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September 01, 2010

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Leslie Poston

I love this level headed, fact charged counter argument, even though I tend to agree with this point above all others in this endless debate (A debate that I feel contributes to the problem just by continuing, flatly. It's time to move forward with actions and stop navelgazing at the problem.):

"Now to be totally fair and balanced here, this is NOT to say that I don't blame women for some of this discrepancy because I absolutely do. We stand in our own way of our own successes. I watch it happen time and time again, and I do it all the time myself. That's a separate issue that needs to be addressed, and I have some ideas about that."

I've got programs at local level encouraging girls to stay in school via mentoring and encouraging women to stop with "separate but equal" mentality and take the equality means no special treatment and also means being willing to self promote and co-promote and generally champion ourselves and others, and if there are more ways to help without segregating into all women conferences, etc, I'm all ears and would love to help.

John

While i agree with what you said here in this article, for the most part. Your style is confrontational. Men are more likely to be receptive if you don't attempt to make every issue, even one that affects men into a womans only thing. Like the ageism. Are you serious? If the gender disparity of men and women now is bad, back in the day it was atrocious. Really aren't too many women around in the tech business to suffer from this ageism, so if its "rampant" then it must, by nature of the industry, affect men a great deal. Also the whole scratching your balls is no different then when male authors put little jabs in like "crying your eyes out", or "on your period" its just not necessary. -_-.

Aliza Sherman

Leslie - check out my new project Chain of Daisies. Would love your input.

John - I did say in the beginning of my post that I'm an "agitator." But your point is well taken. I waited a while before posting because I was so angry, but my snarky style still does dominate, doesn't it? And what, you didn't like my "balls" comment? I loved that one.

SugarJones

Did you ever know that you're my hero?

PS: I loved the "balls" comment. Laughed out loud, actually.

Aliza Sherman

Thanks Sugar! That really did crack me up, too.

Aliza Sherman

From another great commentary:

Fretting, asking, and begging isn’t a plan: a response to TechCrunch on women in technology by Jon Pincus

http://www.talesfromthe.net/jon/?p=1552

Tim

So you made some interesting points about men being on the extremes (major failures, major success), and women being more conservative (moderate successes, moderate failures). Could this be why they might not get as much VC funding. Could VC's be going for home runs (big risks), and not looking for conservative leadership (small stable gains, over much longer periods of time)? This is interesting, and I think worth addressing.

Aliza Sherman

Tim - I do believe it is part of the issue in some cases. I've also heard from VC's - male and female - that women don't know how to sell themselves, come ill prepared in terms of the numbers side of their business when pitching, and other things that tell me we are not getting the kind of education and support we need to hit the high notes AND we still suffer from lack of self esteem in many cases that doesn't serve us well. I think all of these dynamics are worth addressing. That's part of what I hope to address in my Chain of Daisies project.

Tim

Also had some more questions.
Its it that you are insinuating that Arrington is lying when he says he puts in dedicated efforts to find women, or he is just being disingenuous. Also, I would like to point out that CEO at TechCrunch is a women, and I would like to think she wouldn't idly sit by and let that sort of marginalization occur. Or do you think this is case. I think to do an honest critique you need to address the fact that the boss is a woman.

Also, I think even you will have to admit that there is dearth of females in tech entrepreneurship. It follows from the fact that there is a dearth of women in tech. My school, at the heart of the valley, granted 89ish Male BSCS and 7 female BSCS, 29ish Male BSEE and 7 female BSEE. It follows the constituency of graduates that go the startup route will be overwhelmingly male, since its been that way from the beginning. Thats the issue to address, because this is where the problem stems from.

I don't like Arrington at all. I loved it when Carol Bartz, Leo Laporte, gave it to him straight.

But still, you don't know him either. And your aweful quick to say he's not even trying.

Aliza Sherman

Tim - You are right that I do not know and am certainly not implying that he's lying. He is sadly misinformed about some of the issues. That's why I am asking questions. I'd love for the TechCrunch CEO to weigh in. Would be very interesting indeed.

www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkgtM14aJ_fgPT_e2eGUVbxxkae2ZaF2wc

This is a really frustrating read for a guy who thinks sexism sucks, who thinks feminism is great, and who likes to think he's a rational person but can't see a rational way through the problems you're describing.

"Your circles are far too small, your reach far too narrow. You are missing dozens if not hundreds of women who would qualify to speak at your events. You just don't know how to find them, how to approach them, and how to remove the barriers for their entry even once they receive an invitation from you. You have NO IDEA."

There is the beginning of where you start to build the case that men are incapable of understanding or doing anything about sexism in the technology field. And here is where you practically say it explicitly:

"You are right, Michael Arrington. You cannot speak intelligently on this matter."

How is this NOT saying "screw you?" I read the original article. It sounded to me like he was expressing frustration with the process of trying to work towards a more universally inclusive gender environment in the tech world, and was inviting help. You and other repliers to this article seem to start by belittling any attempts at inclusivity he's made and then finally offer some half-hearted "suggestions" that either a) aren't really suggestions or b) aren't things people on the ground can do anything about. If Michael Arrington does the following:

1) mentors a woman fresh out of college and interested in the startup scene in SF,
2) treats women at events as being intellectually interesting just like he would any guy (he doesn't sound like the type not to, honestly) and
3) refrains from hitting on women at events,

(taken from the "18 reasons your company might be a sausagefest" link)

that does exactly jack and squat about the dearth of women in the field. The problem is structural and happens much before the "I'm looking for seed money for my startup" stage. It is educational and social and starts when girls are in their single-digit years.

Yes, Arrington was defensive. I might be too in his position. There is little someone at the top of a tech firm can do beyond what he very likely already does to help balance the gender gap.

