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Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:12 AM

Lawsuit Shakes Foundation of a Man’s World of Tech

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/technology/lawsuit-against-kleiner-perkins-is-shaking-silicon-valley.html?_r=3&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

(snip)

The complaint, laced with accusations of professional retaliation after spurned sexual advances, has riveted Silicon Valley, whose venture capitalists generally prefer media attention for their businesses and deals, not themselves. Instead of talking about the New New Thing, people are discussing an old, old problem. And they are taking sides.

Although the accusations have yet to be heard in court, even some of Ms. Pao’s critics concede that she is exposing an uncomfortable truth about Silicon Valley: starting tech companies in 2012 is still a male game, and so is funding them.

(snip)

Of course, it depends on your perspective. Sandy Kurtzig was one of two female engineering students in her class at Stanford in the late 1960s and is still in the game, with a start-up funded by Kleiner. She always tried to take the valley’s sexism in stride — “When men made passes, I just downplayed it so the guy doesn’t feel he’s being put down when rejected” — but is disappointed by its persistence.

“I am shocked there aren’t more women in high positions in Silicon Valley,” Ms. Kurtzig said. “I always thought the world was going to be gender-blind.”

...



Those last two paragraphs present a very nice snapshot of one of the reasons so little has changed.

Ms. Kurtzig expresses surprise that things haven't become gender neutral, after having explained how she let men get away with treating her in an unprofessional manner and not a colleague and an equal.

Yes, women, if you downplay sexism and misogyny, that actually enables it to continue. It encourages the behavior when you don't call it out.

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Reply Lawsuit Shakes Foundation of a Man’s World of Tech (Original post)
redqueen Jun 2012 OP
seabeyond Jun 2012 #1
redqueen Jun 2012 #2
shcrane71 Jun 2012 #9
MadrasT Jun 2012 #3
Stargazer09 Jun 2012 #6
redqueen Jun 2012 #7
Stargazer09 Jun 2012 #4
MadrasT Jun 2012 #5
redqueen Jun 2012 #8

Response to redqueen (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:15 AM

1. downplays sexism and misogyny, that actually enables it to continue

it works like that with everything in life. why would we act surprised that ignoring something does not make the problem go away. could it be silent acceptance or flat out reinforcement of the behavior?

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:19 AM

2. I have no earthly idea why it's not blindingly obvious.

But we see it all the time. People roll their eyes and say that's just the way it is. I imagine some people do that with racism and homophobia too but not very many.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 12:15 PM

9. It happens all the time with all isms. Recently there was an article of a young girl who stopped

bullying of fellow student, and the school retaliated against her. The backlash can be a career killer.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:30 AM

3. That ties in to what I just wrote over here:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/12553712#post21


You are right about this:

Ms. Kurtzig expresses surprise that things haven't become gender neutral, after having explained how she let men get away with treating her in an unprofessional manner and not a colleague and an equal.

Yes, women, if you downplay sexism and misogyny, that actually enables it to continue. It encourages the behavior when you don't call it out.


I called the vendors out on it, but not my coworkers. Because I didn't want to be that b*tch nobody liked.

I am not a tech geek anymore so it doesn't come up now... I changed careers a few years back.

Hopefully today I would do better (rather than just putting my head in the sand and trying to "blend"). I can see now where I failed but damn... back then, I just wanted people to like me. It was hard enough being the only girl in the room.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:40 AM

6. I wanted to be a computer engineer

Back when I was straight out of small-town high school and blissfully unaware of the real world.

First day of electronics lab, the head of the college electronics department looked at me (the only girl in a 30-person classroom) and said, "Girls don't pass my classes.". The guys did their best to help me throughout the semester, but they could only do so much in such a hostile environment. Especially since they had to be careful not to earn the professor's wrath. My lecture instructor helped me get a D, so I could go on to the next course, but I ended up quitting school before the first year was out.

I have always wished that things had been different. Even after nearly 30 years.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:47 AM

7. I'm sure most of us did the best we could.

I know I was more confused by the way I was treated. Unwanted touching, inappropriate comments... I just wanted to work around 'the smart guys'... I had always liked geeks in school. I never interacted with them though, so it was a rude awakening.

The important thing now is to bring these issues out in the open, so that the women coming into these positions aren't caught offguard, and strengthen anti-harassment policies, and discourage the silent tolerance of it all.

And I do mean ALL.

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Response to redqueen (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:32 AM

4. It's a vicious circle

If we call the men on their misogyny, they retaliate against us and likely ruin our reputations in the process. The sexism continues because it's us against them, and they know that they hold much more power in male-dominated fields.

If we downplay the behavior and try to live with it, we *might* be more successful personally. The sexism continues because they aren't being called on their behavior (because we are justifiably afraid of retaliation).

Rinse and repeat.

Our society is going through a major upheaval now in regards to gender relations. It doesn't seem to be going in a positive direction, either, and that makes me very sad.

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Response to Stargazer09 (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:34 AM

5. ^^^ yes this ^^^

Exactly.

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Response to Stargazer09 (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:51 AM

8. Yes, it's a vicious cycle indeed...

but I think with increased awareness, it will change.

I was more meaning to address the fact that it does get enabled by not calling it out than attack anyone for failing to call it out.

That's the reason I never blame women. Women have a very hard time trying to survive in the P. The blame belongs solely to the P. But by doing this, by calling it out from a position where retaliation is less likely, we can expose these issues and affect positive change. At least that is my hope.

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