The open secret in Silicon Valley is that, despite nominal gains, gender and minority representation remains problematic. USA Today, goes inside The Girl’s Lounge at SXSW 2016 for a look at women in tech. “Elephant in the Valley,” a survey that painted a dreary portrait for many women in Silicon Valley, underscored that reality when it was released earlier this year.
At a panel at the SXSW tech fest Sunday, survey co-authors Michele Madansky and Trae Vassallo moderated a discussion that voiced frustration over the hurdles facing women and women & men of color in tech.
The survey found 60% of respondents said they had unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, 60% believed they did not have the same opportunities as men, and 66% believed they were excluded from key networking experiences because of their gender.
The researchers surveyed about 200 women with at least 10 years’ tech experience, largely in the San Francisco Bay area. Many of the female respondents said they suffered from a “Goldilocks syndrome” – 40% were told they were too aggressive, yet 50% were told they were too quiet.
The discussion Sunday also traced the contributions of women, such as pioneers Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace, to technology throughout history. “We kind of run our history through a rinse cycle and wash the women out of them,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, a former Google executive, and one of the panelists.
Among the many problems leading to low representation of women in tech: The “pipeline” of girls and women studying STEM and entering tech and attrition. It’s “death by a thousand cuts,” Smith said. “We’ve moved away from the majority of overt bias, but we have made no progress in the past 30 years on implicit bias and institutional bias,” she said.
Smith cited the speed at which warships were built during World War II as an example of how fast American innovation can progress. If everyone could take a single action toward being more inclusive, “we could move incredibly quickly as the tech industry because that’s how we roll,” she said.
Laura Weidman Powers, founder and CEO of non-profit CODE2040, and others stressed that diversity must be addressed head-on and made a priority. “Conversations about gender and about race are uncomfortable, and that’s OK,” Powers said.
Powers’ organization is named after the year when people of color are expected to be the majority of Americans, and she said: “I would hope that in the year 2040 a panel like this doesn’t need to exist” because we’ve achieved equity.
Google is funding the expansion of a program from CODE2040 to create more opportunities for African-American and Latino entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley. Minority entrepreneurs in seven cities from Austin to Nashville will receive a $40,000 yearly stipend, starting this year, and free office space to build their start-ups.
Read Article (Swartz and Nahorniak | usatoday.com | 03/14/2016)
Our Technological Landscape now reflects the Diversity of our Global Population, as should the Industries that provide these Technologies.
Somebody please get “Social City Net” and our website on that expansion program list for minority entrepreneurs. Sacramento is between Austin and Nashville, isn’t it? Come on, at least give us a ‘Shout-Out”. Seriously
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