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


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

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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.

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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

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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

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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... dunno...

I think actually they are just copying Y Combinator's application. PG & crew recently started asking for that info.

"anything you can do I can do better" does not apply for angel applications; "anything Y Combinator asks we will ask re-worded."

Christine, I still wonder why Sara Blakely's success has not changed the landscape.

Nor the success of Oprah, Madonna, Ellen Degeneres, or Lady Gaga.

Perhaps things have already begun to change and we just need more time?

ok...i'll have you know that this comment stuck in my head all weekend and put my mind monkey into overdrive :O) i don't think anything has changed and we should not take more time...too much time has passed already (watch this youtube vid with pat mitchell () ... she delivers the importance of impatience perfectly.. also watch alicia keys' vid...she's a loving soul)

here's what i think it boils down too:

1.the numbers game: most power brokers and monied people are men

2.men network more quickly and across a wider spectrum for longer periods of time

3.men broker in information (which helps the networking), women broker in emotion (can hurt networking)

4. most women don't actively network with men in business because brokering information FEELS like exchanging favors and this causes conflicts - internally and on the home front if there is a partner

5.men are less receptive to networking with women in business - they perceive them as less capable and they don't understand how to communicate effectively

6.business/workforce culture is still largely run like it was during the industrial revolution

7.women undervalue themselves in business because they don't know how to broker in information - worth is tied to expression and receipt of in kind emotion

8.women who are successful are less likely to help other women up - this sucks...my opinions about why aren't worthy of print

9.women tend to predominantly own/run small businesses and never enter the high revenue slip stream. i think that this is a combo of #1 & #7 but also might suggest their conflicts about managing the home front and a business. most women who own and run businesses still also carry the lion's share of work at home. this sucks too, can i just that, out loud, again? ;O)

10.women suck at asking for help - at home, in business, in general and so do too much themselves...this prevents their businesses from scaling well or at all

the rise of women 2.0 and astiaglobal is a really important breakthrough. what bothers me is that you don't see the likes of oprah or sara blakely or ellen involved in these groups at all. in fact, most of the really active mentors and investors are men which i think is super important because it starts to break down the barriers. but what i want to see is a group of men organize a venture or two focused exclusively on women owned startups. i think this would do more to change things QUICKLY than anything else.

I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on 8...

This is fascinating insight; it would be interesting to see a major 8-9 figure fund that focuses exclusively on women.

ok, david, here's more on #8

i have worked predominantly with men for 20 years. by predominantly i mean this- for 13 of those years i was the only female engineer on the efforts i was on and that was working in or with about 13 different organizations.

on the occasions where other women were brought in - from the client company, other engineers from partnering vendors, or other technical women from different efforts across the company -- some combo of the following three things inevitably happened:

1. the women used their sexuality to sell their ideas/points

2. the men set up a competition between the women in the room to see who was most willing to go to the mattresses (godfather reference, here, not LITERAL ;O) to "win"

3. the women caved at the first challenge to their ideas/points

#1 typically causes the most disruption. the men in the room play into it. the women who execute in this manner see every other woman in the room as a potential challenge to their "preferred" status and the meeting becomes like a bad B-rated reality show (think the Bachelor meets the Apprentice meets UFC cage fight). and inevitably, when the meeting ends, the men who are in attendance say pretty disparaging things about the women how "played it up" (to quote them). and i believe, to a large extent, this biases their view of most women in the work place. there were a couple of places i worked where i refused to go to meetings where these women would be in attendance and would send my briefs out as read-aheads, ask for questions/comments, and have responses mailed back prior to the meeting because the meetings were not only a waste of my time but by removing myself from that dynamic i was less likely to be viewed through the filter of it. there's nothing wrong with being smart and beautiful, and owning both. in fact, in anyone, being at ease with yourself and being confident will do more to communicate your content than anything. but too many women confuse meetings with largely male audiences as pole auditions...

#2 i think men tend to naturally do this with each other. the problem with when they do it with women is that women - who broker in emotion and not information - invariably tend to gravitate to #1 as their strategy for "winning" instead of understanding that while the impulse may stem from some 100 million year old gene expression that has yet to get rooted out through evolution, the best response is not to tear a page from the Quest for Fire playbook but instead to gracefully ignore it and stay on point, kill it with humor, or forcefully call it out and reject it. and then move on.

#3 if i had a dime for every time a woman backed down or broke down in a meeting the first time a guy in the room questioned what she was presenting, i'd be retired. i think too many women go into meetings knowing that most men will automatically downgrade her expertise because she's a woman. at the first sign of questions - even LEGIT questions - i think the bias they head into meetings with throws them on the defensive and then it becomes emotional and it's over. i don't give a shit what someone MIGHT think about what i am going to present or WHY they might think that. i assume most people will have questions and some of them will be legit, some of them will arise because i didn't communicate clearly, and some of them will be completely retarded because a lot of people just like to hear themselves talk. i like to deal in the moment, not the past or the future. i am respectful of all questions but i have an internal giveashitter meter and if i find that there is someone in the meeting who is grandstanding at the expense of objectives being met, i kill it hard and without mercy and publicly because i don't have time for strap hangers. meetings need to result in actionable outcomes, period. anyone who can't contribute to this needs incentive NOT to attend.

