There are a lot more men in the tech and startup space than there are women. I think we need to ask… is the ratio of men to women in the tech space a problem that needs fixing?
Are we seeking balance just for the sake of balance? It’s ONLY a problem, if women aren’t given the same opportunities as men to thrive in the tech space.
In his post Too Few Women in Tech? Stop Blaming the Men, Michael Arrington makes the point that women actually have more opportunities than men in tech, they’re just not as interested in it. He writes:
The problem isn’t that Silicon Valley is keeping women down, or not doing enough to encourage female entrepreneurs. The opposite is true. No, the problem is that not enough women want to become entrepreneurs.
My friends Danny Brown and Geoff Livingston see it differently. In their post Why Tech Already Has Women (And Why They’re Better Than Arrington) they said:
In spite of the statistical advantages of women in tech, negative trends towards male speakers and executive leadership continue. Worse, reading this negative enforcement of sexism in tech has been a damn shame. Working with great women in tech — Susan Murphy, Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse, Allyson Kapin, Amber MacArthur, Sarah Prevette, Lisa Kalandjian and Cali Lewis to name a few this year — has been a phenomenal experience for both of us, and they demonstrate every day how brilliant and capable they are.
Danny and Geoff make some great points and cite some very interesting stats in their post, but I wish they didn’t put so much focus on Arrington. He’s not the issue here. The stats they provide also don’t tell the whole story.
From my experience, there are clearly less women starting businesses in tech than there are men.
Arrington’s points weren’t attacking women, they were defending against those that say it’s men’s fault that women aren’t as present in the tech space. It was actually in support of women doing great things and it made a call for more to rise to the opportunities.
I, like Danny and Geoff, have seen many women do amazing things in the tech space.
In the NYC tech scene, I see more and more women thriving. At New Work City, an amazing developer and entrepreneur named Sara Chipps runs [edited] Girl Develop It, a web development class that’s packed every week. Girls in Tech is growing rapidly, providing educational workshops, networking functions, conferences, social engagements, and recruitment events all for women.
Are there as many women as there are men at most NYC tech events? No, but it’s getting closer.
So I go back to my question… is this really a problem? If women were being prevented from getting involved in the startup and tech space, that’s one thing. Clearly, as we have seen so many rise to do amazing things in the tech space, they’re not being held back.
The opportunities are there. The only thing I see holding women back is this notion that “tech is for men”. That’s no one’s fault, and it will change with time. It’s dying as we speak.
To this point, it’s just been a space that tends to appeal more to males. Teaching and PR tends to appeal more to females. It happens. Why does it happen? Who knows…
In the end, the best person for the opportunity should be the one to get it, regardless of gender. Just make sure you’re not overlooking the amazing women that are out there making shit happen.