Girls Who Code

I feel badly for Paul Graham because he's being made out to be something I am sure he is not. But the brouhaha that he unleashed about women founders, women coders, and women hackers is a good thing because we ought to be having a broader conversation about these issues.

Paul asks "God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers?" and that is a damn good question and one that I have been thinking about a lot over the past four years. We see very few women entrepreneurs walk into USV and that is disappointing to me. And I agree with Paul that one of the issues (but by no means the only issue) causing this gap, is that young women are not embracing tech in the key development years in middle school and early high school.

At The Academy For Software Engineering (AFSE), we use a "limited unscreened" model to accept students. It's limited because you have to attend an open house and make AFSE your first choice, but once you do those two things, its a lottery system to get in. So effectively the distributiion of students admitted is going to be very similar to the distribution of students who apply and make the school their first choice. In our first year, we admitted 24% young women. In our second year, the percentage was less, I believe below 20%. This is very upsetting to me and we are working on a number of things to change this. It will require working hard on the parents of the young women and the middle school guidance counselors. There is a lot of systemic bias in the system against young women taking this kind of direction with their studies and their career. And we must change that bias and it must be changed at the middle school level.

However, the young women who enroll at AFSE are incredible. I have spent a fair bit of time with them and I can tell you that they work hard, study, take school seriously, and can code as well as the boys. Last week I got to hand out the awards at the first ever AFSE hackathon. The winning team were all freshman, two girls and one boy. These girls were good, really good. I was super impressed.

Afse hackathon winners

So it can happen, it should happen, and if we make the effort, it will happen. 

There are a number of important initiatives under way to try to change things. The title of this post refers to one of them, Girls Who Code, which is a summer program in NYC and SF and now adding after school programs for young women to learn to code. There is also Black Girls Code, solving an even more difficult and important problem. And programs like TEALS and which are bringing CS education to the broader public school landscape will certainly help get more girls into coding too.

Taylor Rose, who is a young woman studying at MIT, wrote a good post about all of this and more yesterday. I think she sums up the situation as well as anything I've read.

There are efforts underway to attempt to close the gap between women and men studying CS. And it can be done. Harvey Mudd now enrolls as many women CS majors as male CS majors. Here's a ten minute video that talks about how they did that:

So as Taylor suggests in her post, instead of turning Paul's comments into a blogosphere shitstorm, maybe we would all be better off staring the issue in the face and thinking about how each of us could help make a difference on this issue. It's an important one and I am glad we are talking about it.

#hacking education#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Richard

    This will not even be an issue in 5-10 yerars. Percentage of medial school class who are female in 2012, 50%, in 1965, 9%. Same trends for many other core sciences.

    1. William Mougayar

      That’s a very insightful analogy.

    2. fredwilson

      i hope you are right. do you know what ended up driving such a big change in women studying medicine?

      1. Richard

        Remember STEMS are academic tracks. To me the issue is Visibility and Life Style. Keep working on Both. As data science continues to be a greater and greater part of doctoral programs and with R and Python becoming more and more apart of these programs, focus on academic departments (its already happening) and be sure they include coding in their curriculums. For those not in the academic tracks, get the message out that there is a pot of gold waiting and a great flexible lifestyle waiting to be had.

        1. Gustavo Melo

          How are visibility and lifestyle considerations different between men and women? Are there factors or requirements in these areas that are being met for men but not women?

      2. carribeiro

        My sister is a doctor, and I have several women friends who are doctors too. I have a theory: women generally take their health more seriously than men. Part of this is due the unique female needs, part due to concerns with family, but what really counts is that from a very young age women start seeing a doctor regularly. The rise in women medical doctors is related with the increase in medical attention over the second half of the 20th century, and with the fact that many women grew to prefer being examined by another woman.Note that the specializations chosen by men and women in medicine tend to be very different. Nothing stops a women being a great surgeon, but most surgeons are still men; but other specializations are preferred by women.If this theory is correct (and it ought be at least partly correct), the increase in women entrepreneurs and coders should follow a similar pattern, but depends on exposing young girls to technology in ways they can relate to, in the same way any young girl can relate to the experience of visiting a woman medical doctor. That’s something that could be better explored.

        1. Richard

          It’s not just medicine. More than 50% of graduate degrees in the US were earned by women. It’s the lifestyle. PS my girlfriend is a first year resident. The reason why women don’t go into surgery? Truth is, many of the men are assholes and you would have to spend 10 years working for them to get into through this specialty.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            > More than 50% of graduate degrees in the US were earned by women.And what fraction of that is Master’s degrees in educationfor K-12 teaching?

