Let me state the obvious first. I am a huge admirer of what Paul Graham has built in Y Combinator. And I have drawn enormous inspiration from many of his essays on tech startups. And it was an honor to once get featured in the same BBC article as Paul Graham and Brad Feld. (Paul Graham, Brad Feld, Me, BBC)
And now let me get to the topic at hand. Yes, Paul Graham was misquoted. But that does not change the fact that Paul Graham is guilty of sexism just like I am. I would not accuse him of extreme sexism. I might save that for a ton of men in India. But guilty he is. Why do I say that?
You were there when girls around you were 13. If you did not see sexism then, then you were willfully blind. You very well participated in it. Sexism starts early. Young girls feeding on sexist media do weird things with what they eat. That is sexism.
I don't think there is something fundamental about men and women that makes men head for STEM. Once girls get hit by the pot of sexism early on, they kind of lose their balance, and they end up making weird choices like not going towards STEM with greater gusto than they do.
Paul Graham wondering as to why 13 year old girls don't code more is not exactly like Newton wondering why the apple fell on his head. But sexism IS social gravity. It is all pervasive and all powerful, and all men participate in it, it is only a matter of degree, some more, some less, but we all do.
Sexism is really cutting edge, as is racism. It is as if not more cutting edge than the Internet itself, only the Internet is technology and communications and commerce, sexism and racism are social. It is like I am at this Internet Society event, Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee on stage. And I was and am a huge admirer of the guys. I literally think of the Internet as a new country, a feeling further enforced by a recent Indian Supreme Court decision that is blatantly homophobic. (Homophobia is sick, okay?) And I ask my question of Tim. If the Internet is a country which of you is George Washington, which is Thomas Jefferson? Tim gets offended and says "different race" in an unpleasant way. And I am like, I don't believe this motherfucker. And I made a "mad scientist" remark. (Tim Berners-Lee: The Internet Is Not A Country)
Paul Graham said recently something about "heavy accents," and there he was not misquoted, and I thought that was a racist thing to be saying.
Fred Wilson: Girls Who Code
Paul Graham: What I Did Not Say
Taylor Rose: Girls Haven’t Been Hacking for the Last 10 Years