SILICON VALLEY’S MORALITY CRASH Sarah Lacy, Pando.com/ChairmanMom.com
WHERE WE ARE…
Yes, the Valley is sexist.
• Only 3% of venture backed companies have female CEOs. (Black male founders got 2% and black women did not register in the data.) • 98% of VCs on senior investing teams are white or Asian males. • Across the largest tech companies, women make up one-third of the workforce. But in the highest-earning, highest-profile engineering ranks that falls to just 10% • Pay gap for women in tech is as high as 28% at the engineer level (Uber actually wrote an internal program to exploit this and pay women as little as possible!) • This is getting worse not better.
No, it’s not a pipeline problem.
• In 1981 women outpaced men earning the most college degrees • By 2026, it’s expected to be at a ratio of 3:2 • At Stanford and UC Berkeley 50% of the introductory computer science students are women. • According to USA Today, top universities graduate black and Hispanic computer science and engineering students at twice the rate tech companies actually hire them. • Out of 5,300 women with engineering degrees surveyed by the National Science Foundation, nearly 40% were not working as engineers. • For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted • Only 20% of women at the VP level are in line to become CEOs
Data:White men in tech largely DGAF L
• Less than 5% of white men surveyed said a lack of diversity was a “top problem” in tech. • Only 25% were aware of any formal efforts to make their companies more inclusive • 40% were sick of hearing about it • 80% of female VCs said they’d witnessed sexism in tech; only 28% of men did. • Nearly 50% of non-white founders had witnessed racism; only 10% of white founders had. • THIS IS HAPPENING WHETHER YOU HAVE SEEN IT OR NOT. • 45% of investors still blame the pipeline. (Sigh)
Bro culture is a form of toxic masculinity
• “The hard-driving bro culture [confuses] the pursuit of money with the pursuit of masculinity.” -- Joan Williams • Men are victims in bro-land too: “Real man syndrome” and “precarious manhood” requires masculinity has to be earned over and over again. • How? Bigger valuations, more laws broken, more risk taken. • It isn’t a surprise that much toxic masculinity has lead to over-the-top sexual harassment. It’s another thrilling risk.
In the Valley, toxic masculinity > data
• First Round found companies with female founders performed 63% better than all-male teams; Kauffman Foundation found female tech entrepreneurs generated 35% higher returns; and Women.VC found that female VCs also posted higher returns on average. • Gender diverse teams perform far better • 50 hours a week is the most you can work without increased risk of cardiovascular issues, relationship problems, weigh gain, depression, injury and plenty of other issues • Productivity also declines after 50 a week. • The Monthly Labor Review found that people who believe they work 75+ hrs a week were off by as much as 25 hours
In 2017, the toxic masculinity bubble has finally popped.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Rape culture at Silicon Valley’s feeder schools
• 43% of female undergrad students at Stanford experience sexual assault or sexual misconduct. • By attending one fraternity party a month, a woman’s odds of sexual assault go up by more than 30%. They have to go to the location of greatest danger. • And yet, sororities at Stanford can only have parties with alcohol if they do them at Fraternity houses. • “If I told you your child has a 43 percent chance of experiencing a gunshot wound at Stanford, you wouldn’t send them there. But for some reason, with sexual assault, it’s just seen as the cost of doing business” -- Michele Dauber, Stanford Law
Stanford GSB’s “positive sexuality”
Faulty pattern recognition
• “If you look at [Amazon founder Jeff] Bezos, or [Netscape founder Marc] Andreessen, [Yahoo cofounder] David Filo, the founders of Google, they all seem to be white, male, nerds who’ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford and they absolutely have no social life. That correlates more with any other success factor that I’ve seen in the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.” -John Doerr in 2008 encouraging bias to get good returns (and forgetting Asian Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang ) • …. BUT STEVE JOBS!
