Articles

UW Allen School Colloquium: Emily Chang (Bloomberg)


– Thanks for being
here, this is fantastic. Really appreciate the turn out. As you can tell this is gonna be a Q&A. And it will be a Q&A
with me at the beginning, but you later on. And Emily has a signed copy of her book for the first good question. So be thinking of those. – [Emily] The first good
one, not the first question. – I get to decide what’s good. So Emily Chang is the
everything of Bloomberg Tech, which is a daily tech TV show. I first met her face to
face, although I’ve watched the show a lot, when I did some interviews in connection with I guess, was it a GeekWire event in the fall? – Yeah, mm hmm.
– And pretty interesting. Anyway, Emily, subsequent to that time, wrote this book Brotopia,
I suspect many of you have not read it. How many people have
actually read the book? Oh, fantastic, good. – [Emily] Yay! Thank you! – Great, okay, so that’s the
subject of today’s conversation and lemme say that I have a slide and a talk I sometimes give
where I’m talking about increasing enrollments
in computer science. And part of what I say is that the field is improving on its dismal reputation for how it treats women and minorities. And I think what this book reveals is that either I visit a very
select group of companies, or I am completely sort of inoculated against perceiving the
things that go on, right? So I think one of the
great things about the book is it not only talks about
what the problems are with really examples that
stunned me, I have to say, but it presents some positive examples and it presents some
potential solutions, okay. So it’s not all bad news. It talks to us about what we can do. – And by the way my benchmark for success was Ed being surprised and
having learned something. Because you have one of
the best computer science professors in the country, and so, if he thinks it’s important. – [Ed] It’s important. – It needs a book.
– And it’s scary. So why don’t we start there,
which is what persuaded you to write the book? What got you going in the first place? And obviously you spend
your life with tech people. So I guess you’ve heard these stories, but why don’t you tell
us where this came from? – Yeah, so, I’ve been
anchoring Bloomberg Tech, our show on Bloomberg
Television for eight years and I’ve always been concerned
about the representation of women in business and
in tech specifically. I mean the numbers are just so bad, and they are worth repeating. You know, women have 25%
of jobs in this industry, they account for about 7%
of venture capital investors and women led companies
get just 2% of funding. Hardly believe that that is because women have just 2% of good ideas. So, you know, that was
always in the background, but my first order of business was trying to build the show and
convince important people to come on the show, and so it was kind of politically incorrect to
start asking these questions like well, but what are you
doing about hiring women? What are you doing about promoting women? What are you doing about funding women? But as the show grew, I
became more courageous about you know, putting
people on the spot. And people would kind of squirm and you know, they would
give the politically correct answer and then they would get off the set and they’d be like (sighs dramatically). And they’d tell you what
they really thought. And so I knew that there
was so much more there. And then at the end of
2015, I was interviewing one particularly very prominent investor, who, you know, they had
no women in their firm at the time, and I said,
you know, what do you think your responsibility is to hire women? And he said, well,
we’re looking very hard, but you know, not enough
women are studying STEM and by the way we’re not
prepared to lower our standards. This was on television. And so that was really the
spark that lit the fire. You know, I knew, it was
almost as if for a moment, someone had actually told me the truth. And that there was, you
know, part of the problem is people believe that they
have to lower their standards in order to find talented women. And there was this amazing
headline in Vanity Fair the next day that said,
“Here’s news to all you smart, “talented women who
wanna work in technology. “Apparently, you don’t exist.” And you know, clearly the tech industry and these companies haven’t
been looking hard enough. You know, more women are
graduating from college today. Women own 40% of businesses, this isn’t just the right thing to do, this isn’t just the fair thing to do, this is the smart thing to do
to build better businesses. And not have blind spots
in your organization. And this is an industry
that is building the future so it should represent
the world’s population. – Focusing on VC for another minute here, there was a really interesting
article by Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times,
maybe two years ago. And it reported on some work
by a couple faculty members at Berkeley’s Business
School, School of Business. And what they had done was
look at all the successful startups and I’ll get the
statistics slightly wrong, a six year period in the
Bay area and New York. And do a regression
analysis on the attributes of the founders of these startups, okay. And rather than a college
dropout in a hoodie, the typical startup founder
had a masters degree and was 35 years old. About half in business and
half in computer science. Interesting thing was when
they looked at the data, they predicted that 20%
of founders of successful startups should have been women. And the number was small
single digit percent. So what’s happening is VCs are looking for their stereotypical
founder which probably is their view of themselves
or something like that. – Totally, and the qualities
that are seen as positive in men are seen as negative in women. So if you have an
investor evaluating a male and a female entrepreneur,
you know, for men, if they’re young, that’s
considered, you know, they have high potential for
a woman if they’re young, oh, they’re inexperienced. If a man is cautious, oh
that’s kind of a good thing, if a woman is cautious, that’s a red flag. And so you know, we just don’t think, we don’t use words like
visionary and genius to describe women, but we use those words to describe dozens and dozens of men. And so if you’re looking
at a male entrepreneur and considering funding
them, there’s this sort of simple risk benefit
