This week’s Norwegian Developer’s Conference included a skit that involved inappropriate and offensive elements and vulgar language. We apologize to our customers and our partners and are actively looking into the matter.
At the most basic level it's just straightforward childish humour, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon. But it's also specifically male childish humour. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren't welcome. It's especially irritating in this case because Azure may depend on this constant, so changing it will break things.
But what about the business case for diversity? Can we really afford to alienate 50% of the workforce? In a thoughtful piece ZDNet's Tom Foremski wrote:
Silicon Valley is running hard to maintain its position as the global innovation engine, against competition with dozens of fast growing innovation centers around the world.
Which is why it's puzzling that Silicon Valley has such a large gender gap in key sectors such as angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, engineers, and in senior executive roles.
Why isn't Silicon Valley using all of its people?
A cursory look at the numbers overall makes grim reading. From a paper published by the Anita Borg Institute, Minorities and High Tech Employment:
Most concerning of all is the long list of tech leaders who are not yet prepared to publish any performance data at all. Without evidence and transparency are women and minorities just supposed to trust that they will be welcomed and supported upon recruitment?
Among those not yet disclosing: Apple, Adobe, Amazon, Applied Materials, Broadcom, Brocade, CA*, Facebook, Google, Intuit, JDSU, Juniper, Marvell, NetApp, Neustar, Salesforce, Thought Works, Yahoo!, LinkedIn.
In a week when Marissa Mayer joins the growing ranks of women in top tech jobs, the numbers (and lack thereof) beg the question of whether the success of Mayer, Whitman & Rometti represent the exception rather than the rule for women in tech.
Updated with VC data:
At the start up end of the industry things don't look much better. CB Insights research of 160 funded start ups from January to June 2010 show the same depressing trend. However, one proof point perhaps for the business case for diversity is that mixed gender start up teams are attracting more funding.
And lest we think that the problem is completely universal and therefore immutable consider the statistics from Massachusetts which together with California and New York make up the big three states for VC funding. Of the 16 start ups funded in the period January to June 2010, 31% were all women founders. Compare this ratio to just 3% each in New York and California over the same period.
Referring to the recent Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfied and Byers sexual harassment lawsuit Tom Foremski came up with an ingenious mitigation idea that could just be the start of a tide turning:
I have a great suggestion for a new VC fund from Kleiner Perkins: the $100 million Triple 'F' Fund- "The Female Founders Fund - Investing in all our people." It can't hurt KP's reputation beyond what's already done, and the fund would probably do very well.