The world of tech has a long entrenched tendency to be very male and very white. The problems with this dominant culture is expressed pretty well here:
In fact, by some metrics, women-owned companies outperform the average: women owners, on average, are more conservative about spending money, and are more likely to survive the transition from startup to established company. Despite this, women are virtually absent from the upper echelons of technology. While venture-backed technology companies do not represent the majority of U.S. companies, they are given the highest status in Silicon Valley and are overwhelmingly run and funded by men. Only 8 percent of venture-backed startups are founded by women, and only 14 percent of venture capitalists are women; at the top technology venture-capital firms, only 8 percent of investment professionals are women.
There are two major implications of this type of discourse: (1) While the technology industry is supposedly egalitarian and democratic, it privileges the voices and experiences of men. Just look at the percent of female speakers at tech conferences. (2) Because the number of women in computer science is dismally low for a variety of reasons, it contributes to maintaining a male-dominated culture of production. Technology skills are valued most, but women in tech generally work in marketing, public relations, project management, event planning, graphic design, or community management — all lower-status jobs than developers, engineers, venture capitalists, or entrepreneurs.
These problems are widely acknowledged by others. There are many organizations dedicated to supporting women in technology, and there has been a flurry of attention paid to egregious sexist incidents at technology conferences and among tech subcultures. But complex problems have complex solutions, and the persistent idea that the technology industry is a meritocracy undermines these efforts, because it implies — incorrectly — that those who do not rise to the top are less capable than those who do.
Perhaps just as perilous for the tech industry, people of color are the fastest growing users of tech. But they don’t have a substantive place at the table when it comes to development. And if you’re a woman of color, the table barely exists on your planet.
So how did we get here and how do we fix it?