2010: The Year of Whining About Women In Tech

Tell me exactly why we should have more women in tech, New Media. Otherwise you're always going to be full of it.
Written by Violet Blue, Contributor

Whining about the inequality of women in tech has been big for page views this year. I'm calling BS on all of it.

Every few months in 2010, someone posted about whose fault it is that there are not enough of us in the tech sectors, and then everyone got upset. Everyone pointed fingers.

It's gender. It's biology. It's brain wiring. The trolls are blamed in equal measure as their victims.

She done it. He done it. No one does anything.

Everyone always takes a position. Blowhards blow harder in the face of confrontation. In August when TechCrunch's Michael Arrington was accused by the Wall Street Journal's Rachel Sklar of not doing enough to support women in technology, he responded with this post saying that the real problem was that we women should quit complaining and start blaming ourselves for not wanting it bad enough.

Seriously: Who Cares?

I know, like we ladies should care what some creepy old dude thinks. But that dude runs a highly visible tech gossip blog, and in his response to the question of why we aren't pursuing careers in tech, Mr. Arrington purports to be an innocent bystander.

Arrington said women in tech have more "equal opportunity" advantages handed to them than men. He delivered cracked-out lines about "the nurturing and risk tolerance needs of women," and in closing he called us "you people."

The most insulting part was actually that Arrington framed his argument with the opening set-up that the tech arena is a meritocracy.

And every person in tech knows that nothing could be further from the truth.

Yesterday, Kara Swisher over at All Things Digital posted The Men and No Women of Web 2.0 Boards. Her piece blasted Twitter, Facebook, Zynga, Groupon and Foursquare for not having any women as directors.

It is true that in cooking, this is technically a weenie roast recipe. It is also true that Swisher, all due respect, is just as worthy of having BS called on her as Arrington.

Same goes for (again, no disrespect) to New Media PhD holder and assistant Professor at Texas State Cindy Royal. In November she wrote an explosive blog post wherein she published a public break-up letter to Wired Magazine (US).

Her beef was the November cover featured a giant pair of lady breasts, and this was the straw that broke Royal's previously-faithful back. To her, this was Wired finally confirming that they were sexist pigs. This, she said, was not helping the problem.

I love boobs as much as the next person who likes sexiness, and I was titillated when I first saw the cover. But – like all the other women in tech I know, we ceased hoping to see cool tech chicks on the cover of a dated men's magazine that typically features dudes like Baldwin and Schwarzenegger a long time ago. Wired hasn't been about me or my kind of tech people (of any gender or sexual orientation) for a long time, if ever.

All women in tech eventually get used to the fact that we're going to see a woman become President before Lady Ada (Limor Fried), Veronica Belmont, or Gina Trapani are on the cover of Wired.

So look -- the bummer of the tech boys' club is not news to anyone with a working vagina and a passion for technology.

I disagree about the breasts being bad, but Royal had a point. Wired behaves badly around the demographic they purport to serve -- the technology sector and its fans.

Wired's lady problem is a great example of the recurring bloat this industry has about gender equality. Basically, the only females on Wired's few notable, recent lady-covers have been bikini-fodder or nonsexual icons -- none of which could code their way out of a paper bag.

Think about it: Wired cover girl Julia Allison is famous for wanting to be famous; anyone featuring her at all was in a journalistic swamp, a prank played by Gawker. Do you really think any woman who wants to be taken seriously wants to share that beauty pageant crown?

They tell us that Wired's job is to sell colorful pieces of paper, and thus market forces must prevail. Sex sells, pretty girls beat ugly ones. We know this. We get it.

Yet Wired is not just a cultural buoy reflecting trade winds to stay afloat. It is a cultural influencer. Don't think you'd recognize Lifehacker's founder Gina Trapani on the cover over Olivia Munn? Wired could have changed that.

However -- I have to call BS on Cindy, too.

Everyone, every single one of you who have whined about women in tech this year are full of it until you can tell me one thing. And then, I will believe you are of a worthy cause. Like so many women in tech, I will no longer avoid attending your "women in tech" events. I will stop despising this cultural segregation for being female. I will stop hating your pro-women-in-tech posts that single us out, all cloaked in goodwill that always feels like it has a darker agenda.

Tell me why we should have more women in tech.

If you're telling me we should, thentell me why we should. Why it is better. What benefits it brings to business, to profit, to innovation. To development. To leading companies and advising them.

I bet you can't.

And for that, you are always going to be full of it.

Every time I read a case made for women in tech – always in good intent, these posts – I try to see if the person making the case can tell me why this would be a good thing. I know it is, and I know why, but do they?

Swisher, for instance, could have told us that companies with a larger percentage of women directors increases share price growth. That the top quarter of Fortune 500 companies with gender diversity outperformed those in the bottom quarter with a 53% higher return on equity. And that firm outperformance seems to happen once there are at least three female directors in the boardroom. Then she could have backed these assertions up with studies and hard data.

They never tell us this. They dance uncomfortably around the truths about women in tech. And black people in tech. And all people of color, and LGBT people too.

I'm tired of the Wired's and the Arringtons and yes, the Royals and Swishers, not having the parts to spell out the problem beyond "it's a shame" "it's not fair" or "it's the right thing to do."

And Arrington, telling us it's our fault without even being able to tell us what "it" is. (TOGTFO, dude.)

Tech is not a meritocracy, and it does not run on the right thing to do.

Look at TIME's so-called Man of the Year; you know what I mean.

Image via Nmap.org.

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