Month: February 2017

The last eight years or so of pro-working woman literature has hoped that data would do what appealing to an intrinsic American belief in fairness and equality could not.

And an amazing treasure trove of data has resulted.

“What Works for Women at Work” artfully debunks the “opt out” myth that women simply lose interest in work once they become mothers. It also showed how universal the bias women face on the job– across industries, race, and generations– can be.

“Getting to 50/50” unearthed a ton of data on why it’s in men’s interest that their wives work.

“Lean in” showed that women take themselves out of the running for raises and promotions before they’ve even become wives or mothers, or even found the person they want to settle down with.

Unconscious bias has been proved by endless studies where gender is obscured and men are regarded differently (and more positively) than women.

And copious more research by the major consulting firms, boutique firms, the Lean In Foundation, the Diana Project, Women.VC, the Kauffman Foundation and so many others have found– conclusively– that gender balanced teams perform better. That executives are only hurting themselves when they don’t diversify.

And yet, in tech at least– the recent “woke Crunchies” aside– there’s almost no progress when it comes to diversity in America.

And as I reported last week, three surveys have shown that most white men just don’t care. 95% didn’t list it as a top problem, the bulk still don’t believe unconscious bias is a major factor, 75% of these companies are doing absolutely nothing to address the gender and race divide, and 40% are sick of hearing about it.  

The near decade long experiment to incentivize white men to act differently by using data and rational self interest has failed. It’s in the… ahem, numbers.

And that shouldn’t be a shock, given the country we live in now, where there’s widespread mistrust of the press, the data is citing fake terrorist attacks in Sweden, and he enjoys unwavering support from people who like that he “talks like them,” according to cable news interviews.

People only want data if it confirms their beliefs, not if it challenges them.

When you try to present data that shows that indeed white men aren’t listening to the data, you get a lot of push back from people who simply don’t want it out there. People who say women and minorities should stop “bitching” about the world and just work harder. That — hey!— white men don’t get everything they want either. That it must just be false. FAKE NEWS! (I’ve been flooded with both of these points of view over the last week via Twitter.)

But there’s a reason why I still keep reporting on data like this, and why I also have a shit load of data in my upcoming book on motherhood. Because while data will not change anyone’s mind that inclusion is a priority or even a good thing, it’s still useful for galvanizing and rallying men and women who do want a more inclusive world, but don’t quite know how to get there or how to demand their leaders take them there. It gives them evidence, talking points, and confidence to keep pushing their companies to do better.

When a manager says, “we’ve tried to hire women, we just don’t get the applicants!” data helps you explain why it’s up to companies to do better. When a manager says, “but women we’ve hired in the past just leave to be with their families” data helps you make the case that this could be a problem with the company’s bro-y culture. It makes the case that early gender and race inclusion on teams will make a meaningful difference down the line. Data on retention of working moms out of Google and other places makes the case that it’s in employer’s best interest to offer parental leave (which is why many of the largest companies and startups are.)

Data and role models are the best weapons we have, outside of more women just quitting jobs and starting their own investment firms and companies to make these decisions directly. And that’s why the super-woke Crunchies award ceremony didn’t bother me, while some people I spoke with felt it bordered on pandering.

The Crunchies has always reflective of the aspirational soul of Silicon Valley. A few years ago, in the peak of Disruption mania, that reflection was so bro’d up that Katie Stanton wrote this. Now in an age where women and minorities are taking to the streets to force their government and their tech leaders to do better, we get woke Crunchies. I’m fine with that shift, even if it doesn’t necessarily correspond to a shift in diversity among senior management. Let’s project it, til we make it. We’ve seen in the last two months the power of tech employees to push major change from below.
Knowing that it is in a manager’s self interest matters to employees, whether a company itself is woke enough to act on that or not. If nothing else, data is a mirror to hold up to your manager’s face: If employees present him with data showing inclusion and better policies should be in his self-interest, does it change the behavior?

The Women’s March has announced March 8 will be the day without women. I freaked out when I first saw anything about this because I’d just been writing about the impact that the women’s strike had in Iceland in 1975.

This is from my chapter on Iceland, where the importance of this march was explained to me by the phenomenal Halla Tomasdottir, who ran for President in Iceland last summer (and almost won despite a prediction that she’d get 1% of the vote!):

“I thought it was a question of time because when I was seven, women took the day off in Iceland and they brought the country to its knees, so from 1975 people started saying, ‘OK, life doesn’t work in Iceland if women don’t show up to work.’”

Wait, backup.  

That’s right: The year I was born, 90% of women across Iceland walked off the job and took to the streets. Something I couldn’t imagine even half of American women doing today, and bear in mind this was before social media made this kind of mass organization easier.

They were upset with the country’s inequality and wanted to send a strong message: The world didn’t work, if women didn’t work. They walked out whether their “job” was driving a bus or working at a bank or even taking care of newborns at home. For that day, Halla says, kids didn’t get fed, busses weren’t driven, banks didn’t get opened, schools didn’t open.

“Nothing worked, because 90% of women in Iceland did this,” she says. It took a year to organize the walk out. Some women’s husbands left them because they’d helped organize it.

But do you know what happened five years later? Iceland elected the first female president in the world, and she was a single mom. Halla puts it down to that women’s strike.

“I’m raised with women who have the courage to do that and we do change the world, because five years later we have that first female president,” she says. “She was not only a single mom, she was a breast cancer survivor. She was asked during her campaign, ‘What are you going to do as president? You’re a woman.’ Someone added, ‘You’re even half a woman’, because she’d had a mastectomy. She answered, ‘Well I was intending on leading the nation, not breastfeeding it.’ She took the high road and she won.

“This impacted me profoundly, and not just me, but the men of this generation. They thought it’s normal that a woman is president.”

Wow.

 

I hate to post this on a day that should be about love. But guess what? A third study of Silicon Valley tech workers show that white men just DGAF about diversity. I wrote this on Pando today:

Last November, LinkedIn published a study that showed just how much white men care about diversity in tech. Spoiler: Very little when they are allowed to answer questions about diversity without using their name.

Less than 5% of white men surveyed said they considered a lack of diversity a top problem. Three-out-of-four respondents were unaware of any initiatives to make their companies or portfolios more diverse. And 40% of male respondents were sick of the media going on and on about it.

How about actually try to solve the problem, and we’ll all shut up OK?

Silicon Valley Bank released its annual US startup outlook today. And in terms of women on boards or women anywhere in the executive ranks, things are slightly worse year-over-year.

According to SVB, only a quarter of startups even say they have programs in place to change this. That’s the same as last year’s survey, and the same as the LinkedIn study above. This also echoes the results of First Round Capital’s state of startups last year, where founders ranked diversity low as a concern, and there was a sharp divide between men and women on the cause for tech’s lack of diversity.

Guess what? Men blame the pipeline (It’s not our fault so nothing needs to change!) Women blame a mix of unconscious bias (It is your fault; you just think it’s OK because it’s not intentional) and a lack of industry role models and mentors. The industry freaks out when Mike Moritz or John Greathouse say this kind of stuff about gender publicly. And that makes us all feel good and pretend we’re making progress. But privately, the vast majority of white men in tech believe it.

And yet, despite the fact that 95% of white male respondents didn’t consider this a problem, 40% were sick of hearing about it, and 75% weren’t aware of any programs to address it, investors in the LinkedIn survey guessed that within five years, one-third of their portfolios would be comprised of female founded companies and racially diverse teams. Founders in that survey similarly expected rapid progress: That somehow in five years half of their hires would be women and people of color.

First Round’s survey said the same: In 14 years, tech leadership would just miraculously reflect the gender and racial mix of America broadly.

We now have three surveys showing the same thing: White men in tech simply DGAF about increasing tech’s diversity. It’s the kind of thing everyone says is a problem on social media or on stage, but less than 5% of the industry actually believes it’s a problem. White men do not believe they bear any responsibility for the way things are, and only 25% of companies have any effort underway at all to make things better.

And so, none of us should be surprised that nothing is changing. Horrified, yes, but not surprised.

A little over a week ago, I filed my book about motherhood and entrepreneurship to Harper. And last Friday my editor wrote back to say she thought it was “strong.”
We are on our way! This book is incredibly personal and was an intense thing to write in the days when we don’t care about men who boast of sexual assault and think we become mere “hosts” when we get pregnant.
We’ve also reached my second Patreon goal. Woo hoo! I am now producing a monthly “daddy special” podcast to go with the badass moms editions. I think these could have a profound impact on lessening the stereotype that successful men in the Valley neglect their families.
 
Now that my book is in, I plan to post more here, and start a newsletter in my “spare time.” Stay tuned. And thanks everyone for your support. If you know a badass mom or an engaged dad, tell them about this site. Even $1/show helps support our mission!

I wrote this in my book I just filed:

“Let’s bring it back to motherhood: After all, bearing children is the central role women are expected to play in a patriarchy; the one thing that men cannot do. What is the Maternal Wall if not the enforcement of a patriarchal idea that to be a good mother you must be 100% devoted to your kids or to be a good employee you must be 100% devoted to your job?

If you are in a heterosexual marriage and have a male boss, two patriarchs are essentially coming into conflict when you try to have a career and a family. Which patriarch do you owe your allegiance to? The one who asks in the job interview if you are planning on having children or the one who says he just doesn’t “want strangers raising his kids”?

And this is why the right wing feels so much ownership over what goes on every American uterus. Because the battle for control over those uteruses are ground zero of whether we continue to live in a patriarchy or not. A woman’s clearest role in a patriarchal society is reproductive. Her ability to control that is a threat to that order, beyond the fact that it is necessary for her ability to work, to control her economic destiny, and in religious societies whether or not she’s even forced into marriage.

It’s all about the uterus.

Consider how abortion became the Southern evangelical wedge issue. It wasn’t a “grassroots” movement. Abortion was historically a Catholic issue, not an evangelical issue. Until Nixon. Nixon set out– consciously– to make it the issue to unify Southern evangelicals behind the republican party, according to Manne. “The cultural conflagration over abortion did not begin at the grassroots level; nor did it have an organic religious or moral basis,” she writes. “It was deliberately lit by political leaders, who intended that it be fueled by anxieties concerning women’s role within the family.”

As women have steadily gained more rights to their own uteruses, the patriarchy has gone into panic mode. It’s not so much women that need to be dominated, as much as it’s the uterus that has to be dominated.”

That sounded a little agro-feminist– even for me– until I saw this.

An Oklahoma Lawmaker:

“I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” he said. “I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

“they feel like that is their body.” = battle for the uterus is so extreme now that the talking point is when it is no longer part of our body…. just in shock.

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