How Misogyny Has Affected Silicon Valley And The Tech Industry As A Whole
Any fan of any reality TV series can understand that without controversy, entertainment would be tough to come by. When a controversy becomes personal and translates into a professional environment, however, the lines are crossed, and it isn’t “Real Housewives” at all.
It’s real life, and it's more serious than anyone watching could possibly understand.
Unfortunately, lines were crossed against Whitney Wolfe, the (former) VP of marketing for the global phenomenon, Tinder. Wolfe was effective in her position. Tinder continued to grow and acquire more members under her wing, as the app accumulated more than 600 million swipes each day.
Out of nowhere, Wolfe was suddenly fired from the company this past June.
Why? Well, if you’re a tech-savvy feminist, don’t ask Vice President of Tinder Justin Mateen. His justification was that having a young female on the Tinder team made the company “look like a joke” and that other social media platforms, like Facebook and Snapchat, “don’t have girl founders.”
That statement alone is a problem. It’s a reflection of Mateen’s attitude toward not just his own coworkers, but also a reflection of how many young professionals look at their female Silicon Valley colleagues.
So, a female didn’t come up with the concept of Facebook? Not every company must operate identically to others, even if it’s within the same industry.
It’s inevitable that some industries will be more male- or female-dominated than others, as they often pertain to their interests as individuals. Consider the fashion and public relations industries: They're recognized for being led mainly by women.
In tech, there’s enough room in Silicon Valley for literally any idea to manifest into a business. If there’s enough room to consider all types of apps, websites and gadgets, why isn’t there enough room for women to work alongside the men?
Perhaps we have actions like Mateen’s to blame. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, explained to Forbes,
[Women] think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.
Company culture is just as important as the jobs the employees are doing. You spend more than 40 hours per week at your job, which is a lot of time with coworkers.
Both corporations and small businesses make occasional efforts to group all of their employees together in an effort to maintain positive camaraderie and influence them to socialize and become friendly with each other. It’s meant to create positive office relationships.
However, it seems as though tech office environments aren’t so receptive to the idea of coworker camaraderie. Even though women are educated and prepared for the technology workforce, the argument against workplace sexism is constantly hanging by a loose thread. The unfortunate reality is that the thread neither falls nor tightens; it just lingers in the same spot.
There’s no scientific law that proves men to be more successful at a job than women, or vice versa. Every person is unique and stronger in some areas than others, which is an affirmation of which every person must be reminded.
What one may lack in HTML or CSS proficiency may be gained in other field skills, like the ability to engage others in an ongoing conversation or persuade the advancement of a business deal.
If you’re a lady pursuing a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field, don’t let the fear of unsupportive colleagues slow down your progress and blow out your flame.
If anyone tries to blow out your flame, keep your candle burning and let the fire ignite -- that’s what Wolfe is doing. She’s suing Tinder in a sexism lawsuit and was apparently ridiculed for a significant portion of her time while working at the app.
While there are no exciting details from the lawsuit yet, we do know that Mateen was suspended indefinitely from Tinder. Guess the "joke" is on him.
Photo Courtesy: HBO/Silicon Valley