Discrimination Against Women in Tech

Wrote an article for the Tribune on discrimination in tech today.  My friend Sharon Schneider, the CEO of Moxie Jean, wrote a companion piece, Chicago Need Not Import Brogramming Culture.

I agree with a lot of what she says.  I’d like to keep the brogramming culture out of Chicago too.  Sharon writes,

The Silicon Valley I read about in the tech press looks like Neverland. It’s where man-boys go to live out a “work hard, party hard” adolescence, throwing “Hackers and Hookers” Halloween parties, hiring “booth babes,” and going onstage at a conference to unveil a parody app that uploads photos of men staring at women’s chests.

I have a wife and a couple of daughters.  No one appreciates the beauty of females more than me but there is a fine line between appreciation and being demeaning. It’s important we make the tech ecosystem hospitable to everyone.

One part of my piece that was edited out was this,

Venture capital firms have very few women partners. Discrimination isn’t the problem. Most VCs are successful entrepreneurs that have exited startup companies. Many were engineers or in an occupation that lead to venture capital. Women don’t populate the occupations that typically become venture capitalists. When they do, the face of VC firms will change.

Sharon makes the point that most VCs are male.  She’s right. Over time, that will change.  I don’t think that funds should be adding women just to add women.  They need to find qualified women that want to be fund managers and make sure they fit, then add them.

I also don’t think you add women to your team just to add women.  I do believe women can add a different dimension to how you might view the world.  But, make sure that the person fits your culture and has a skillset that is needed to take the company to the next level.

In the meantime, there are things we can do to help female entrepreneurs.  Creating support systems for them is one step.  I created a hackpad a week ago and if you are interested in supporting female entrepreneurs please add to it, and share it with people you know.

Also, the Trib messed up my bio.  I am not the co-founder of Hyde Park Venture Capital fund, that’s Ira Weiss and Guy Turner.  I am the co-founder of Hyde Park Angels.  The fund is totally separate from the angel group, but often times we work together.