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Does YCombinator discriminate against female founders? Paul Graham Says Women "Haven't Been Hacking For the Past 10 Years"...

Stashed in: YCombinator, @fredwilson, @paulg, Sexism, Hacker News!, XX

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Remarks made by Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham about the relative dearth of female tech founders and the perks of starting to code at a young age appeared in an interview with The Information were picked up by Valleywag:

How can you tell whether you are discriminating against women?

You can tell what the pool of potential startup founders looks like. There's a bunch of ways you can do it. You can go on Google and search for audience photos of PyCon, for example, which is this big Python conference.

That's a self-selected group of people. Anybody who wants to apply can go to that thing. They're not discriminating for or against anyone. If you want to see what a cross section of programmers looks like, just go look at that or any other conference, doesn't have to be PyCon specifically. [...]

We can't make women look at the world through hacker eyes and start Facebook because they haven't been hacking for the past 10 years. [...] [Update below]

It used to be that all startups were mostly technology companies. Now you have things like the Gilt Groupe where they're really retailers, and that's what they have to be good at because the technology is more commoditized. [...]

It's a combination of startups moving into different domains, that whole software eating the world thing, and infrastructure being more available so you don't have to be such a hardcore nerd even to start a startup, like you used to have to be.

Valleywag writes, "Given a chance to defend himself and Y Combinator—an accelerator often credited alongside Stanford as a gravitational force in the startup ecosystem—Graham instead exposed hidden assumptions about women and technology shared by Silicon Valley's priesthood."

Emphasis by Nitasha Tiku of Valleywag:

Does YC discriminate against female founders?

I'm almost certain that we don't discriminate against female founders because I would know from looking at the ones we missed. [...]

The problem with that is I think, at least with technology companies, the people who are really good technology founders have a genuine deep interest in technology. In fact, I've heard startups say that they did not like to hire people who had only started programming when they became CS majors in college.

If someone was going to be really good at programming they would have found it on their own. Then if you go look at the bios of successful founders this is invariably the case, they were all hacking on computers at age 13. What that means is the problem is 10 years upstream of us. If we really wanted to fix this problem, what we would have to do is not encourage women to start startups now.

It's already too late. What we should be doing is somehow changing the middle school computer science curriculum or something like that. God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers. I would have to stop and think about that.

Cartoon from the techcrunch article:

boy toys vs girl toys meme why are there so few women engineers

Paul Graham responds:

More thoughtful people were willing to concede YC wasn't biased against women, but thought we should be actively working to increase the number of female founders. As one put it, instead of being a gatekeeper, we should be a gateway.

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