calculation you’re doing in your head, do we like this person? Can they execute? Do we like the idea? Whereas if it’s a woman it’s a much bigger sort of, but does she have what it takes? And I, you know, it makes
me sad to think about, but I do think about all
of the women who never got a chance to fund, I mean
to start the next Facebook or Google or Apple, simply because they didn’t look the part. – I’m laughing because back
in October you provoked me to rant about Facebook. That turned out to have been pressured, but it was kind of out there at the time. All right, so you know,
you have some hypotheses in your book about how
we got to be this way. What’s the story? – So this to me, the history of was really the smoking gun and I’ll never forget when my researcher sent
me a bunch of stuff that she’d been working
on and we were both like oh my goodness, this is it. This is what we’ve been
looking for the whole time. In the 1940s and 1950s women actually, I’m sure some of you
in this room know this, women actually played a huge role in the computing industry. Men were very well represented
and primarily represented among hardware makers. But women were very well represented among software programmers. And so they were programming computers for the military and programming computers for NASA, and it literally
was like Hidden Figures, but industry wide. And then in the 60s and
70s, the tech industry was exploding in size and was desperate for new talent. And so they started doing
these personality tests, and these aptitude
tests to identify people who they thought would
make good programmers and one software company
in particular hired these two psychologists who decided that good programmers
quote, don’t like people. Well, if you look for people
who don’t like people, the research tells us you’ll
hire far more men than women. Glad you’re laughing a little bit there. There’s also no research
to support this idea that people who don’t like people are better at this job than people who do, or that men are better
at this job than women. In fact there is a plethora of evidence to support the idea that we
need people who like people and care about people or empathetic to the problems of the
users that they’re trying to solve to be building these products and services for the world. Because as I said, billions and billions of people are using them. But these tests were widely influential, they were used for decades by companies as big as IBM and they shut out more than half the population. And so the tech industry, in my view, created the pipeline
problem by having such a narrow idea of who can do this job. I’m not saying there
isn’t a pipeline problem. There is. But in 1984, women hit
the high point earning computer science degrees, they
were earning 37% of degrees. That has since plummeted
to 18% where it’s been flat for the last decade. And you see about the same trend in jobs, the percentage of jobs held
by women in the industry. And so even though the
industry was exploding in size, the percentage
of women in your seats was getting smaller and smaller
and smaller and smaller. And now we’re here today. And you have the tech industry saying, well it’s a pipeline problem. We can’t do anything about that. When in fact, you can’t
be what you can’t see. And so, at the end of the book, I interviewed these seven young girls who’ve all learned how to code. They’re so excited about doing their part to change the world,
but they read the news, and they know that you
know, Sheryl Sandberg and Ginni Rometty are
two of very few women who have cracked the silicon ceiling and they also know, ya know,
one of them said to me, “Well, I was reading
about Uber and I heard “that Travis was like meditating
in the lactation room. “What’s that about?” And so like, they know what’s going on. You know? And it is just another example that you can’t be what you can’t see. And the tech industry has so much to do to just create a better, as you said, a better working environment. – Yeah, we were talking
before we came down here. And something I was telling
tech companies 20 years ago was instead of giving us
money to have programs to address gender
diversity, they should clean up their employment act,
in some sense create a supportive environment
because word was getting out. In some sense, you know,
my view, optimistic view, had been this was happening. But it’s obviously spotty at best. – Right, and all of these
companies will point to the money that they’re
giving to programs, pipeline programs, but Google, for example spends tens of millions of
dollars on pipeline issues. But they invested $30 billion
in their cloud business. Huge difference in priorities there. – There is a pipeline problem,
but to say it’s a pipeline problem is to in some sense,
finesse what you yourself could be doing about it. – Absolutely, absolutely. – So what, in your view,
is the worst example in your book of something that goes on? – (laughs) Well there are plenty. And also there are bright spots. – Okay, you can have two. (Emily laughing) – Look, I do think there
are some egregious examples in the book and some of you
may have heard about those. You know, Uber was one
of the biggest offenders where some of you may
have heard of Susan Fowler who is the woman engineer
who worked at Uber and she wrote this viral memo about her experience being
sexually harassed on the job. On her first day on the job, her manager propositions her for sex, over the company chat system. So she takes screenshots of it, brings it to HR and says look
what this guy said to me. And HR says, well, we’re
gonna let that slide, because he’s a high performer. And you know, this was not
necessarily an isolated case. This is a company where, so three weeks after she posted this,
I had 12 women engineers over at my home for dinner. Some of them who worked at Uber. And they were like we get
invited to strip clubs and bondage clubs like
in the middle of the day. Is that unusual? And so, you know, for them, – Hey, at least they’re included. (audience laughing) – They could go out drinking
in the middle of the day, and if they came back at
3 a.m. it didn’t matter, as long as they got their work done. And so, some of these
things are just so obviously crossing the line, but in
general what these women told me is that, they’re
often the only women in the room over and over and over again. And so, that’s isolating,
that can be exhausting and it can be very
frustrating because they’re often put in this position
of having to prove themselves over and over again. And it’s kind of this emotional labor, this entire second job that
