Solving tech's "women problem"


Is the answer: “repackaging mass-produced ideas as original ones”? Naw, I kid. Much as I loathe Etsy, seems like they’re doing something good this time.

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I suppose those are the CEOs of HP, IBM and Xerox . Just a minor point: not all Fortune 500 companies are tech companes, so there should be more women in this image. 21 more, to be precise. See? The problem isn’t as bad as you thought! (Although that actually makes the tech sector slightly better than average in this area, with a huge 7% of companies headed by women).


Good for them. For my part, I pay attention to stories of sexism at companies and simple don’t buy their products. If they have a way to comment on their products, I explain why. I also make sure my friends are aware of it as well.

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There’s an interesting comic that’s linked to at the bottom of the story, which nicely illustrates how a ‘good’ company can still fail to provide a supportive environment without realising it.


This article seems fine in outlining the disparities women face in tech, but the central framing of “What Etsy is Doing” is problematic.

They build their own pipeline.
Rather than sit around and wait for female students to sign up, Harvey Mudd made its introductory computer science course mandatory, and then actively encouraged students to sign up for the second. In a similar quest to stock its own talent pool, Etsy sponsors a summer Hacker School, which offers grants to women looking to amp up their engineering skills.

This makes it sound like
a) it’s Etsy’s Hacker school (it’s not. Hacker School is it’s own independent startup.)
b) Etsy is the sole sponsor (it’s not. Juniper, Perka, Stripe, Betaworks, and Fog Creek are also current sponsors)
c) that it’s only a summer program (it’s not - they run year round)

The author also tries to insinuate that Hacker School is an antidote for typical silicon valley culture as epitomized by Y-Combinator

Y-Combinator has 600-something startups that we’ve started. They all look up to the Dropboxes and Airbnbs and Stripes. If they say it’s important for us to have women at the top levels of our organization, that trickles down,” says Jessica Livingston. That’s probably true, but examples like Etsy show that saying something is important isn’t enough. Doing and being something different is what matters.

Which is odd, as Hacker School is a product of Y-Comb.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Hacker School is a great project/experiment and love seeing them get press, but I am troubled by the slanted way this piece framed them. (and, to a large extent, understated what they’re doing).



I was surprised to read that CS graduates among women have dropped so much. My impression is that women in technology is far more acceptable today than in 1985.

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i came for the iPad jokes…man the people here are really slipping.

the world average is 8% female ceo’s. the problem is larger then just the tech sector.

“Women earned majority of doctoral degrees in 2012 for 4th straight year, and outnumber men in grad school 141 to 100”


Given the crap and the infighting inherent to the corporate ladder climbing, an alternative hypothesis is that women tend to be wise enough to opt out. (I would.)


One of the reasons is that there’s not enough support when folks decide to have kids. The paternity leave at most places is pretty terrible too, and unfortunately most of the burden of child-care usually falls to women. Ideally workplaces should have equal time off for both paternity and maternity leave.


Yeah, I’m juggling two phone calls right now, so can’t look it up, but there’s a well known story in which a career consultant says: if you’re a man, make sure to have family photos in your office, but if you’re a woman, make sure to NOT have family photos visible.


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