        2. ShanaC

          Ironically, a lot of the areas women prefer are lower earning and supposedly more family friendly

    3. JimHirshfield

      47 years between those data points in medical field…a profession that’s been around for thousands of years. Where are we on CS timeline?

      1. Richard

        Don’t follow your point. Not sure on CS but graduate degrees as a whole are 50/50.

    4. Ted_T

      Pure wishful thinking. NYU in the early ’80s had over 40% female CompSci majors. My first job out of college, developers were 50/50 male – female.Things have deteriorated considerably since, and California is much worse than New York. People are starting to notice now, because startups have become more fashionable.Why have things deteriorated? My theory is that programming in the ’80s was viewed as a reliable way to make a good living. By the 2000s it became the next job most likely to be outsourced. Smart women started looking elsewhere – in NYC especially to investment banking. The existence of the startup lottery hasn’t really changed the calculation. I don’t thing programming will attract more women until it again is viewed as a reliable, well paid job.

    5. CJ

      It’s like the Vatican’s ideals spread to the mainstream or something.

  2. William Mougayar

    I was also surprised to read about the unfair backlash Paul has received. He was stating the issue as he saw it, and expressing hope it would improve.Truth is there are tons of initiatives everywhere like the ones you mentioned, aimed at lowering these barriers and improving the ratios.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      He’s taking heat because YC is developing a reputation for mostly backing founders of a certain demographic and using data to support that thesis.Sure, it’s their money, and they can do what they want with it. But that doesn’t mean those outside that demographic have to cheer on the sidelines.

      1. theora jane

        It’s never their problem, it’s everybody else who are always wrong.It’s this actitude of refusing to genuinely listen that’s at the center of the problem. Tone deaf.

  3. Semil Shah

    Few key takeaways here:-Very few successful people in tech are addressing this issue from a root-level early education point of view, so we need more people like you with a voice to write things like this.-As a writer himself, best if PG (and others) to blog and own their words. It can be dangerous for someone to outsource their thoughts to a journalist who either doesn’t pick up on the whole context or has an agenda.

    1. fredwilson

      You are sooooooo right about that second point (both actually). I like to give talks and do public interviews and write here at AVC. I do not like to sit for private interviews with journalists. The risk of a misquote or having words turned on you is wayyyyyyy to high for my taste

      1. Semil Shah

        It’s an odd, viscous cycle. Protagonists sometimes are fueled by their ego to get “press” and attention, so they (in)directly seek out to be quoted, profiled, or interviewed. They want something. The writer, on the other hand, may have a bias, or agenda, or just simply be unable to grasp the context of what he/she is investigating. Put those two things together and there are possible permutations for a disaster. The common thinking still seems to be impressed by getting press outlets to cover them, as if it carries some weight — but the risk of being misquoted, taking out of context, lumped into another story, etc. is just too high, especially for high-profile people who could themselves become targets. In the face of that, writing in one’s own words (through blogging, for instance) removes 99% of those risks. It may lead to less gravitas, prestige, or distribution, but the protagonist owns the message (good or bad) and has to go through the exercise of thinking about what he/she has written before hitting “publish.” By the way, I had a feeling you’d blog about this issue soon (and not give an interview on it!) given the vitriol and instant Twitter-mobs that form.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          The ‘press’ is in the ad business. The’journalists’ are ‘fishing’ for the ad revenue,and the journalistic ‘content’ is the ‘smelly bait’ for the ad hook.Heavily ‘journalism’ and its writing techniques are from the culturesof humanities and fictional literature, So, the content is usually in the’framework’ of what we now call’formula fiction’ with good guys,bad guys, a big threat to the good guys from evil from thebad guys, etc. So, the ancientGreeks discovered that this ‘framework’ is a sure fire way to getand keep the attention of an audience,and that is what ‘journalism’ wantsand does.Journalistic content would be just smelly junk in any serious field –any of the STEM fields, medicalscience, medical practice, law, the military, anything at all serious in project planning or execution, etc. Want to fly in an airplane, crossan ocean in a boat, ride an elevatorto the top of a tall building, or driveacross a bridge designed with thetechniques of formula fiction?Got to remember, those tabloidsbeside the checkout lines atgrocery stores are full of fantasynonsense, but they sell millionsof copies! Similarly for nearlyeverything on TV.Heck, those cultures of humanitiesand literature are so pervasive in the ‘media’ that sports is broadcastwith the techniques heavily from formula fiction. Auto racing? Aboutthe engineering of the cars? Heckno! It’s about making fictional’characters’ out of the drivers!Pro basketball? Actually learn anything about the strategy, tactics, plays? Heck no! Again,it’s mostly about developing’characters’ much as in formulafiction.Why? Big audiences are bigsuckers for formula fiction. Besides,formula fiction is the extant’culture’ and early on filters outanything else. Soooooo, right,one means of change is the Internetwhere the old media, formula fiction gate keepers can’t blockall the new content.

