You can look at the gatekeepers in the pantheons of tech in Silicon Valley. Recently released employment statistics at Apple are representative and there 80% of the hires are men, and not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s largely white and Asian men.
The class action lawsuit on the conspiracy between Google, Apple, and others to restrict the movement of their engineers to work for other companies was so egregious that the judge rejected the $324 million class action settlement as too cheap for the conspiracy involved that emanated right from the top with Steve Jobs on down as they hoped to impress labor on their own plantations without escape. These mobility restrictive practices couldn’t have helped women, and sexual discrimination charges in the Valley from women who were denied the right to claim the status of co-founders when they stopped dating other co-founders, just underscores the point.
Then let’s talk about “trolling” and the hidey-holes for misogynists and general haters on Twitter and elsewhere that hound women specifically and regularly. Recent attention came as Zelda Williams, Robin Williams’ daughter, jumped off Twitter because of the grossness directed her way around her father’s unfortunate suicide. A headline talked of “incivility growing,” but “incivility” may just be a soft substitute for what is really nothing other than hate, but because it involved attacks on women more than men, a euphemism was used.
I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy, but I can draw a line between various points. When access to the internet is restricted by cost and profiteering so that inequality accelerates the poverty of all, but disproportionately women and children more than others, and when women are routinely blocked from progress in technology and victimized on the web, I start to wonder what’s really going on here, no matter what the “lean-in” rationalizers have to say.
One of the few places where women seem to be kicking butt is actually on Kickstarter. I read recently that projects initiated by women significantly lead those started by men, largely observers speculate because women want to see other women succeed and therefore support them. Although I wouldn’t be shocked to find that is just what men are saying. It could be that the women’s projects are simply better. Period.
It’s a nasty world for women, so it’s sad, but not surprising, to see how much of what we find in the streets is also populating the internet highway. Twitter claims they are manually trying to keep up with the trolls, but you just know that won’t work.
The companies that succeed will be the ones that allow speech, but also protect secure spaces. In the meantime the tech community needs to get a grip on this problem in dealing well with women, since as the Chinese expression goes, they “hold up half the world,” or as we know in the USA, way more than that.