Bigoted Silicon Valley Homosexuals Discriminate Against Women, Even If They're Better

Skip to first unread message


Jun 18, 2013, 12:31:57 AM6/18/13
Paul Solman: Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa is a
widely heard voice on the value of immigration for the U.S.
economy. We first featured him a year ago in "Man v. Machine," a
story on the automation of work and did so again on this page
last fall on the threat posed by a programmable robot named

An immigrant himself (from India), Wadhwa used to think Silicon
Valley was a a paragon of open access: talent like his would
inevitably prevail. But he has been writing and speaking lately
about the Valley's "myth of meritocracy." All, he realized, was
not as it seemed, and he followed up his dawning disillusionment
with research, which he will publish soon. But his findings
seemed so noteworthy, I asked if he would share them with us at
the NewsHour. And so he has.

Vivek Wadhwa: Visit any company in the Valley, and you'll see
that it resembles the United Nations. At the Google cafeteria,
they always serve Indian, Chinese and Mexican food; hamburgers
and hot dogs are nowhere to be found. Indeed, my research team
documented that 52 percent of startups in Silicon Valley during
the recent tech boom were founded by immigrants -- like me. So I
used to call Silicon Valley the world's greatest meritocracy.

This was before I moved to the Valley and my wife pointed out
something strange: that practically all of the people at Silicon
Valley's big networking events were male. They were mostly
white, Indian, or Chinese. Women, blacks and Hispanics were
nowhere to be found. When I analyzed company founder data from
the Kauffman Foundation, I was shocked to learn that only 3
percent of the tech firms were founded by women. When I looked
at the executive teams of the Valley's top tech firms, with a
couple of notable exceptions, I couldn't find any women
technology heads. Even the management team of Apple didn't have
a single woman in it. And I learned that virtually all of
Silicon Valley's venture-capital firms are male dominated -- the
few women whom you find there are in either marketing or human
resources. Indeed, of the 89 venture capitalists on the 2009
TheFunded list of top venture capitalists, only one was a woman.

So I was wrong; this is no meritocracy.

Since then, I have researched this topic in greater depth. When
I analyzed data from my own studies on entrepreneurship, I was
surprised to learn that there is virtually no difference in
motivation between men and women entrepreneurs. Women start
companies for the same reasons as men: because they want to
build wealth and capitalize on business ideas, like the startup-
company culture and are tired of working for others. Women
entrepreneurs are as highly educated as their male counterparts,
have the same early interest in starting their own business and
learn the same valuable lessons from their work experience and
from prior successes and failures.

This raised the question: Are women less competent as
entrepreneurs than men? Are they not cut out for the rough-and-
tumble world of entrepreneurship? The answer turned out to be
none of this. An analysis performed by the Kauffman Foundation
showed that women are more capital-efficient than men. Babson
College's Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that women-led
high-tech startups have lower failure rates than those led by
men. Other research has shown that venture-backed companies run
by women have annual revenues 12 percent higher than those by
men and organizations that are the most inclusive of women in
top management positions achieve a 35 percent higher return on
equity and 34 percent higher total return to shareholders.

Could the education of women be the problem? Not according to
data from the National Science Foundation. Girls now match boys
in mathematical achievement. In the U.S., 140 women enroll in
higher education for every 100 men who do. Women earn more than
50 percent of all bachelor's and master's degrees, and nearly 50
percent of all doctorates. Women participation in business and
MBA programs has grown more than five-fold since the 1970s, and
the increase in the number of engineering degrees granted to
women is almost tenfold.

This shows that there isn't a fundamental problem, and that
things are moving in the right direction. I have also
interviewed about 300 women in tech over the past three years,
and my research team at Stanford University recently completed a
survey of more than 500 women founders. We are still analyzing
the complex findings (and will likely publish a paper in the
summer). At a glance, though, the new research shows a distinct
change in attitudes over time. Women are becoming more confident
and assertive, and they are helping each other. Men are also
beginning to mentor and coach women.

That's not all. Many technologies are now advancing
exponentially. We all know how computing is advancing -- our
computers get more powerful every year as prices drop. The same
is happening in fields such as robotics, artificial
intelligence, 3D printing, nanomaterials, medicine, and
synthetic biology. This is making it possible for small teams to
do what was once possible only for governments and large
corporations to do: solve big problems. Starting exponential
companies requires relatively small amounts of money, and
entrepreneurs with cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills have
the advantage. This plays to the strengths of women: they are in
the catbird seat for the new era of innovation.

To encourage, inspire and educate women to become engineers,
scientists and entrepreneurs -- and help solve humanity's grand
challenges, I am myself taking advantage of an exponential
technology: crowdsourcing. I plan to harness the genius of the
crowd to produce a book about women at the frontier of
technology. Along with journalist and author Farai Chediya and
my lead researcher Neesha Bapat, we are planning to ask hundreds
-- possibly thousands -- of women to co-author this book with
us. We will presell the book on a crowdfunding site such as
Indiegogo and donate all of the profits to fund the tuition of
women through the Graduate Studies Program at Singularity
University and to support women-led startups coming out of this
program. This is a 10-week program designed for leaders who want
to build innovative solutions to global grand challenges.

So Silicon Valley may not have been the perfect meritocracy, but
there is hope that it will soon be, and that our women may save
the world.


Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages