New York Times, Silicon Valley, and an Internet of Men
This past weekend, the New York Times published a piece on a sexual discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins. The piece published many sentiments, including a divisive sub-conversation occurring around, mostly, the opening paragraph.
- In a quick social media survey done online, I got several comments in response to the article, and had specifically asked people to focus on the arguments made against the first paragraph of the article, which is what this sub-conversation was mostly focused on.While I recognize that I focused peoples' attention on the controversial first paragraph, The feedback is quite telling, and highlights one primary issue: the questionable journalistic tactic that seems to have been used to pull people into the story (a tactic that isn't limited to just New York Times, I might add).
- Many people saw a clear disconnect between the opening paragraph (and title) and the rest of the argument.
- I am not in this industry so I cant really comment on the merits of the opening paragraph, but as the casual reader it kind of set my teeth on edge. I don't really see how it fits in with the rest of the article's premise. The rest of the article reports on this particular case and the dearth of women in the field, not a true argument that men somehow deserve the right to harass people in the tech field. Seems like an attempt to tie in a loosely related statement to an article in hopes of catching people's eye. Which is a style of reporting (and speaking in politics) that I'm quickly growing tired of.
- I agree with a few others. The miss is that the first paragraph is about engineers / professors who collaborated to invet the internet. The story is about inappropriate behavior / culture in VC. It is obviously intended to be a hook. Probably more approprieate to borrow a story of Wall street type discrimination (there are lots).
- Although I don't tend to get overly worked up about these things, I certainly don't find the opening paragraph to that article anywhere close to constructive. It doesn't add anything to the story and likely only stopped people from reading further and getting to the real issue. And why put MEN in all caps like that? It's thinking like this that sets us back. Favorite part of the reaction story - the tweets!
- Hi Kate. The opening paragraph is bold, and a seemingly cheap attempt by the author to grab readers' attention. If journalism is about being unbiased and simply stating the facts, well then this author certainly has not done that as there is little to no merit behind his claim. BOTH men and women helped to create the Internet, and to say there were no pocket-protecting, Steve Jobs-loving women is completely absurd!
- In addition, many added further comments on sexual discrimination in various fields.
- Being in the industry, it is a very male industry however, the opening paragraph is clearly written to get attention and doesn't have a lot to do directly with the story. As a woman who used to be on an executive team at a start-up in Silicon Valley I have a pretty icky perspective of VCs due to my experience at board meetings and the general culture. My start-up also had a lot of charged misconduct in this area... 3 out of 4 women there had been approach inappropriately or harassed including myself. For me it was not persistent harassment but a peer asked me flat out to have sex with him after work one night (we were both married) - I said no and it was the end of it, luckily. I think this male culture also has implications for understanding new/innovative business models. It's a fascinating thing but because of my experience, I don't really have any interest in raising money in a traditional way.
- I can't disagree with the above comments. The author may have been trying to be supremely logical. Something like, just men (apparently socially inept men who can't help themselves) started the Internet, therefor the men in related fields like venture capital don't know how to behave with women around either since they have employed mostly men historically. That is a stretch and a broad sweeping statement and not truly logical. #fail It sounds like, they did something great so give them a break. I don't like that kind of excuse, or any excuses. The frat party mentality is for your 20's, not 40's. They need to grow up.
- i think the opening paragraph could have been written sort of tongue-in-cheek or it could be indicative of the ubiquitous nature of sexism, which by the way, is alive and well in MANY fields. to me the sad thing is we only acknowledge sexism when it is more explicit (like this case) but really it happens more insidiously- like behind your back rather than outright harassment or oppression, although this clearly happens. if the opening lines were written from a serious perspective it is openly sexists as it portrays women as petty and lacking power (we need to check FB statuses which thankfully we can do bc of men).
- I think the author is trying to paint a Mad Men culture as a basis of the article. Like Jim said, it is a wide-sweeping and derogatory statement that connects venture capitalist with Star Trek somehow. The author also brought in her husband that doesn't add to the story at all and sends a mixed signal that her family is full of serial-suers. With that being said, it is sad that this is going on, and it seems that history continuously repeats itself in every new frontier, hopefully with the speed and reactiveness of todays technology and society it will just move faster.
- It may have been a little over-the-top... I think the better painting of the picture occurs a few paragraphs later in the story as the lawsuit is described: "It depicts venture capitalists here as a group of 21st-century men who may be hard at work building the 22nd century but, when it comes to dealing with women in the workplace, are stuck firmly in the caveman era — or at least in the 1950s. It’s a portrait that many women in tech find all too familiar."
- There were several comments both sticking up for male counter-parts (which is very necessary in this debate when it applies!! There are many men who are supremely supportive of women in tech and in other industries), as well as addressing the larger issue of education on women's roles.
- Honestly, my main thought was, "Why are they opening with a paragraph about stereotypical geeks when the issue is a VC firm?" And I confess to feeling a bit protective of "my geeks"--the guys I have worked with in recent years have never exhibited any of the sorts of behavior these articles talk about, and I didn't think it was fair that male geeks as a group were being presented that way. I felt like the response article was a bit over the top. Raving about what an idiot the journalist is distracts from the root problem...most people honestly have no idea of the major contributions women made in creating the foundation for today's technology. Computers don't have a Madame Curie...schools can teach kids about her because everyone knows what an Xray is. It's an easy story to tell. Trying to teach about, say, Ada Lovelace means first introducing tech ideas and concepts that most people are completely unfamiliar with and have no context for understanding. It's a tricky story, and the short version they .
- I definitely second or third this. VCs and engineers are not the same breed. In general I never had issues with sexism and programmers/engineers - it was typically the technology business crowd that had a frat boy, peacocking culture that I was so put off by and was more exclusionary... and it was exclusionary of many things, not just women.
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