The cat’s out of the bag and is not going back in. While we were soaking up the last days of summer, what had been a smoldering fire in Silicon Valley that started with Susan Fowler’s missive about Uber suddenly hit 5-alarm status when a Google engineer published his 10-page memo citing “biological differences” as the main reason behind the gender gap in Silicon Valley.
Adding more fuel to this fire and the allegations that sexism and discrimination are deeply entrenched in this “bro culture,” were eye-popping headlines that women have been silenced with non-disparage agreements and two female entrepreneurs actually invented a male co-founder because they knew “Keith” would be taken more seriously. My jaw is still dropping.
How Does This Affect Me?
Now you may be wondering how this firestorm actually affects you. At a high level, consider these statistics: 92% of developers and 94% of Silicon Valley investors are men, and only 2.19% of venture funding goes to women entrepreneurs.
This under-representation results in three major problems:
1) Women often lead female-focused businesses, so our interests are not getting funded.
2) No one is zeroed in on the major challenges facing women and looking at technology for solutions (I believe we’re in major need of an upgrade).
3) The technology that does get developed is not designed from a female perspective, so it’s no wonder user-interfaces can be totally confounding.
At the everyday level, there is a cultural attitude that permeates down and can undermine our collective self-confidence. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard very bright women say sheepishly or with less-than-subtle traces of fear, “I’m not very tech savvy.” This self-assessment is further reinforced when the IT repair guy turns up at your house and asks “When’s your husband getting home?” or “These things tend to come more naturally when you have both an “X” and “Y” chromosome (my real-life experiences!).
We Can Be Fearless
Unfortunately, these inherent biases start shaping our girls at a very young age—by age six, girls already think boys are smarter, and by the time they graduate college, only 6.7% of women earn STEM degrees. This is particularly concerning when we think about our daughters entering the workforce given the average salary for STEM jobs is nearly double that of all other jobs and STEM job growth will outpace all other sectors.
So how can we confront these issues? I think we can start by embracing what Carol Dweck call’s a growth mindset and becoming mindful about how we’re using technology whether it’s to solve a particular problem or support a preferred lifestyle. And, we can role model this “Fearless” attitude for both our daughters and sons.
An Open Invitation
I started Heard It From a Friend with the goals to make technology feel more accessible for women and less intimidating, while also finding good solutions to make running the “Family Business” more efficient. We’ve started by zeroing in on one of the most vexing issues facing parents: Setting Up Parental Controls. We invite you to join one of our next Get a Grip Sessions:
October 24th: 6:30-8:30pm
November 7th: 6:30-8:30pm
For more information and to register, click here.
Be In The Know
The Heard It From A Friend “HIFAF”:
Socializing technology is the key to making it stick and making it a more fun part of our everyday conversation. Nikki, our chief technologist, and I sat down recently, and here are 5 tech tips—a few with practical implications and a couple to boost your cocktail conversations:
1) Wait to install iOS 11 until Apple releases version 11.1 or 11.2. Initially, there are always bugs, and you don’t want to be bitten!
4) Without realizing it because I’m sure it never crossed their minds, Apple just made it harder for kids to grab their parent’s phones without permission thanks to FaceID. Lucky if you’re among the next generation of new parents and get to skip this irksomeness. Nice that Apple is growing its conscience and finally releasing a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature.
5) Amazon appears to know what it’s like to be a mom with young children and you can’t even leave the house, although the wine store is only a half block away…wine to your doorstep within an hour.
Now we hope you’re giving yourself a Heard It From A Friend high-five (“HIFAF”)!