Why No Women Want To Be On A “Women In Tech” Panel

Women in tech, the song that never ends … Somebody realizes that the ratio of women verus men in tech is 80 to 20 and decides to write post blaming something or in the case of Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar writing a post in the WSJ calling out TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington for the lack of women in tech, to which he responded.

This lead to a stand alone “Women In Tech” panel being added to program here at TechCrunch Disrupt, with speakers BNTR Founder Lauren Leto, Samasource founder Leila Chirayath Janah, Girl Developer founder Sarah Chipps, Zivity founder Cyan Banister and Mediate’s Rachel Sklar, moderated by our own Sarah Lacey.

Much like the VC panel, the “Women In Tech” panel was full of strife and awkwardness, bi-furcating into NYC vs. Silicon Valley and 23 year-olds versus 37 year-olds etc.

Lacey started the panel emphasizing the fact that “there’s no women in tech” isn’t news, directly countering the premise of Rachel Sklar’s “Change the ratio.” Let me save you a recap of a lot of the bitching. Basically there’s one female contingent that thinks the lack of female startup founders is due to lack of awareness of the lack female startup founders and there’s another female contingent that thinks that the lack of female startup founders is due to the fact that women do not start up startups. Whew!

What most of the women on the panel could agree on however was that none of them actually wanted to be on the panel, “I don’t believe in a all-women panel and putting people on stage unless it’s merit driven,” said Banister, “I’ve seen nothing but red carpets in our industry.”

Chips also debated the necessity of the panel, As a developer Ive gotten so much assistance from the men out there.”

Sklar was perhaps the only dissenting voice, “There’s benefit to including women in everything.” You can’t really argue with that.

Chirayath Janah implied that the premise behind the panel, was a rich people problem, “We have greater things to do deal with than ‘Why aren’t women covered in TechCrunch?’” (Ed note: For the record, women are covered in TechCrunch. A lot.)

Leto’s take, “Maybe next year we can name this panel something specific, like ‘Solutions that work for getting more women into tech.’”

Greer, who had a negative experience with commenters on the original article, shared her somewhat meta perspective, “We’re on a panel for a blog that just got acquired for a bunch of money, that is run by a woman. [TechCrunch CEO] Heather Harde is proof that we can be successful too.”

Basically reasons for why there isn’t more women in our industry are well known and much discussed, primarily the lack of role models for women who are interested in tech.

How many TV programs and movies have key protagonists who are engineers, let alone women engineers?

Said Sarah Chips, “It’s tough for guys too, this isn’t an easy industry.” Word.


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