doesn’t count for anything. And so it’s not these sort
of more isolated, egregious examples that are the biggest problem, it’s the systemic
discrimination that works against everyone and it means that people can’t reach their full potential. Women can’t reach their full potential, men don’t have, we all
don’t have the benefit of their potential contributions. – So you talked about these
sort of screening tests for employment that go back a long way and are tilted. You’ve got some comments about
meritocracy in your book. I have to say that to me,
something that concerned me a lot is the now in vogue
quantitative assessments, okay? And what worries me is that previously, if you got a bad review,
you could at least have some self esteem by saying,
well that guy is just biased. Okay, I’m actually doing fine. Now what happens is you get
this quantitative assessment that gives you a score at the end and it’s based on a set of criteria and a set of weighting factors. And the people who chose the criteria and the weighting factors are the people who succeeded under the existing system. So, you’re getting this
unbiased quantitative assessment that says you fall short. And it’s very hard to refute
that even though it has the same sorts of biases built in. Anyway, tell us about meritocracies. – Well, so the argument
about meritocracies, first of all in my
view, a true meritocracy is impossible to achieve, because we all come to
the plate with different privileges and different levels of access and the escalator of life is moving faster for some of us than it is for others. And fascinating little tidbit about just the word meritocracy, it was coined actually
in the 1950s by a British sociologist who was using it to warn about the future of this dystopian world where everyone just used their education and success to justify
their success, basically. So, you know, it was where
it would be come a tool to sort of justify the
success of the winners and the lack there of of the losers and say well everyone’s
in their right place because we’re in a meritocratic system. And it’s funny, actually, 50 years later, right before he died, he wrote an Op Ed saying I’m so disturbed
by the fact that my term which I threw out there as a warning has now become used by prime ministers and presidents to talk about how wonderful their societies are working. And when you believe you are
operating in a meritocracy, you can actually be
more anti-meritocratic. And sorry this sounds a little jargony, but if you think that everyone
is in their right place, you don’t question. You’re blind to the discrimination
and systemic factors that are working against the
people who are not succeeding. And so Silicon Valley
has always styled itself as a meritocracy, anyone here can succeed. And you know, the book is
called Brotopia, which I know makes a strong statement,
and in my view epitomizes this idea of Silicon
Valley as a modern Utopia, where anyone can change the world, anyone can make their own
rules, if they’re a man. But if you’re a woman, it
is incomparably harder. And I use the PayPal mafia, the founders and early employees at
PayPal who had this huge exit and then went on to found companies, join each other’s companies,
fund each other’s companies, you know, it became this
super influential network that just so happened to be all men. And they called it a meritocracy. And there were no women involved. And you can’t tell me
that’s because only men have good ideas. And Peter Thiel was just
better than all the women. So that’s how I take down
meritocracy in my book. – Got it. So you’ve got this new article you wrote suggesting that Amazon
strive for 50/50 in HQ2, wherever it will wind up. Tell us how that’s going down. – Yeah, so you know, companies always say it’s a pipeline problem and
they say they’re working on it, but it’s gonna take years because they’re so un-diverse already. Well, Amazon has this
opportunity to start from scratch with HQ2, they’re gonna be
creating 50,000 new jobs, and in my view, there’s
no reason that Amazon can’t build a 50/50 balanced
workforce from the beginning if they are thinking about this. If they care about this. And represent people of color in line with the local population. And so what we did is we picked the, they have 20 cities that
are on the short list, we picked the top three that map the best for women in STEM and women
in the workforce in general. And it’s been, the reaction
has been very interesting, because you know, this is
a company that historically has been very secretive. You know, they do have some programs and they have a page about diversity. But you know, I had sources
inside Amazon web services meetings where you know, how
many people are in this room? What would you say like, – Hundred, something like that. – Hundred, okay, so they have meetings of 200 people and five
people in the room are women. That’s a typical day. That’s just a day in the life of an Amazon web services employee. And you know, this is a company that is building the future. We can’t have the vast majority
of people in this industry, the people who are making decisions being almost entirely men. You know, I interviewed Ev Williams, who’s the co-founder of Twitter, towards the end of the
book and I asked him, if you had had women on
the early Twitter team, do you think online
harassment and trolling would be such a problem? And he was like, hm, no,
actually I don’t think so. Like actually, we weren’t
thinking about these things when we were building Twitter. We were thinking about wonderful and amazing things that
could be done with it, not how it could be used
to send death threats or rape threats. And yeah, actually maybe
the internet would be a friendlier and less hostile place if we had done so. And so you know, what
if women had had a seat at the table 30 years ago? Would online harassment and
trolling be such a problem? Would porn be so ubiquitous? Would video games be so violent? Would there be better parental controls on things like YouTube? Facial recognition technology is already a little bit sexist
and a little bit racist and doesn’t recognize
women and people of color as easily as it does white men. And so, in my view, you
know, we’ve never shied away from hard problems, right? That’s what the tech industry does. They tackle hard problems. So if you can get us to Mars and you can build self driving cars, you can hire more women
and pay them fairly, and fund their ideas. (audience applauding) Yes, thank you. – So give us some good examples. – Give us some hope?
