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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Humans Can Be Disgustingly Sexist

Comments (19)

We all know this, but it’s useful to be reminded of it periodically.

I’m chairman of the board of the National Center for Women & Information Technology.  It’s a remarkable organization that has accomplished a great deal under the leadership of Lucy Sanders.  While it would be easy to categorize NCWIT as a "gender equality" organization, it’s not.  Instead, NCWIT is focused on helping the US be more competitive in the long term in the field of information technology and computer science. 

Simply put, the only way to satisfy the increasing demand for computer science / IT folks in the US over the next decade is to get more women involved.  There is a long list of other important reasons to get more women in the US engaged in computer science / IT, but the need to stay competitive in this arena is the one that seals the deal for me.

NCWIT periodically gets emails like the following:

Subject: Answer of why woman in IT is shrinking

IT is a very hard field in which you have to study all the time to keep up with technology.   Also, it involves incredible troubleshooting skills, which by nature woman lack.   What you need are more special laws, so that woman have special privilages, which is the only way their will be an increase of women in IT.   Until then just keep complaining as your gender is perfect at it.  Please post this on your wall at your Facist Woman in IT offices.   Or just delete as women hate the truth.

Someone should teach that guy how to spell fascist.

  • Dave

    - Are you sure it's a guy who wrote it?
    - Perhaps he/she meant “facist” – one who discriminates on the basis of faces.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I am 99.999% sure it’s a guy because he included his name and email address. Of course it could have been a very clever woman trying to spoof everything, but that seems unlikely.

    • Guest

      Anyone can make up a new word. But, if the word can only be understood by yourself or a few, then it is not really a word. Otherwise, a baby of 2 years old can comment here.

  • Artem Frolov

    That and also spelling of “privilege”… and “there” instead of “their”. Obviously guys like that do not meet many women, so their stats are skewed :)

    And think about it that way: women are able to stay out of trouble with better success than men – ask any insurance company. Now how's that for troubleshooting skills?

  • Luca

    Maybe “facist” is not a typo but rather a derivative of the latin “facere” (to do, to make). Hence “Facist Women in IT” could be translated “Women Who Make IT Work” or “Women Who Get IT Stuff Done”.

  • Sue Kunz

    If whoever wrote this is over 70, no comment.

    Otherwise, some brief comments:
    1) support your arguments with data (as all good problem solvers do)
    2) analyze the data and provide statistically significant results
    3) remove the emotion from you comments; they're unsupported
    4) present solutions.(as engineers do)

    5-1000) There is never an excuse to disrespect anyone, based upon gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, national heritage, sexual preference, etc. What a sign of weakness.

    Pathetic.
    Sue

  • http://healthmgmtrx.blogspot.com Jen McCabe Gorman

    Brad – Ned some more hands on deck? How do I get more involved with the center? (governance, committees, helping judge applications, etc. etc).?
    Great post, great center – I'm completely with you. I also think a focus is getting more women involved in governance. We're starting to birth companies (including some tech) but we're still not sitting on enough boards.

  • http://healthmgmtrx.blogspot.com JMG

    I'll be glad if you “need” more hands on deck…:) I'm sure Ned, whoever he is, could use them too.

  • Kimm Viebrock

    Wow – That's a level and depth of complaining I haven't seen in a lot of years.

    I started to respond with a couple more thoughts on how and why this matters and realized it was going long enough to clog up the comments & is better off as a blog post of my own. Since I'm an ID user, you can click to get to it, though substandard troubleshooting skills might get you lost along the way.

    In the meantime, I'll offer to go head -to-head with this guy on troubleshooting anytime because I can most definitely handle the truth.

  • Paul

    I don't appreciate being insulted by you. I am a human and not a sexist. Your headline was as insulting as the ridiculous comment you quoted. :-)

    Ignore the idiots and you will be a happier person, I promise you. The bell curve demands that stupid opinions will exist.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Paul – I'm a little confused by this comment. You can certainly be human and not sexist. My headline included the phrase “… can be …” which doesn't mean that by definition they are.

      I agree – I generally ignore this idiots. This one was so delightfully idiotic that I thought I'd make an example out of it.

  • NN

    Oh, if it were just limited to women in IT. I read this interesting article recently about how Hillary's candidacy is inspiring a 4th wave of feminism–even among women who don't necessarily support her candidacy (http://nymag.com/news/features/46011/) and had to actually go see for myself that the author's reference to a 527 organization called Citizens United Not Timid was for real. Unbelievable.

