EppsNet Archive: Startups

Tech Gender Bias: Men Not as Concerned

24 Oct 2017 /

According to LinkedIn:

Despite a string of revelations that women in tech face considerable headwinds — from persistent gender-based pay gaps (per Bloomberg), to limited VC funding for female-led startups (per Fortune), to sexual harassment (per The New York Times) — just 29% of men say that discrimination is a major problem in the industry, according to data from Pew. In fact, some 32% of men claim that it’s not a problem at all.

Everything I read about gender discrimination in tech starts out by assuming it’s a real problem and that all reasonable people agree that it’s a real problem.

Even the supposedly objective LinkedIn blurb above tells us that 29% of men “say” that discrimination is a major problem, while 32% of men “claim” that it’s not a problem at all, “despite a string of revelations blah blah blah . . .”

I’ve worked in tech for 30 years . . . I say it’s not a problem but I’m open to an evidence-based argument that I’m wrong. (NB: “If you can’t see it, then you’re part of the problem” is not an evidence-based argument.)

 

Some possible evidence for gender discrimination:

Gender

Just look at the numbers. It’s a male-dominated industry.

Agreed, but that’s not prima facie evidence of discrimination.

I worked with a nursing organization for five years. Nursing, you may have noticed, is a female-dominated profession. During that time, I never heard one person mention gender bias in nursing. Never. In five years.

Most schoolteachers are women, most therapists are women, most social workers, most MFC counselors . . . I could go on with this but I think we both get the point: Have you ever heard anything about gender bias in any female-dominated profession? I haven’t.

Gender imbalance is not evidence of discrimination. Men and women are different and they choose to do different things. More women choose to be nurses and social workers and more men choose to be programmers.

Limited VC funding for female-led startups

VCs would love to fund more female-led startups, but again, men and women choose to do different things and more men choose to do startups.

Note that there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of women starting small businesses, but more men choose to pitch VC-funded startups.

Gender-based pay gaps

Gender-based pay gaps are not specific to the tech industry.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is not specific to the tech industry.

Online harassment

If you think online harassment is limited to women, you haven’t spent much time online. Standards of discourse are nonexistent. Civility is almost non-existent.

Jump on Twitter for a few minutes and see how people talk to each other.

I’ve been interacting with people on the web for a couple of decades . . . some of the things people have said to me . . . it’s beyond upsetting . . . you can feel the blood draining out of your face as you’re reading it. It’s not limited to women.

Women are passed over for raises, promotions, plum projects, etc.

Yes . . . so are men. What’s your hypothesis? Men are passed over because they’re undeserving, while women are passed over just because they’re women?

 

TL;DR -> Women are capable of making decisions for themselves. For the most part, they choose to do things other than work in tech and do startups. So what?

Thus spoke The Programmer


Tech Gender Bias: Men Not as Concerned

22 Oct 2017 /

According to LinkedIn:

Despite a string of revelations that women in tech face considerable headwinds — from persistent gender-based pay gaps (per Bloomberg), to limited VC funding for female-led startups (per Fortune), to sexual harassment (per The New York Times) — just 29% of men say that discrimination is a major problem in the industry, according to data from Pew. In fact, some 32% of men claim that it’s not a problem at all.

Here’s why I claim that it’s not a problem: Women are capable of making decisions for themselves. For the most part, they choose to do things other than work in tech and do startups. So what? (Pay gaps and harassment are not tech-specific, obviously.)

Thus spoke The Programmer.


10 Reasons Why Failure is Good, Except When It’s Bad

11 Jul 2017 /
 Sharon Christa McAuliffe,  Gregory Jarvis, Judith A. Resnik, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Ronald E. McNair, Mike J. Smith, Ellison S. Onizuka. Image credit: NASA

Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith A. Resnik, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Ronald E. McNair, Mike J. Smith, Ellison S. Onizuka. Image credit: NASA

Once upon a time there was a startup, and the president of this startup, like a lot of people in the early part of the 21st century, celebrated failure — as a learning tool and as a precursor to success.

He encouraged employees to celebrate failures on the company Slack channel, using the hashtag #fail.

Legend has it that the president called one employee on the carpet for suggesting on the Slack channel that it doesn’t make sense to celebrate failure without factoring in the cost of failure.

That is simply a truism, is it not? Obviously the value of failure can be swamped out by the cost, e.g.,

Blew up 7 astronauts but learned that O-rings don’t function in sub-freezing temperatures. #fail

You can think of other examples yourself. You can probably also think of people and/or companies for whom failure was merely a precursor to more failure.

Working for startups is risky, but the president of this startup told all the employees that he would give them a six-month heads-up if the company were ever on track to run out of money.

Then one day, due to the failure to retain a key client, the staff was cut to around 15 people (there were close to 100 at one time) with zero notice and a one week’s severance check.

You could make a case that the “six-month” promise didn’t apply because the company didn’t actually “run out of money,” but most people felt that the spirit of the promise, if not the letter, had been violated.

Was this a failure to be celebrated? It probably depends from which side of the exit door you’re looking at it. Sometimes a pivot looks a lot like an implosion.

Was it celebrated with a #fail hashtag in the company Slack channel? I don’t know.

Lost our key client. Laid off all developers but kept the company chef. #fail

This is a fable and like all fables it has a moral: Failure is good, except when it’s bad.

Resemblance to persons or companies living or dead would be a coincidence.

Thus spoke The Programmer.


Praying for Startups

31 May 2016 /

A new Meetup group called Praying for Startups sent me the following email:

Are you involved in a startup? Are you a Christian?

Meet fellow Christians from all walks of the entrepreneurial eco-sphere, as we share and pray for our teams and the startup community, both locally and abroad.

I’d be interested to see some numbers on the correlation between prayer and startup success. I suspect there isn’t any. Also the relative efficacy of prayers to a Christian God vs. Allah, Buddha, Satan, Zeus and all other supernatural beings.


Occam Has Mislaid His Razor

18 Apr 2013 /
William of Occam

William of Occam

Silicon Valley Discriminates Against Women, Even If They’re BetterPBS NewsHour

An academic says that Silicon Valley is “not a meritocracy.”

He doesn’t offer any evidence to support that. He just looked around and noticed more men than women in the high-tech workforce.

The fact that there are more members of Group A doing X than there are members of Group B doing X is not evidence that members of Group B are being discriminated against in their efforts to do X.

In particular, he says that only 3 percent of tech firms in the Valley were founded by women, as though founding a tech firm is a fun thing that everyone should want to do.

Founding a startup is an ultra-high-risk activity that requires insane amounts of time and sacrifice. Do you want to have friends? A social life? Do you have a family? Do you want to have a family? Do you want to see them sometimes?

The fact that more men than women are founding startups is not evidence that women are being discriminated against. The simplest explanation is that women just don’t want to do it as much as men do.


ideasspotter: 75 Startup Tools and Apps

Posted by on 23 Jul 2012