Cult of the founder
• The legend of Sean Parker and the social game of venture capital • Founder control has led to a culture of no board oversight • VCs believed they were investing in Travis Kalanick, not Uber. It was only after years of scandal, rampant sexism, potentially criminal actions to silence critics, allegedly stealing trade secrets, a DOJ investigation that the two became divisible. (And several board members and 1,000 Uber employees want him back)
• When you are funded to break laws, how do you decide which laws are the ones that are OK to break? • Uber was celebrated for breaking laws when it came to taxis. Why are we surprised the same culture is breaking other laws like sexual harassment and stealing trade secrets? • Toxic masculinity breeds in cultures that fetishize disruption– it’s all about taking the bigger risk, breaking the most laws • A generation of entrepreneurs were told to asking “forgiveness not permission.” And we’re shocked they’re grabbing women?
No economic crash
• VCs kept assuming there would be an economic crash and that would drive a lot of these excesses out of the system, just like post-2000. • But it never came: Low interest rates and a glut of foreign capital have kept this party going • This has allowed “startups” to stay private longer, leading to higher valuations than we’ve seen in Silicon Valley history and no accountability over those companies. • It’s like giving a mischievous toddler a bag of sugar instead of a time out
"They looked from Travis to Trump and from Trump to Travis, but it was impossible to say which was which"
• Both Trump and Uber launch personal attacks on female journalists to silence them • Both Trump and Uber routinely lie. • Both blame and shame their own victims of sexual assault. (Trump: She isn’t attractive enough! Uber: She was dressed provocatively!) • Both had a protected inner circle of bros who are above the law • Enablers and apologists say both Trump and Travis just need “to grow up” • From “Witch Hunts” to “fake news” Valley bros are increasingly using the same language Trump does
Unfortunately for bros, Donald Trump energized feminism
• “The same way a flu shot mobilizes the immune system, he is helping us find our voice. He will be the catalyst who helps us make a major leap forward around equality….One hundred percent of the women I know have experienced sexual harassment. We keep it in the dark.” – Julie Hanna • The careerism feminism of “Lean In” is no longer sufficient in a world where our rights are being taken away. • Women of my generation want to be identified as female founders for the first time, and fight for other female founders
The postEllen Pao world
• Ellen Pao was our Anita Hill moment, where a woman stood up in a court of law and said what we’d all experienced wasn’t OK. • Susan Fowler risked her career coming forward and brought down the most untouchable bro in Valley history • The victims of Binary Capital went on the record, and within weeks toppled the entire firm. • These women have increasingly been treated like heroes, not pariahs. • This is a seismic shift. This has never happened in the Valley before.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
What men need to stop doing
• This isn’t your conversation to lead (KELSO!) • Just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it isn’t rampant • Beware the walk back! Don’t say someone is a “good guy” because of a momentary apology • Don’t hire or *give a favorable review* to a known predator • The following phrases are all red flags: ”It was a phase” “That was locker room talk” “Boys will be boys!” “This CEO of a multibillion dollar company just needs to grow up!” ”If a woman is saying it– It can’t be sexist!” ”This doesn’t happen here!”
What women need to stop doing
• No more cool girl-ism. • Never say: “Well, he’s never done that to me…” • Feeling shame: No matter what you were wearing, no matter where it happened, a man exploiting a massive power asymmetry to hit on you or grope you makes him a predator. Period.
What men need to start doing
• Pioneer the use of software systems to anonymously record the details of abuse or harassment when it occurs and detects patterns • If you know you have a predator– fire him before a journalist calls. Because more is coming out everyday. • Don’t ever say these words: “We don’t have a problem with sexism and racism!” Instead: Do an investigation to uncover the truth. • VCs: Hire more than one female partner and force startups to have inclusion EARLY. • If you have a power position at a major university demand action on sexual assault
(Or put more simply…)
What women need to keep doing
• Speaking up. • Receipts! Paper trails are bringing predators down. • Find a local network of women to help you (or create one) • Amplify other women when they come forward. Make them heroes. • If you come forward to HR or the press, know what your goal is • Fear of being called an “attention whore” is the patriarchy’s voice in your head. Silence it. • We probably need a big, painful legal win.
Remember… You. Are. Not. Alone. [email protected]
(Everyone else: @sarahcuda on Twitter)