There’s a reason I write a lot about women and tech. And it’s because if women do not take part in creating our future, we will never be equal. It doesn’t matter if we have parity in every other industry, if we do not have parity at the level of innovation, we will never be equal.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has a vision for the company, and we have a vision for her. Does Marissa Mayer have an ambition gap? Listen to the podcast here:
Transcript of this podcast:
Earlier this month, Comscore released numbers that showed, for the first time since 2011, Yahoo beat Google in traffic; Yahoo’s unique visitors were up by roughly 20% compared to July of last year, when the company came in third behind Google and Microsoft.
In her cover story in the Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” Anne-Marie Slaughter proposes workplace changes in an effort to balance the impossible juggle of career, life, and motherhood.
The problem is, there’s still a lot more up in the air.
Slaughter argues women can have it all – assuming that America’s economy, society, and men just get their heads on straight. She proposes we change the culture of face-time in business, integrate family values into the workplace, and regain work/life balance. Such policies, she says, would enable women to find some sanity.
And she’s right, women can have it all, but we can’t do it all.
I don’t particularly like writing about women and tech. It’s uncomfortable. And it makes me uncomfortable. It means sometimes critiquing people that have been nice to me. It also means critiquing an industry that people like. It’s companies like Facebook, after all, not BP.
It also means that because I know and have experienced exactly how the tech industry is covert – and not in a Chuck Bartowski kind of way – that I should somehow know how to navigate the mines. That I should somehow be farther ahead than I am. But I don’t. And I’m not.
I don’t think it’s just me.
Gender inequality exists, but only in the workplace. Young women grow up believing in equality, but when she enters the workplace, she hits a brick wall. That will stop when Generation Z joins the workforce. Not because gendered roles will somehow evolve in the next decade, but because technology will.
Generation Z is the most technologically immersed and advanced generation ever. They are known as “digital natives” because they have never known a world without iPhones, laptops, video games, chat windows, tabs and texts. On airplanes, toddlers are abated with digital shows and video games instead of stuffed animals and paper coloring books.
The web makes it easier than ever to test and execute on your ideas, at least for those who know how to code: Mark, Aaron, Ev and Biz – you know, the ones running the show. These guys along with other young lads are defining, controlling and programming your life.
“Only an elite gains the ability to fully exploit the new medium on offer,” writes Douglas Rushkoff in Program or Be Programmed. “The rest learn to be satisfied with gaining the ability offered by the last new medium. The people hear while the rabbis read; the people read while those with access to the printing press write; today we write, while our techno-elite programs.
Women were raised with the idea that we have a choice – a choice to be single or not, to have kids or not, to delay marriage, to pursue a career or not, to have it all, to live our lives the way we want to… or not. Female empowerment by way of the pill, Sex in the City, and a steady backlash towards Marie Claire all created a compelling feminist march.
And choice sounded good until hitting the reality of biology.
Feminist back-tracking all the way to mainstream 60 Minutes and others inundated female consciousness with some alarming counsel: career women risk infertility, miscarriage and general unhappiness.
Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington argued in “Too Few Women in Tech? Stop Blaming Men” that he and other men already do plenty for women: he has a female CEO, two out of four of his senior editors are women, and he begs and pleads for women to speak at his conferences.
Arrington’s counter-point, an article in the Wall Street Journal, is equally insidious. The Journal reports that Mediaite founder Rachel Sklar “co-founded a group called ‘Change the Ratio’ to shine a light on women in entrepreneurial roles, and to address the dearth of women at start-ups” and goes on to report that technology investor Fred Wilson said “the industry needs catalysts to spark a virtuous circle of more successful women-led tech start-ups leading to more women in tech start-ups.”
Wilson pledges to “write about successful women entrepreneurs and prod conference hosts to include women on panels.
Florida at Christmastime isn’t particularly warm, but it’s near tropical for Wisconsinites (of which I am finally one), so it is not the light breeze that causes my arms to hover close to my core while sitting at the pool. In fact, it is something that exists entirely in my head, and I have to consciously and decidedly lift my elbows and hands away from my hips and stomach towards the armrests so as to appear confident.
The right to be a woman, in the finest sense, relies on such confidence.
My two-piece bathing suit beguiles a certain flirtatious composure (it’s got polka dots), and at 5’8” (okay, 5’7” and a half) and 130 lbs, I wear it well.