– Give us some hope. – So, you know when you were talking about the technical screening, the last chapter of the book is really focused on solutions. And you know, I do think that change needs to come from the top. And we need CEOs and top investors to make this a number one priority. There’s a whole chapter on Google about how Google’s founders
made this a priority in the early days, they
hired these incredible women, they built this incredible business. And then they lost focus
and they lost sight of it. And now, you know their
numbers are average, just like everyone else’s. When you look at Slack, which is obviously a much younger company– – Can I make a comment there?
– Yeah. – Google also had some highly placed women who succeeded by acting like men, okay? And that’s a problem. – Well, okay, and that’s
another conversation. I can’t tell you how many
times people said to me, as I was writing the book,
well, you’re gonna write about mean girls, right? And mean women bosses? And you know what? Sheryl Sandberg did this amazing article in the New York Times about how women, when they think there’s only room for one, are more competitive with each other. So if there’s only one woman on the board, they’re less likely to help other women. If there’s only one woman
on the executive team, they’re less likely to help other women. But if there’s three,
they’re like oh, actually, it’s not this dog eat dog world. Maybe I should be helping my comrades. And unfortunately, we just
don’t have enough examples of women in leadership in general. And so I know you’re talking about, I’m sure you’re talking about
Marissa Mayer in particular. (audience laughing) But what the problem
is, we don’t have enough examples of Marissa Mayers, you know? Like we don’t, there are
so many different styles of leadership and we see
that in so many different kinds of men, but we
don’t see that in women. And so we look at the
one way she succeeded and think, oh that must
be the way to succeed for a woman is to act like a man. But that’s just only one small example. And if we had more women
in leadership roles, we would see so many
different ways to lead. And so you know, I decided
that I didn’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be guilty of
stereotyping even further. There’s amazing research
that shows that women and men are far more similar
than they are different. And any, just as ambitious,
just as willing to take risks. And the differences that you see are a result of socialization. And so, we’ve heard the examples
of you know, in a meeting, so for example a lot
of these tech companies are really aggressive,
super confrontational, it’s like this debate culture. And all the good ideas are
supposed to rise to the top. Well, actually, women, when they act like that are unlikable. For cultural reasons. And so they find that
if they act that way, it doesn’t necessarily
work in their favor. And so there are all of these
social and cultural forces that are working against women that in my view would be soft if we just had more women at the table. Like if you have a dinner table, and you have 10 men around it, you swap out one man for a woman, the conversation will
change like a little bit. But if it’s half and
half, it’s a completely different conversation and
that’s what needs to happen to have a real culture change. And then maybe we’d be able to see, well, okay, is that really
the only way to succeed if you’re a woman? Are all of the women CEOs succeeding because they’re acting like men or not? – We were on a positive thread. – Oh yes!
– I torpedoed it. So let’s get back to that. I’m sorry. – Look, there are some,
many good examples, and actually I should mention that some of the best examples are
companies that are run by women. And so if you look at The Runway
or Stitchfix or Eventbrite you’ve got women CEOs and you’ve got a gender balanced work force. So just having a diverse
group of people at the top of an organization, they
attract other people who are also diverse and
who care about these things. At Slack, Stewart Butterfield, the CEO has made this like his mission. And he tweets about it,
he talks to everyone in the organization about it, they know. And if your boss wants you to do something like generally you do it. And so some of the
things that they’ve done, they’ve diversified
their recruiting teams, they’ve got recruiters of
every size, slice, color, they are sourcing from
under represented schools, HBCUs, different geographical regions, schools in the south, sourcing
across a range of ages. I mean the tech industry
also has an age-ism problem. And I think it’s under reported. You know, but Slack very much know. They don’t have ping pong tables, they’re not like trying to be
a college dorm fantasy land. Their motto is work hard and go home. (audience laughing) And so you know, it’s
about sustaining people over the course of their lives. Some of the most surprising
research that I found is that hiring is one thing, but it’s retention and
progression that is, equally if not more important. And so women are twice as
likely to quit tech as men. And they’re not going home to take care of their families, they’re
taking jobs in other fields. They’re 800% more likely
to leave jobs in tech than they are to leave
jobs in other fields. And you know, they sight
all the same reasons like hostile environment,
work-life balance. And these are things that men want too. You know, the things
