The lively Disrupting Diversity in Tech Summit began this afternoon with the Silicon Valley Women in Technology panel. The discussion on promoting gender diversity featured Kabam Co-Founder and CDO Holly Liu, Anita Borg Institute CEO Telle Whitney, Germanium Ventures Managing Partner Meera Kaul, Salesforce Senior Software Engineer Sukrutha Bhadouria and Rhodium Capital Venture Partner Oded Hermoni.
Moderated by KQED Silicon Valley Reporter Rachael Myrow, the panel emphasized the bias built into current tech culture. The panelists estimated that only about 11% of founders are women here in the United States and about 2.5% in China.
“For many women joining [or creating] companies, they are joining a culture where they don’t feel welcome” Whitney said, with Myrow later pointing out, “It’s an embarrassing number: Companies want to talk about who’s coming in the door, but very few want to talk about who’s coming out!”
“You notice that when [Yahoo! CEO] Marissa Mayer said she was pregnant, she followed up immediately with the plan for her maternity leave. [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg said he and his wife were expecting and he didn’t say a darn thing!” Liu said, adding “As a founder, they put the pressure on the startups, particularly here in the U.S. Now, I have to make it a business decision when it should actually be a societal decision.”
They agreed that the shift needed to happen not only with women, but with men being more inclusive and wiser in the built-in cultural bias.
Set throughout Wednesday afternoon, Disrupting Diversity in Tech Summit will have several discussions including Why Tech Needs Moms – An Economic Force That Drives Innovation and a Fireside Chat with Chen Levanon.
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