  • http://juliepenner.com/blog Julie

    An interesting and related article in the WSJ Today on a woman (who used to be a man)'s point of view on discrimination against women in the IT industry:

    What It’s Like to Become a Woman in Tech
    WSJ.com: Business Technology 4/28/08
    Posted by Ben Worthen

    There really is discrimination against women tech workers. That’s the conclusion of a Nicole Hamilton, a techie who’s worked in the industry as male and female. The deck really is stacked against women in IT. We write from time to time about the fact that few women pursue information-technology careers. One reason we often give is that women face institutional sexism that forces some out of the profession and discourages others from entering it in the first place. Usually, these posts draw comments from women techies who say, yes, they’'ve felt discriminated against, and men who say, no, it’s just that women have a hard time hacking it in a male-dominated culture. Hamilton, who spent the first 25 years of her IT career as a man before undergoing gender-correction surgery in the late 1990s, feels it’s discrimination. She was aware of all the challenges women face in the tech industry, but “I thought it wouldn’'t really affect me,” she tells the Business Technology Blog. “I thought women have trouble in business because they are raised as girls and socialized in a particular way.” But Hamilton eventually realized that being raised male didn’t help at all. The reason: The challenge isn'’t fitting it, but overcoming the biases – conscious or not – that her male colleagues have. The moment of truth came during a performance review from a male supervisor. He told her that she needed to be more humble, that the way she worked was too intuitive, and that the she needed to be more like her male colleagues who were more mathematical. In 25 years working as a man no one had ever described her that way. People in IT view it as a hard math, engineering, and grease on your fingernails profession,” Hamilton tells us. “You just don’t picture women doing this.”

  • Dave

    - Are you sure it's a guy who wrote it?
    - Perhaps he/she meant "facist" – one who discriminates on the basis of faces.

    • Guest

      Anyone can make up a new word. But, if the word can only be understood by yourself or a few, then it is not really a word. Otherwise, a baby of 2 years old can comment here.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I am 99.999% sure it’s a guy because he included his name and email address. Of course it could have been a very clever woman trying to spoof everything, but that seems unlikely.

  • Jen McCabe Gorman

    Brad – Ned some more hands on deck? How do I get more involved with the center? (governance, committees, helping judge applications, etc. etc).?
    Great post, great center – I'm completely with you. I also think a focus is getting more women involved in governance. We're starting to birth companies (including some tech) but we're still not sitting on enough boards.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/luca8090 luca8090

    Maybe "facist" is not a typo but rather a derivative of the latin "facere" (to do, to make). Hence "Facist Women in IT" could be translated "Women Who Make IT Work" or "Women Who Get IT Stuff Done".

  • JMG

    I'll be glad if you "need" more hands on deck…:) I'm sure Ned, whoever he is, could use them too.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/sue_kunz9131 sue_kunz9131

    If whoever wrote this is over 70, no comment.

    Otherwise, some brief comments:
    1) support your arguments with data (as all good problem solvers do)
    2) analyze the data and provide statistically significant results
    3) remove the emotion from you comments; they're unsupported
    4) present solutions.(as engineers do)

    5-1000) There is never an excuse to disrespect anyone, based upon gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, national heritage, sexual preference, etc. What a sign of weakness.

    Pathetic.
    Sue

  • Paul

    I don't appreciate being insulted by you. I am a human and not a sexist. Your headline was as insulting as the ridiculous comment you quoted. :-)

    Ignore the idiots and you will be a happier person, I promise you. The bell curve demands that stupid opinions will exist.

    • Guest

      The only group of people who can insult you are the sexists. If you are one, then you are just insulting yourself. Handle the ugliness of your own act.

    • Jenny

      Regarding this stupid comment. May I know which field do not require constant update of your knowledge? There are tons of other fields that deal with very complicated matters. Troubleshooting basically means problem solving. It is just an IT word. Every field requires people to solve problem every day. Women lack troubleshooting skills? Do you even have scientific proof, or just your sexist's mind telling you.

      The only person who cannot handle the truth are the sexists. They are discriminating others based on their gender and think others cannot do certain tasks just because of their gender. These people are called SEXISTS. The person who posted that comment is no doubt a sexist. Why don't you go and deal with your own disgusting mind and ask yourself to stop insulting yourself.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kimm_viebro1980 kimm_viebro1980

    Wow – That's a level and depth of complaining I haven't seen in a lot of years.

    I started to respond with a couple more thoughts on how and why this matters and realized it was going long enough to clog up the comments & is better off as a blog post of my own. Since I'm an ID user, you can click to get to it, though substandard troubleshooting skills might get you lost along the way.