that are good for women are also good for men. They’re good for people. And so that’s something that I think, if companies sort of realized well hey, this is good for everyone. That maybe it would be more motivation. And Slack has actually
proven that they can beat not only the industry
average, they can beat the pipeline problem, just by
being a good place to work. So they have 44% women across the company. Women are 48% of managers. And I believe women in
technical roles is something like 35%, which is still
not where it needs to be, but it’s a lot better than the rest. – Questions from you folks? I’ve got more, but let’s hear from you. Larry. – [Larry] Do you have thoughts
about other industries? Biotech, engineering, et
cetera, same or different? – Similar. You know, computer science in particular has the worst, I believe, dearth of women. And actually engineering and biotech index even better than computer science, but other STEM fields definitely
have similar problems. But it is computer science
that has the worst of it. And you probably know far better than I do what’s happening in the
education system and why that is. – But I wonder for example,
there are a set of work environment issues in the
computing industry, right? That are not yet solved,
and I wonder if those exist in other industries. – Sexism and sexual
harassment exist everywhere. So this is not a problem that’s
unique to Silicon Valley. But, I can’t tell you how
many times people said to me, Ugh, Silicon Valley can’t possibly be worse than Wall Street. Well, in fact it is. So Wall Street is actually,
if you look at the top banks, it’s 50/50, they have a lot of work to do when it comes to women
in leadership positions. What I think, and by the way,
I started writing this book before Trump was elected, before
MeToo, before all of this. And you know, what I
think makes Silicon Valley different is this belief that
we’re changing the world. And that we’re kind of
better than everybody else. And in a way that’s been like
an impediment to admitting that Silicon Valley is
also a part of the problem. And so much wealth and so
much power has been accrued in such a short span of time. And we’re talking about more money, more power, more responsibility than Wall Street, than Hollywood. And that’s led to a sense of arrogance and entitlement that I think
is part of the problem. And a sense of moral exceptionalism that divorces you from reality. – I just spent 18 months
on a National Academy study committee of sexual
harassment in academia. And I’m not allowed to
talk about the report until it appears in June,
but it’s through review now. But, I have to say that’s just staggering. Things are no better in
academia than anywhere else. And you know, the data on under reporting, for example is stunning. You know, when you ask
someone if they’ve experienced harassment they say no, and when you say well,
have you experienced any of the following specific things, all of which satisfy the legal
definition of harassment, they say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Okay, so just through
bad survey methodology there’s a tremendous under reporting independent of the
reluctance to bring things up the HR hierarchy for fear of blow back. – And look, I do think the public pressure and the conversation we’ve been having has really made a difference. So, Uber, just today
announced that they’re ending forced arbitration, which
means that employees and passengers who have
a sexual harassment or assault complaint, don’t
have to settle those claims in private, they can do so publicly. And that is a huge step forward. We’ll see what happens, but it is, it definitely would not have happened if Susan Fowler didn’t do what she did. – So here’s my pet theory which
you will immediately rebut. Okay? I believe that while Seattle,
based on almost no evidence, that while Seattle has
a long distance to go, it’s not as bad as Silicon Valley. And I base this on a set
of companies around here and their leadership. I look at Microsoft with
Brad Smith as President. I look at Zillow and
Redfin which have really very principled leadership. I look at the fact that
to muck out the stables at Uber they brought Czar
Dara down from Seattle, okay? So I don’t know if this is true or not, but it’s my sort of regional contentedness and self promotion version of this. Not to deny the need to do much better here than we’re doing. – It’s nice that you feel that way. (audience laughing) I’m happy to rebut, happy to rebut. So, you’re not the first person
who’s raised this with me. This is my second time coming to Seattle since publishing the book
and I spoke at Microsoft and Amazon and Redfin,
I’m speaking at Zillow. And you know, I’ve been really encouraged by the fact that these
companies are inviting me to come in and talk about this. ‘Cause they could easily say, look, your book is called Brotopia, no thank you very much. – Do execs talk to you at those companies? – They do, yeah. – They spend time with you, okay. – Yes. And you know, employees are
coming up to the microphone and they’re fired up and
they’re asking questions, what can we do? But, if you look at the actual numbers, Seattle is no better than Silicon Valley, in fact, it’s a little worse. And I said women led
companies get 2% of funding, well in Seattle they get 1% of funding, so I’m sorry.
– There ya go. – I’m sorry, I’m sorry to
break that news to you. But look you know, there is,
– All right, we’re done. – Good momentum.
