I normally keep politics off this blog, leaving the back and forth to Facebook. On the social network a former colleague and technology CEO who I respect has been recently posting to his FB page in support for Mr Damore, the author of the Google memo both directly and by resharing opinion pieces and memes he agrees with. His position is that women are underrepresented in tech and tech leadership because we they are underrepresented as CS students due to the many other interests that girls have. To him it's a supply problem starting with K-12 coding camps. Make more female programmers, get more female (or minority I assume) employees.
While I fully support his right to a different opinion, I could not possibly disagree with him more. As the founder of a successful startup his position is especially troubling for what it says to his employees, potential candidates and the industry.
To assume we can fix the problems of our industry by just getting more students interested in the subject is to deny the deep seated cultural challenges that exist in our industry. As I responded on his page…
Yes we need to get more women programmers and perhaps you are right, women don't join the classes and boot camps because as you and Mr. Damore assert they are just interested in something else. However that does not explain why for the number of programmers that we have out there how few women are in leadership roles or who leave the field because of the sexism and exclusion that exist. Your argument is 'hey ladies, come on in the water's fine' while their experience is that too often it means swimming with crocodiles and sharks.
To ignore the challenges that women continue to face in technical and leadership roles in our industry and sweep it away under the excuse of just not enough students/graduates is to be willfully ignorant of what's going on around you.
To defend institutional sexism as simply a problem of self-selection is not just intellectually wrong but morally so as well. As leaders we have a responsibility to create inclusive environments where people can thrive no matter their sex, nationality, race, religion or orientation. As long as I have a role to play in the technology industry I will continue to work toward that goal.