Sign up FAST! Login

Katherine Losse, the Woman in the Facebook Frat House - WSJ.com


Stashed in: Women, Facebook!, Best PandaWhale Posts, Zuck!, @angellist, @oprah, Awesome, Kardashian, Sexism, Blink, @cjc, @sherylsandberg, women, CJC, Sara Blakely, life, @a16z, @TheEllenShow, @ladygaga, Madonna!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

I got it: If you couldn't handle the graffiti, or the unrepentantly boyish company culture that it represented, the job wasn't going to work out.

...

At a one-on-one meeting with Sheryl weeks later, I found out that she had an interest in the topic of women at Facebook and in Silicon Valley generally. She scheduled individual meetings with all the women in engineering. By that point, they numbered about 15 out of hundreds of engineers.

I told her that there were a few situations involving men in the department that I thought she should know about. For example, one of the senior managers had been known to proposition women in the company for threesomes. I also had an issue with an engineer who behaved, by turns, dismissively or aggressively toward female product managers. As I said to Sheryl about this second situation, "I was told by an engineering director to go in and talk to the guy and try to resolve the situation myself, but when I did that, the engineer somehow twisted things around and called me a bad feminist, as if to distract from the conversation at hand, and the conversation didn't go anywhere. It was pretty unpleasant."

The article says only 2 of Facebook's first 50 employees were women: one admin and one customer support.

That's awful.

Later, there were only 15 female engineers when the engineering team numbered hundreds.

Also awful.

Bad, Facebook. Bad, Zuck. Bad.

I'm creating a new stash called "CJC" for Cristina Cordova and her awesome posts. Might need to make an IFTTT recipe to auto post her links as stashes!

Did @cjc have anything to say about Facebook's deplorable hiring record pre-Sheryl Sandberg?

Unfortunately not, she tweeted about the master password and engineering manager.

I suspect when she reads the book, she will write a tumblog post.

i had a conversation with my two co-founders yesterday (both guys named mike, LOL) in which we were talking about the fact that less than 3% of women with high tech startups get funded (angel or VC). this conversation was started by a chris dixon tweet in which chris said that the CEOs of startups need to be the people who reach out to the VCs because ultimately, VCs are backing the person as much as the company ( i agree with this). i'm the CEO of our startup. one of the mike's said (with an impish grin), well, given that less than 3% of women get funded, don't you think one of us should reach out to the angels/VCs?

i am lucky because, even though it was a rhetorical question, my partners not only support me but they believe that the disparity in funding of women and the dearth of women in general in the tech industry is deplorable and does not reflect them or their values.

the thing i don't get is, what's the root cause? i get that starting out, facebook was a group of young, single, immature college guys. but what of the VCs and angels who continue to invest in them? because, while i get that it's about ROI, not every startup with a young 20-something single guy at the helm who gets funded posts returns like FB, or instagram, much less succeeds. so, what's the deal? what is really at play here?

Nearly every Venture Capitalist SAYS he wants to fund female founders.

Example: http://pandodaily.com/2012/06/20/ben-horowitz-on-sexism-in-silicon-valley/

And yet, when I look at his portfolio, I only see one company with a female founder (ShoeDazzle, whose "founder" is Kim Kardashian): http://a16z.com/portfolio/

He says one thing but does another.

I call a16z out on this, but all of Sand Hill Road's VCs are guilty of it, so the following applies not just to a16z but to all venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road.

How can they say one thing and do another? Possible reasons:

1. They believe they finance deals gender-blind; every deal is based on its own "merit" and ability to match their "investment thesis". (PandaWhale wasn't turned down because it has a female founder; it was turned down for "lack of traction" or "not enough product-market fit yet".)

2. They pattern match. Every company gets compared with successful companies they've known in the past. There aren't a lot of female founders of the past, and most notable ones like Magdalena Yesil of Cybercash, Donna Dubinsky of Palm and Handspring, Audrey MacLean of Adaptive, Jayshree Ullal of Arista, or Judy Estrin of Packet Design, are all understated and out of the limelight.

3. They have very few female partners. Sequoia, Benchmark, and Redpoint have a total of zero female partners. Even Kleiner Perkins, which has the most female partners of any VC firm I know, has gotten a reputation for not quite treating all women right.

That said, the future looks better.

Two examples: 500 Startups has several female partners and has backed dozens of female founders, and Felicis Ventures recently published that 20 of its 80 portfolio companies have female founders.

I wish we could accelerate the future getting better.

The first female founder to make a billion dollar company will get peoples' attention and accelerate the change.

A Female trombone player?

In Blink, Gladwell tells the story of a female trombone player (Abbie Conant) who participated in a blind audition for the Munich Philharmonic Opera and floored the judges… twice.

Blink one

After she played (behind a screen), the judges were so impressed that they sent the remaining contestants home. They knew that they had found their trombone player after just a few notes.

Or so they thought…

Blink two

Orchestras at this time (1980) were largely male enterprises. And trombone is the most powerful, most manly instrument in an orchestra.

When Ms. Abbie Conant stepped out from behind the screen, the judges were no longer so sure that they had found their trombone player. Their eyes could not believe what their ears had heard.

An (un)educated Blink

The judges had spent their entire lives training their ears to hear perfect pitch. They didn’t need to do extensive analysis to know that Conant’s audition was pitch perfect.

Their eyes didn’t have the same training. Their eyes had simply never seen a female Trombonist, and so they couldn’t make sense of it.

The intuitive response of the judges’ ears was spot on. Their eyes though needed to be re-trained.

http://www.28andchange.com/blink-or-moneyball…-yes-please

//

Using data from the audition records, the researchers found that blind auditions increased the probability that a woman would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 percent. The likelihood of a woman's ultimate selection is increased several fold, although the competition is extremely difficult and the chance of success still low.

As a result, blind auditions have had a significant impact on the face of symphony orchestras. About 10 percent of orchestra members were female around 1970, compared to about 35 percent in the mid-1990s. Rouse and Goldin attribute about 30 percent of this gain to the advent of blind auditions.

"Screens have been a very important part of the whole audition process," Nelson said. "My sense is that blind auditions have made a tremendous difference in the amount of hiring discrimination women face."

http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pwb/01/0212/7b.shtml

//

My sister works for Allianz, a top insurance company in Germany. I was chatting with her colleagues about the same challenge Allianz faces when hiring top female executives.

Perhaps AngelList is the closest thing we have to blind auditions; I think Gladwell's book asserts that incremental change is not required. Blind auditions helped make a rapid advancement forward.

adam, you're right. a lot say they want to support women. i always check their portfolios. i asked a few outright -- where are the women owned companies you have funded. they either didn't know or didn't have any. i wonder if the women in the VC firms are reluctant to found merit-worthy female CEOs for fear of being accused of gender bias (which would be wholly ironic, right?) or because they have adopted the prevailing mindset of their largely male corporate cultures?

sara blakely is a billionaire...her story is powerful and inspiring and she is one smart woman who can execute with mad talent. sadly, her success has had little to no impact on the landscape.

david, love the blind audition!! funny you mention that because several sites for angels in our region strongly encourage you to submit a video saying that proposals with videos tend to be more successful in getting funded... maybe it's because they feel they can get a sense of the founders' passion/abilities... maybe it's just an easy way to down select... dun