– Have a cookie on your way,
(audience laughing) – And you know, I don’t know if any of you have been following, but
Amazon just this week, they got a share holder proposal to require Amazon’s board
to interview a diverse slate of candidates when they’re looking for new directors, it’s
called the Rooney Rule. Some of you may have heard of it. And Amazon’s board immediately
rejected this proposal. And there was a revolt inside the company. And just yesterday Amazon
said, okay, we’ll do it. And so, you know, these things matter. It’s not gonna happen over
night, but the conversation that we’re having and the public pressure, it can really make a difference. – More questions. Up here. Let’s take a woman’s question. We’ll alternate. – [Audience Member] What
role do you think legislation and nonprofits such as universities play, especially when we’re talking
about like pay equity? I have a strong suspicion that
the people who have benefited from the current structures
are not particularly willing to change unless there is a demand. The demand you just mentioned
is one, but you know, I personally don’t see
anyone clamoring to say that like 50% of the money that’s spent on salaries at this tech
company should be spent on female salaries, right? Like,
– I like that idea though. – [Audience Member] I know right? Can you imagine? – Right, and by the way the
pay gap in Silicon Valley is five times the national average. So for an industry that loves data, just look at your own data. And to me this is like the
easiest thing to solve, right? You’re very wealthy companies. – Right, but who’s
measuring the promotion gap which I think is the
less told story, okay? Because women, – Well, and but the pay can also lead to, like if you wanna stay in
the workforce at all, right? It’s a direct, it’s directly correlated to how valued you feel. – Right, but you can imagine that women in particular roles,
the easiest thing to do is to pay women in equivalent
roles the same as men, which of course, nobody does, okay? Or few people do. But even if they do, you
can imagine that women stay in those roles twice
as long because they are slower to be promoted. – Right, and certainly pay is not the only thing that matters, but it is one thing that
matters that is easily to your point, easily measured. You know, I get asked
about quotas all the time. I actually think quotas, are very interesting idea
especially from a university perspective, and I know that
they are some legal issues. But you know, we have
to understand that men and women are, boys and
girls are coming to the table with different levels of experience and facing all of these cultural issues that happen at sort of
every stage of life. That said, I think you
guys are doing amazing work just supporting women through the field and getting them to graduate
with computer science degrees and I believe you guys
are indexing far better than universities across the country. And that’s so important,
but you have one of the woke professors in the country
running your department. So, you know, I’m actually curious what you think about, what
you think about quotas and regulation of this and whether you think
that could have an impact. – It could, there are legal issues. And I think this, you know,
back to the Amazon board, I think the data is pretty compelling that if under represented
groups are considered as part of the pool, they get selected in sort of, in proportion. – [Emily] Right. – Again, I’ve seen this
in the National Academies for example, as when
there was an incentive for nominating women, women got elected. Because they are highly
qualified, it’s just guys don’t think of them.
– Right. And I do think you know,
in any interview process, you should be, you shouldn’t
even start the process until you have qualified female candidates and qualified candidates of color. There’s a venture capital
firm called Upfront Ventures that’s doing something really interesting. When they give an
entrepreneur a term sheet, they basically have tech’s
very of the inclusion rider that Frances McDormand
talked about at the Oscars, where you’re committing to
building a diverse team, you’re committing to
interviewing a diverse slate of candidates for every single position. And one of these
entrepreneurs came up to me and said, well, we’re really small, we’re only six people,
but two of them are women, and two of them are under
represented minorities, so it’s actually working. And so, that’s the power. The power of rules. – Got it, who else? Yeah. – [Audience Member] How
much of this disparity do you think is attributed
to lack of soft skills? And also for an add, what
do you think we could do in college level education to facilitate the development of these
soft skills that can possibly break down the barriers? – So I do think that empathy in general is under represented. And I’m sure some of you
heard about James Damore who at Google wrote a viral
memo in which he argued that men are biologically
more suited to programming than women, which in
fact is the same argument that was made by those
psychologists 50 years ago and it’s a completely mistaken assumption. And he sited all of these researchers who disagree with how he used the data. There is no evidence to support the idea that men are better at
this job than women. But there’s many many arguments to be made in favor of having
a diverse group of people who have all kinds of
skills, soft and hard, whatever you wanna call
them, making these products that are being used by billions
and billions of people. If you don’t have a
diverse group of people making these products,
you will have blind spots. You will miss things. Your products won’t be as
good as they could be, period. – So you made a really important point, which is that we try to support women, we pay much less attention
to bringing men along, okay, and I think that’s
a really important point. Now having a reasonable
representation of women probably helps the community as a whole develop the sorts of skills
you’re talking about, but we could do better
on that side for sure. Way in the back. – [Audience Member]
Since you had your cameo on Silicon Valley, I was
wondering about your impression on specifically that type of
show kind of being broadcast to a lot of people who
might be watching it and thinking this is what tech is like. – So, I know that Silicon
Valley has been knocked for it’s portrayal or
lack there of of women. I think they are conscious of that, and we’ve seen women better represented in successive seasons. That said, in my view, Silicon
Valley is art imitating life. It is not life imitating art. You know, this problem
existed decades before Silicon Valley the show was made and I think their