Or is there? I would love to read more concrete suggestions beyond "you just can't possibly understand."

ChandraNalaani

"to a lesser extent - but no less important - keeps minorities back as well."

'To a lesser extent'? How do you figure that?

Checklist: http://bit.ly/9pmJGA

When you own your own blind spots, people may be more open to hearing about theirs.

Good to see the strength though.

Deliber

"Ageism is rampant in Silicon Valley. If you were born before 1970, chances are you are considered "old" unless you are male and can then be considered a "gray hair" which is actually a great position to be in because regardless of your credentials, your gray hair demonstrates wisdom and seasoning. For women, gray hair signifies old, haggard, sloppy, too lazy to dye your hair, too feminazi to care about hair dye, you name it - I've heard it all. Show me a handful of older women (over 40) with up-and-coming or significant tech startups AND a head full of gray hair."

I am one of the "old women" (over 40) you speak of. Beginning in 1995, I got a lot of hands-on experience working for a start-up (one that didn't make huge profits), and went on to start a Web design business of my own. Even though I became a proficient Web developer, the men I worked for/with always treated me as if I were a graphic designer with no programming knowledge (including HTML, which while not a programming language, they perceived as "above me"). They always disparaged my ideas and work, made rude comments about my looks, and made sexist jokes in front of me.

Recently, while struggling with a flare-up of a rare illness I suffer from, a young male IT person decided to use my temporary difficulty concentrating and expressing myself to harm my reputation. His reason for doing this was that he, in his infinite male greatness, decided that I was "stupid and incompetent." Rather than allowing potential clients to decide for themselves whether to hire me, he posted information everywhere he could think of "warning" people not to hire me. And, despite knowing that I was a single woman, he posted my home address on the Internet along with disparaging remarks about me, thus jeopardizing my safety.

Of course, many people still value my work and my abilities. However, as I get older, the problems with disrespect from men get worse. Now that I have recovered from my recent illness, I am looking for a different line of work - one where I have as little contact with men as possible.

The bottom line is that educating men will not work. Even if men give lip service to women's equality, a high percentage of them still see women as inferior to men in all ways other than in child bearing. This sexist mindset permeates every facet of society. Changing it will not be a simple task. But, until the stereotypes of men and women are eradicated, and gender perceptions are changed from a conceptual standpoint, women will not break the barriers to success that still stand in their way.

A Proud Hustler

The bottom line is that it's a hard fucking world out there and you gotta have fucking guts and a steamroller of a personality to make shit happen, woman or man.

Whining about "No one is showing up on my doorstep and handing me venture capital/speaking engagements/party invites/developers/cosmos" will achieve exactly what it has achieved in your lifetime: Absolutely Nothing.

And the reality is that some of us dudes out here are busting our ass, living on nothing, bearing rejection after rejection, etc. and STILL building awesome shit because FUCK THE NAYSAYERS. That's life in this business, regardless of you're a man or a woman. Unless you have a trust fund, things must be earned...the hard way. And that means you gonna get punched in the face a few times.

Whining posts like this one and Tereza's XX combinator bit only make the real hackers and the real hustlers among us respect you and people like you less. While you whine, we hack and we hustle and we earn our place in this competitive, pretentious, nasty world.


Stacey Mulcahy

You might want to revisit this statement

"I cannot believe we are STILL having the EXACT SAME CONVERSATIONS today as we were in 1995 when women made up 10% of the female population, and I was only one of a handful of women helming a tech startup."

Women - 10% of the female pop? Confusing.

www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621599484

Thanks for linking to my blog post. http://goo.gl/fb/YRu8r I have You might also be interested in http://goo.gl/fb/cCB0E and http://goo.gl/fb/RNovy and http://goo.gl/fb/49GZ8 and http://goo.gl/fb/Grwz3

I am about to write yet another post on the topic. I am loving it that this debate has taken off so.

John

Also important to note the following.

http://www.businessinsider.com/vc-funding-demographics-20-2010-7-charts

It looks like 45-54 year olds get funded better than 26-34 year olds and 35-44 year olds in Mass. and NY, and better than 35-44 year olds in California.

The graph looks to have come from here
http://www.cbinsights.com/blog/venture-capital/venture-capital-human-capital-report-gender-and-education

Its comprehensive study on demographics in VC world, how much funding goes to who, composition of teams, etc.(btw only 1% of VC money on annual goes to Black founders where as 8% goes to women so you might want to check that "lesser extent" minorities bit, there are def fewer black men in tech than white women.)

So I guess there is truth to Arrington statement if you have a good ideas get money regardless of age. (He didn't necessarily say Bob the senior engineer would value your opinion and treat you the same as everybody else) but hes right. VC fund people regardless of age. And if you execute, you will make money.

Mary Branscombe

I love the way that John calls you out for being 'confrontational', compared to Arrington, whose entire persona is based on being abrasive. Have you ever noticed how what's bold and forthright in a man is pushy and bitchy in a woman? Is that we women haven't learned to own our strength or is it that society has a gender bias for how women should and shouldn't act?

And I can't believe that I still get commissioned to write 'where are all the women' pieces 20 years after I started in tech journalism...

Useful resource: the Ada Lovelace Day network.
Tech company that has a larger than you'd think number of women in significant positions: Microsoft.

John

Mary. get over it. the author already owned up to being confrontational. Arrington is always an ass in his articles. and the author was being confrontational. Dont try to make this again into some rediculous womens only issue. 99.9 percent tech journalist call out arrington for being an asshole. And when I say the author, Aliza, was being confrontational this all of a sudden become some philosophical issue about womens strength? gimme a break. you must be entirely ignorant of the tech world. Michael Arrington is public enemy no. 1 (among men and women) for being an asshole. -_-.

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