Friday, July 16, 2010

Tech, Women, Diversity

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...Image via Wikipedia
Often when Fred Wilson puts out a blog post where he links to about four different blog posts, I know it is one of those posts that is asking for a reply blog post, sometimes to echo the sentiment, sometimes to express a disagreement, often just to give further momentum to a great topic. Today is the turn of women in technology.

This whole debate reminds me of the creationism debate. My take has been religion and science deal with two different levels of reality. Religion is a belief system. Those beliefs do not have to follow the laws of physics, and many of them don't. Jesus walking on water makes sense in religion, does not make sense in science. I am not going to think you are a prude for believing that.

Religion has to be looked at in the religious realm. Science inhabits the scientific realm. And there are intersection points, like when Galileo was harassed. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, many people in Nepal did not believe. The moon is a god. The guy probably climbed some hill, and thinks he is on the moon, that was the sentiment.

Gender is as big a topic in sociology as gravity is in physics. It is big. It is all pervasive. Just because we don't think about it much does not mean gravity is not active every waking hour, and while we are down.

There are many - they tend to be white men for some reason - who argue technology is neutral to your background. You can be any gender, any cultural background, it does not matter. They are lying. Or they are ignorant. Some of them are evil. They are invested in persisting the status quo.

Even where meritocracy can be shown to exist, those with the merits and the skills and the intellect stand on centuries of favoring one kind of people over another kind of people. And that is when there are not outright sexist informal and formal structures in place.

Gender and technology: there are many intersection points.

Equality is something that has to be proactively sought. I don't think sexism is in the interests of men. A healthy male female ratio in the workplace and at the various leadership levels has to be attempted. This is not a male versus female issue. There are those - men and women - who are on the right side of history, and there are those who are on the wrong side. We should get more people to come over on to the right side. We have to constantly be evangelizing.

Fred Wilson: XX Combinator
Tereza Nemessanyi: XX Combinator
Brad Feld: The Discussion About The Lack Of Women In Tech
Eric Ries: Why Diversity Matters (The Meritocracy Business)

When you visit Fred's blog post, make sure you don't miss out on the action in the comments section.
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