responsibility is to entertain and get people to watch their show. It’s not to change the
representation of gender in the tech industry, that’s
the tech industry’s problem. – [Audience Member] In
your book you questioned whether harassment would
be as present on platforms such as Twitter and Reddit
if more women were involved. Would you say that privacy
concerns around companies like Facebook would be as
bad if they didn’t have those blind spots, by hiring more women (speaks quietly) people? – So that’s a really interesting question. So, and that was one of the most, one of, just sort of an interesting
nugget that I uncovered. So Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook in 2008 and at the time, Mark
Zuckerberg in those early years was really obsessed with
openness and Twitter, Twitter was taking off,
owning real time news, owning international and he was like, what’s happening? Maybe people wanna share more
than we thought they would. And he was really
focused on pushing people to share more. And they had this
feature location tagging, where you could tag someone in a location, but you couldn’t untag yourself. So like, I could say, hey I’m hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg in Las Vegas. And he couldn’t say, um,
no, I’m in Palo Alto, what are you talking about? Which is a perfect use case. Like well, people should have the freedom to untag themselves if
they don’t wanna be tagged. And this issue became like
a knock down, drag out situation within Facebook
and you had people like Zuckerberg on one side, and people like Sheryl
Sandberg on the other side, saying like look, well,
let’s think about a woman who was tagged in a situation,
a compromising situation or a compromising photo that
she wouldn’t wanna be in. This just doesn’t make sense. And so ultimately it did not come to be, but it is a perfect example
of how having a diversity of people at the table,
they had different opinions and they came to a
decision that in my view is better for all users. And what’s interesting
about Zuck and Sheryl is that he made as much space for her in their partnership as she did for him. Clearly it’s not perfect. But I do think that her
leadership has been really really important, not just because she’s a woman, but because she has a
different perspective. She’s older, she’s had
different experiences and so you know, it’s not only our gender that makes us different. But we all have, and I talk
a little bit about race in the book and we talk about age, and we talk about maybe you
didn’t graduate from college. We all have different
parts of our identity that in a way are like a ball and chain. They’re something that
we can’t escape from. And so being a woman is
one thing, being a woman of color thing is another thing. Being a woman of color
who’s gay is another thing. And so, you can double or if you’re talking about double
and triple minorities, you can sort of double and
triple just how hard it is to be in this industry
if you have more of these parts of your identities
that can make things more complicated in industry
where most people are male and white. And so, my Facebook example is not to say that Facebook is perfect,
but here’s an example of how having a diversity
of genders in this case, led to an outcome that
I believe was better for users in the long run. – By the way harassment
is very much dependent on race, and a set of other factors, okay, so looking at harassment
through the lens of women is too coarse a grain to
understand the phenomenon. – Well, and you know, men
experience online harassment too, but women actually experience
the most extreme forms of it, and they’re more
likely to be harassed simply because they are women. So simply because of their gender. – Yeah, what I was saying
was in the work place, African American women
for example experience different forms and
greater forms of harassment than Caucasian women. – And Ellen Pao actually
makes the argument that it’s not having just women at the top of these companies, but women of color that will make an even bigger difference. – Right, right, right. Linda you had a question. – [Linda] Yeah, I’ve been
appointed to a sexual harassment complaint
committee for the upcoming national conference in my field. And there’s been a document
about what harassment consists of to put forth to the members. And a member of the executive committee has asked what exactly are we gonna do if there’s a complaint? And I’m wondering, what do
companies do, if anything, and what do conference
committees do if there’s a complaint about sexual harassment? – Well, first of all there
needs to be a process. And these processes need to
be decided and written down. So that when there is
a complaint you’re not sort of reacting to just the complaint, you’re following the process
that’s been put in place. And part of the problem is
so many of these companies, A, they’re too young, they haven’t thought about these things, and
venture capital firms they’re too small, they
also haven’t thought about these things. They just didn’t have policies. And so one of the most, one of the recent sort of campaigns in VC has been called hashtag movingforward, which is just pushing
venture capital firms and startups to make their harassment and discrimination policies public. Which sounds pretty straight forward, but actually they don’t have
them in the first place. So they’ve been forced to
actually write them down. And then publicize them. Which is a really good exercise. I mean, I just think we
can’t, we have to deal with these things before they happen. Otherwise you have an emotional reaction which won’t necessarily
be the right reaction. Or the reaction that you would have if you followed a sort
of standard procedure. – There are fields that are ahead of yours in that they’ve been doing
this for several years. You can probably find processes on the web that you could scoop up. Way in the back, somewhere over here. – [Audience Member] Just
wanted to ask about your perspective on tokenization
and unrecognized division of labor, this is (words
obscured by coughing) in the sense that my
colleagues who are women, who are people of color are
asked to serve on committees, be the face of
representation of diversity, women who mentor other women
on their path to success. And after they’ve done all this labor, they look around and all of
the men have been writing grants and starting their
businesses and so on then. They haven’t had time, needed
time to do all these things. What do you think about (speaks quietly) – The same thing has happened at Google where you know, women were supposed, part of, one of the solutions was to get women in every single interview process. And then they weren’t doing the work. And when it came time to promotion, they were like, they didn’t