    In the meantime, I'll offer to go head -to-head with this guy on troubleshooting anytime because I can most definitely handle the truth.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Paul – I'm a little confused by this comment. You can certainly be human and not sexist. My headline included the phrase "… can be …" which doesn't mean that by definition they are.

    I agree – I generally ignore this idiots. This one was so delightfully idiotic that I thought I'd make an example out of it.

  • Artem Frolov

    That and also spelling of "privilege"… and "there" instead of "their". Obviously guys like that do not meet many women, so their stats are skewed :)

    And think about it that way: women are able to stay out of trouble with better success than men – ask any insurance company. Now how's that for troubleshooting skills?

  • NN

    Oh, if it were just limited to women in IT. I read this interesting article recently about how Hillary's candidacy is inspiring a 4th wave of feminism–even among women who don't necessarily support her candidacy (http://nymag.com/news/features/46011/) and had to actually go see for myself that the author's reference to a 527 organization called Citizens United Not Timid was for real. Unbelievable.

  • Julie

    An interesting and related article in the WSJ Today on a woman (who used to be a man)'s point of view on discrimination against women in the IT industry:

    What It’s Like to Become a Woman in Tech
    WSJ.com: Business Technology 4/28/08
    Posted by Ben Worthen

    There really is discrimination against women tech workers. That’s the conclusion of a Nicole Hamilton, a techie who’s worked in the industry as male and female. The deck really is stacked against women in IT. We write from time to time about the fact that few women pursue information-technology careers. One reason we often give is that women face institutional sexism that forces some out of the profession and discourages others from entering it in the first place. Usually, these posts draw comments from women techies who say, yes, they’'ve felt discriminated against, and men who say, no, it’s just that women have a hard time hacking it in a male-dominated culture. Hamilton, who spent the first 25 years of her IT career as a man before undergoing gender-correction surgery in the late 1990s, feels it’s discrimination. She was aware of all the challenges women face in the tech industry, but “I thought it wouldn’'t really affect me,” she tells the Business Technology Blog. “I thought women have trouble in business because they are raised as girls and socialized in a particular way.” But Hamilton eventually realized that being raised male didn’t help at all. The reason: The challenge isn'’t fitting it, but overcoming the biases – conscious or not – that her male colleagues have. The moment of truth came during a performance review from a male supervisor. He told her that she needed to be more humble, that the way she worked was too intuitive, and that the she needed to be more like her male colleagues who were more mathematical. In 25 years working as a man no one had ever described her that way. People in IT view it as a hard math, engineering, and grease on your fingernails profession,” Hamilton tells us. “You just don’t picture women doing this.”

  • Guest

    Those are just excuses made by those nasty sexists. I have been working in this field for a few years. I have seem many men having problem catching up with technology. For example, while the whole world is using IDE and development tools, this lead I worked for is using notepad and textpad. He has no idea how to use IDE like Eclipse. I was shocked. I used those when I was a freshman.

    These men do not want to update themselves and improve themselves. All they did is using this SEXISM as a weapon to attack those more capable women and backstabbing others. They should be very ashamed of themselves.

  • Guest

    One of the possible reason men in technology field are sexist. From my research and looking up background of tech guys. I realized most of them are ugly looking, geeky, and have horrible social skills. I believe they probably have bad luck with women. That's why they hated women so much.

  • Guest

    Those men I worked with = Extreme sexist, no-humor, disgusting minds, bad looking, just a nasty piece of crap.

    For eg, someone from non IT dept sent an email to our team and asked a very simple question, this guy didn't even look at who sent out the email, he just came straight to me and said, "ooo..so you don't know the answer." Then, I told him maybe he should check who sent out the email first.

    Another eg, the team was reviewing some code changes and each of us has a piece of paper printed with the codes. I was listening and looking at the codes. This guy co-worker deliberately came over and pointed at my paper and said, "this is the line." I was like I was one of the people who made these changes. And, I have a high degree than he does and more yrs of experiences.

    Another eg, I accomplished a task which required major changes to the systems. My work is tested and checked by both QA and support team before checking in. Everything compiles and builds fine. My co-worker, rushed into my cubic and said in a very irritating tone saying he knows the codes better than I do. Then, he checked every single line I have made changes with. But, he couldn't find any mistake. Then, he forced me to change a dark blue HTML color to black on one JSP page, and reported this to the manager, saying that tiny little cell in a single page of JSP should be black and not dark blue. That color is not even defined in CSS to be used everywhere. Colors are decided by the web designer, not us.

    How can anyone who with theses geeky, nasty ass holes?

  • Guest

    How can anyone work with these geeky, disgusting, and nasty ass holes?

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