i also try to learn from the men i work with. i study them to see how they handle each other, what they do to work together effectively, what words they use, their style of talking, their attention span, what presentation styles and conversational styles keep their interest. i don't think enough women do this and this probably comes from not understanding that to be effective in the power structure you have to know the language of the power brokers. i do this with women too. but i think some women actively choose not to do this with men because they get wrapped around the gender politics axle and i think some women just don't understand the world of business is the world of men and if you want to participate successfully you have to study the language and the culture just like you would if you were going to study abroad in a foreign country and only spoke English. to me the biggest challenge isn't how can i change men in business it's how can i successfully operate in business and still retain my feminine self. trust me, there were a few years where i was widely respected by Marines up and down the ranks because i could drop a perfectly timed F-Bomb with more meaning and impact than they could. it was ridiculously effective and very masculine... not something i want to embrace as a core toolkit.

in my perfect world, more women would be active on larger scales in business and men would do their homework too - studying, trying to understand how to communicate effectively, etc. - because in this perfect world engagement becomes about all participants doing the ground work to establish the necessary framework for working together to get things done.

i would love to see a powerful group of angels/VCs focus exclusively on women. i honestly think that this would pole vault the landscape as opposed to the trickle effect that is running through it now.

Wow, this is really insightful. Thanks for sharing! And yes, I agree. Gladwell in Blink talks about the need for drastic improvements, rather than data-driven iterative progress -- when it comes to leveling the playing field.

..you know, men have a lot of work to do that they aren't doing to improve the gender problems in business. but so do women. what's frustrating is that in the absence of a catalytic paradigm shift the impact of those men and women that are doing the work is negligible. and that's a tragedy for everyone.

What a a great discussion!

Christine - thank you for all of your insight particularly from direct experience.

I can say for myself that the biggest challenge is that during the prime career growth phase (30-40 years old) happen to be during childbearing years. No matter how you slice it, if a woman wants to have children, dedicating the time and effort needed to achieve that level of success and be a great mom is extremely difficult if not impossible.

Also, if you guys have not yet seen the documentary Miss Representation, it's worth a look:

http://youtu.be/6gkIiV6konY

hi suzannah- -this is a great discussion! i am so glad you joined in.

i had my first baby at 33 and my second at 37. 15 days before i had my first, my client blew the effort with their client and what was supposed to be a another 2 year effort was gone. just like that. i had a sense of the impending doom but was locked in a hospital room with pregnancy complications and could do nothing to effect a different outcome. the day i left the hospital to go home with my newborn, i walked through the door of a house i was the primary breadwinner in with a no job, no ability to beat the bushes for new work (new baby, c-section), a hospital bill, and the IRS pissed off because my accountant had not filed any of my corp income returns and i owed $50K to them.

none of that shocked me. it was just the data in my life. and none of it was insurmountable even if all of it was unexpected and inconvenient.

the thing that did shock me was that i never wanted to work again. i just wanted to spend every waking moment for the rest of my life watching my daughter and BEING THERE FOR HER.

it was 6 months before i returned to a job and i didn't work for myself. i returned to being an employee. i cried every day for a month when i would drop my daughter off with my parents. is saw her roll over for the first time in a video clip my mom emailed to me seconds after she had done it. i think i spent an hour in the bathroom at work crying after that.

it isn't impossible to do be a mom (or mompreneur ;O). to make it work you have to do a few things.

1. choose yourself - your kids are only going to be with you for 18 or so years..literally 1/4 of your life. who do YOU want to be? if you could choose how your children described you, what words would you want them to use?

2. accept consequences and collateral damage as facts of life. you can't avoid them because even when you do, they're there. so get over it and move on.

3. remember that children learn from what you do, not what you say. what do you want your children to be able to do for themselves? live it, don't preach it. it's the best way to teach them and empower them.

4.don't fall into the having it all trap because ALL doesn't exist. love what you have. toss what you don't love.

5. always feel free to invoke the girl-rule when ever you need to pivot: change your mind without guilt. ;O) it makes you more interesting and when you like yourself your children learn the most important lesson in life: the world changing power of self-worth.

6. stay present. you can't do this if you are doing it all. make sure you ask for and receive help. most husbands are great dads too. and some of them rock the laundry machine better than you. i'll take sheryl sandberg's concept and flip it some: make room for your husband to sit at the kitchen table -- and make sure he does. you and your kids and your husband will be better of for it because everyone will be engaged.

7. don't be afraid. you have more to lose when you are. and the first thing that will get lost is you.

8. believe. tune out chatter. listen to your heart. let the essence of who you are come out. it is beautiful and speaks to the universe. it will bring you to your tribe if you let it. and they will embrace you.

Wow, what amazing and empowering advice! Thank you, Christine.

This topic has been so hot in the press lately and as a mompreneur with 2 young kids (3.5 & 8 months), it's so hard to navigate the TRUTH between what you hear outside yourself and what you hear inside of yourself.

I love your number one piece of advice on "choose yourself". I've already seen that when I get out of sorts and short with my kids or my husband it is ALWAYS when I am not grounded. When I have not taken care of myself.

And it has taken getting over much guilt to see that I cannot deny my calling. And having my kids see a mom who is happy, fulfilled, making a difference and coming home excited to see them is just as you said above.

And realizing that works for everyone is not necessarily what works for me or my family.

Anyhow, thank you for being empowering, supportive and gracious with your time and your wisdom. It means a lot to me to connect with fellow like-minded moms!

thanks for the kind words suzannah - and for putting yourself out there and connecting. the guilt thing is a killer. listening to your calling is so important.

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