have anything to show for it, because they
were always interviewing. And so I definitely
think that’s a problem. And we need men to be part
of these committees too, because as you said, we
need to do this together. You know, this can’t be a conversation that women and under
represented minorities are having with themselves. And speaking of tokenization,
I think another problem is you’ll often see,
you know you’ll see some of these venture capital
firms, which have hired their first women in 40 years. They’re like okay, we’re done. Well, obviously one is not
enough, because we’re talking about a real culture
change that is necessary. That said, you know, I do
think that it is incumbent on everyone to participate. And so I wouldn’t be
comfortable just saying, me as a woman saying,
no I’m not gonna help, because I don’t wanna be tokenized. You know, there is this sort of balance that needs to be
struck of playing the rules of the game and changing the
rules of the game as we go. You can’t just run in and say, I’m just gonna do everything differently, that’s not necessarily
gonna be well received. But you can play the
game that’s on the field and change the rules
of the game as you go. So that the game and the playing
field becomes more level. – Okay, there’s time for
one or two more questions. Emily needs to be out of the door at five to five or she’s gonna
miss her next appointment. Here please. – [Audience Member] Yes,
to what extent do you think you can have a change in Silicon Valley of this change of the rules
of the game as you said? Of this impolite treatment
of women and minorities until we have change in the
leadership of our government that is also, seems to have
very much of these same symptoms of impolite treatment
of women and minorities. – Absolutely, yeah. I mean as I said, this is a cultural issue and it’s certainly not
limited to Silicon Valley. You know, what I would say
is that these companies have a choice. You know? All of these companies have a choice about how they run themselves. And you know there was
some conflicting opinions about James Damore who was
ultimately fired at Google. And people were concerned
that that was tromping on freedom of speech, but you, speech is not free if other
people are being silenced. Right? And so all of these
organizations have a right to decide the rules and the cultures, the rules that they want to implement and the culture that they want to create. Regardless of who is president. And regardless of
unfortunately how some people in this country might
treat women, which I think is tragic, but they have an opportunity to do something different
and to lead on these issues. And so I think that the
conversation that we’re having is incredibly important. You know, I for example, someone told me she gave my book to her CEO and he read it and like within two weeks
had scheduled a trip to visit 30 different cities,
to visit their headquarters, sorry, to visit their offices
in 30 different cities around the world and talk about this. And that she was getting more
funding for girls in STEM, more funding for diversity
initiatives at the company. And those are things that, I
mean that means so much to me. Like if that’s just happening on one company, that’s success. But really, success is
gonna be when we don’t have to talk about this anymore. When a woman engineer or
a woman CEO is normal. And a woman directing Hollywood movies and running for president or
being president is normal. And I hope that happens in my lifetime. – One more. Yeah please. – [Audience Member] What’s the best way to deal with tokenism? A few years ago when I
applied for an internship, someone from that
company, not on that team I was applying for, but
someone from that same company had told me that I needed to
put in my resume somewhere something that would
indicate that I as black otherwise I wasn’t gonna
get the internship. Which was not something I wanted to hear. So what’s like the best
way to deal with tokenism, ’cause when I start
interviewing, I realize, I’m like ooh, I am a token here. – So, look, in my view, so I had a similar
experience in my first job after graduating from college. I got into this super amazing program for aspiring news producers and reporters. And I found out that it
was a diversity program. And it was like a dagger, I was like oh, that’s why I’m here. Like it was like a dagger to the heart. That said, now looking
back, A, I’m really glad I had that opportunity,
and B, I would celebrate your uniqueness and exploit it. Because you have so
much to offer, why not? Like why not? That said, you know,
you can only do as much as you feel comfortable,
and I think we all should be choosing places to work and choosing environments to
be in where we feel supported and we feel like we can learn and we feel like we can
really be ourselves. ‘Cause you don’t wanna be
anywhere where you can’t be yourself, it’s just not worth it. And there are so many companies out there that are desperate to find talented people who don’t look like them
where you can really make a difference. And maybe you don’t, maybe
you are more isolated in the beginning, but
you attract more people who look like you, and that makes a real culture change somewhere. And you know, as I’ve said,
we have to do this together. And I think we all need to
listen to each other more. And we need to ask, how are you doing? These are things that we
just don’t ask enough. We just do. And so, I’m excited to be able to start this conversation and for you
to continue this conversation when you leave this
room, and help us all get to a better place. – Great way to wind up. Before we thank Emily,
let’s see, first of all, it’s on Amazon. (audience laughing) It is a really educational book, and it has its uplifting parts as well as its shocking parts. Did you here have, young
woman in the glasses looking down, do you
have a copy of the book? – [Audience Member] Not yet. – Okay, you do now, you asked the, – All right! – All the questions were good, but, – Two, I’ve got one for both of you. You and you.
– Great okay, – Wait can you guys,
I wanna take a picture of you with Ed and tweet it, can you guys not move? – A selfie, hang on. – Wait, here, here. Here, this is fine, I’ll take it of you. Here, just,
– Okay. – We can do a selfie too. Yay! Wait wave, say hi. Oh my goodness you guys are so cute. Thank you. (audience laughing)
Thank you. – Emily thank you. – All right, thank you. (audience applauding)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *