Women In Tech Panel Devolves Into Anger, Ambivalence


Reports are trickling out that a TechCrunch panel on women in tech degenerated into a “catfight” and onstage “bitching.” So what actually happened?

The video isn’t up yet, but according to TechCrunch’s own Alexia Tsotsis,

Let me save you a recap of a lot of the bitching. Basically there’s one female contingent that thinks the lack of female startup founders is due to lack of awareness of the lack female startup founders and there’s another female contingent that thinks that the lack of female startup founders is due to the fact that women do not start up startups. Whew!… Basically reasons for why there isn’t more women in our industry are well known and much discussed, primarily the lack of role models for women who are interested in tech.

If you’re wondering why Tsotsis sounds a little defensive, it’s probably because her boss, Michael Arrington, felt personally singled out when a quote in a women in tech story used his conference as an example, and fired off an angry post saying that women had to stop blaming him. Said caller-outer, Rachel Sklar, was on the panel today. (Apparently her age became an issue.)

Sound incestuous? It is. But there’s a larger significance: the difficulty of honestly talking about these issues of representation and mobility without pissing off your current boss, your co-workers, your funders — or sounding ungrateful. Not to mention the fact that the women onstage are constantly asked to speak for all women, whether they see themselves that way or not.

Judging from their tweets, many in the audience were also ambivalent. They may have agreed that the panel was a bad idea, but not for the same reasons.

In any case, as another tech blogger pointed out, the tech sector has quite a ways to go:

Putting this in context: Less than 20% of the speakers at Disrupt [the conference] are women, rapper/CEO Chamillionaire is the only black, and there aren’t any Latin@s. Just 8% of startup founders are women,* only 1% are African-American. Blacks, Latinos and women have all lost ground at Silicon Valley tech companies, and Intel’s age discrimination is front-page news.

There’s always next year.

Why No Women Want To Be On A “Women In Tech” Panel [TechCrunch]
Changing The Ratio: Part 2 Of “TechCrunch, Disrupted” [Tales From The Net]
Earlier: What Do “Where Are The Women?” Shitstorms Achieve?

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