Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tech's Gender Gap Is Real, Pervasive, Worse Than Men Realize

For all the idealism behind the idea that technology knows no borders, that data and the market-place of ideas offer equal access to meritous ideas, free from gender bias or that women have achieved parity with men in the technology field, the actual lived experience of scores of women in the tech industry, from app development to tech investments is rife with stories that tell otherwise. Last week, Wired published an eye-opening and unflinching look at the gender gap between men and women in the tech industry entitled "This Is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like". An excerpt:
Shortly after Kathryn Tucker started RedRover, an app that showcases local events for kids, she pitched the idea to an angel investor at a New York tech event. But it didn’t go over well. When she finished her pitch, the investor said he didn’t invest in women. When she asked why, he told her. “I don’t like the way women think,” he said. “They haven’t mastered linear thinking.” To prove his point, he explained that his wife could never prioritize her to-do lists properly. And then, as if he was trying to compliment her, he told Tucker she was different. “You’re more male,” he said. Tucker didn’t need to hear any more. “I said, ‘Thanks very much,’ walked out, and never spoke to him again,” she recalled earlier this year, as part of a panel discussion on “fundraising while female” at the annual Internet Week conference in New York. 
It was one of many stories shared during a panel that painted the tech world as a place that—for all its efforts to push into the future with apps and gadgets and online services—is still very much stuck in the past when it comes to attitudes involving gender...  
But there’s another truth to remember: For every story you hear about investors behaving badly, there are far worse stories that many women wouldn’t dare to tell. “The most common thing I hear from other women is: ‘Oh the stories I’ll tell once I’m far enough along that I don’t have to worry about being shamed,’” says Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of the job search and career advice site The Muse. For women who have experienced this bias—and there are many—the simple act of talking about it is taboo... And yet, it’s only through these stories that we can begin to understand that the statistics aren’t the result of some fluke or mass oversight, but a very real problem that needs to be solved.
The entire article is worth a thorough read, and hopefully serves as a decent wake-up call. A word of advice, though: Don't read the comments on the article. They're particularly loathsome.

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