There was an article in the New York Times last week, that I found to be appalling. The article was about sexual harassment, and gender bias in the tech industry. It spoke about how women are discriminated against because of their gender, but also sexually harassed by potential investors. The article notes that some women were seeking jobs, and were turned down because they rebuffed advancements. So as a way to “show them”, you don’t give them a job? How is that even remotely “ok” to anyone? I write a lot about diversity and inclusion, and this kind of discrimination is no different. You should be hiring the best candidate for the job. Regardless of [insert colour, gender, ethnicity, or ability here]. Period.
There have been many studies over the years showing how there is a gender bias in certain industries. There aren’t a lot of women going into male dominated industries, and can you see why? Is it worth it? In the situation mentioned above, it actually got worse for some of these women. They found that the firms that the men were represented by, were actually defending their actions. Almost like an old boys club. Even threatening to ostracize these women if they didn’t back off. Again, how is any of this “ok”?
The article actually highlights the gender imbalance in the industry stating, “Most venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are men, with female entrepreneurs receiving $1.5 billion in funding last year versus $58.2 billion for men, according to the data firm PitchBook. Many of the investors hold outsize power, since entrepreneurs need their money to turn ideas and innovations into a business. And because the venture industry operates with few disclosure requirements, people have kept silent about investors who cross the lines with entrepreneurs.” Again… not “ok”.
I read another article about this whole idea of gender bias in the tech industry, which appalled me for a different reason. In that article, the author points out that while there is still a long way to go, that this is a start. I don’t agree with that because these women are risking everything to change a corrupt system. They are risking their jobs, their livelihoods and their professional credibility. Which is truly amazing and I commend these women for facing adversity and challenging the system. Why I don’t agree with that statement is that we haven’t gone anywhere. Yes, a system has been exposed, but that doesn’t mean that it will change.
Not to digress, but look at what’s happening within the American political system now. We know that certain systems have been corrupted, and yet, they’re still functioning as status quo. My concern is that we think that this is a start. My concern is that we see the exposure as the way forward. I think it’s a starting point, but don’t confuse that with a start. A starting point is where we need to move from. A start, in my opinion, implies that we have taken even one step. I might be splitting hairs, but I see the two differently. I think we are a long way off from things changing. Regardless of what these women had to say. Which, I think is sad, and disheartening.
Yes, there are companies in the tech industry that don’t play by these rules. There are some that value diversity in whatever form it comes from. Which gives me hope. But there are still so many that operate under these antiquated rules and traditions, that this will be a long road. What is a start is that some of the men who enabled the discrimination are coming forward and admitting that they were wrong. They are working to change the system, and that is what is going to push this movement farther. Overall, I still think it’s going to take a lot more work before we can officially say that this process has even started.