry). The company is also among the 18 percent of startups that have a female founder.
Women Owning the Dating Game
Other women are also getting into the dating app business. The Catch founder Shannon Ong wanted to her app to be about more than first impressions, more than just looks. She integrated a gaming element into The Catch that she describes as a cross between “The Dating Game” and “The Bachelorette.”
When using The Catch, a woman is presented with up to four potential male matches. She can then ask those men three questions. The answers are presented anonymously, so the woman doesn’t know which man provided which answer until she chooses a “winner.”
Antidate, founded by Hatty Kinsgley-Miller and Mo Saha, is not powered by matched swipes and instead focuses on location to create connections.
“We set about creating a dating app for people who don’t like dating apps,” said Saha. “Hatty and I are old enough to remember when spontaneity and excitement fuelled our nights out and young enough to know how mobile tech can facilitate that.”
Antidate users can find out in real time who the singles are in the bars, cafes, and other places they like to frequent. They can then choose to make a physical connection with those people right away. Women have the option to remain anonymous while using the app, giving them added control over who can see their profile information.
Like Wolfe, both Ong and Saha see the opportunity for women to continue to step into positions of power within the male-dominated tech industry.
“Sure, you will come into contact with doubters,” Saha said. “The trick is to treat all of the obstacles you encounter as opportunities to up your game and silence the doubters with straight up competence.”
Wolfe agrees that hard work is necessary to move up in the tech world, but like any great relationship, passion comes into play, too.
“No one that’s had success in tech has done it with only luck. They’ve done it through tireless, thankless hours of work,” she said. “And they do it because they love it.”