          1. Jennifer McFadden

            That may be true of some press, but The Information is subscription-only. They have stated very pointedly that they don’t intend to pursue an ad-based revenue model.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            They will still want revenue and, thus,eyeballs.With a narrow audience they can be freeto provide actual “Information”. My guessis that ‘media’ was “The medium is themessage” and that with the new “medium”of the Internet the media will fragment, that is,break into many small pieces and run into”the long tail”. In part I’m betting that thiswill be is an example: Revenue in anyvery direct sense has next to nothing todo with it. It’s like Fred says: A bar wherehe is the bartender and tosses out topicsfor discussion and the patrons do nearlyall the rest. So, is far out into”the long tail”.Just what the revenue model will be for’the long tail’ is not so clear. You maybe correct that ads won’t cut it.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        As in the old science fiction movie ‘TheThing”, when a ‘good’ journalist does aninterview, if the content from the personbeing interviewed is not ‘good’, then the journalist will “make it good”!

      3. LE

        The risk of a misquote or having words turned on you is wayyyyyyy to high for my tasteOtoh if you don’t throw some scraps to the people with barrels of ink they will turn against you if they ever have the opportunity. Not that they won’t anyway but I think the motivation is much more if you don’t keep your friends close “and your enemies closer”.What is happening to Paul makes more sense than it doesn’t. He’s been getting much press lately and it’s only natural that people are going to look to bring him down a notch. That goes with the territory.The only person I haven’t seen brought down from the pedestal that will be one day (if he doesn’t die first) is Warren Buffet.

    2. LE

      Noting that when PG writes essays they are almost always reviewed by his crew for completeness. I’ve always found that very interesting. Other than academic writing you either don’t get the opportunity to have what you write reviewed by others and you most certainly don’t broadcast that fact if you do.

      1. Semil Shah

        For years, I used to have friends check my posts. I was very nervous to unknowingly say something wrong or dumb. It can happen.

        1. LE

          But so what if you say something wrong or if you say something dumb?Making mistakes is how you learn. We are not talking about flying an airplane where you will crash and burn so you need to take appropriate precautions.Knowing that you might say something wrong (or dumb) makes you think and research more or, if you can’t do that, perhaps you shouldn’t be writing about what you are writing? I have learned plenty along the way by not knowing at all what I was trying to do and not having anyone at all to ask. It helped me to not develop a lazy brain where I just reach for the quick answer from someone else. It takes longer but builds (in my opinion that is) a better skill set. [1]Not the only way but look at what Fred does here on this blog. He says stuff and everybody jumps in and gives their opinion and/or corrects him. Very occasionally someone will even say that what he has said is dumb. It’s actually one of the ways “being real” that you develop an audience. (As long as you are not 60 minutes that is..)I don’t have a particular problem that PG uses people to help and/or proof his essays. I do have a problem though when people say that they like his essays and they are of course not entirely his thoughts or research even with the disclosure. Not because he has “help” but because people put him up on a pedestal. I hate that stuff. I call it pedestalizing.No doubt that if he wrote an essay and said what he said “the shitstorm” he would have been corrected by one of the people who proofs what he said, right?[1] To this day I never discuss a deal while it is going on with anyone. Lest they interrupt my train of thought (and game I am playing) and that way I don’t question what I think I should do. And I find that that works for me. So it’s almost like a superstition at this point just like athletes have lucky shoes.

    3. William Mougayar

      I bet he will respond with a post. I think he did that last time after the ‘foreign accents’ comments.

      1. Semil Shah

        Yes, and I’m sure it will be super thoughtful.

  4. pointsnfigures

    I am not alarmed by the lack of women in entrepreneurship. I don’t see it as a crisis. However, I do believe that it is important for leaders in the entrepreneur community to reach out specifically to women to try and make them aware.Women have different challenges than men-they are the only ones that can have children, and are generally responsible for early child development. That biological fact changes the ultimate career decisions that they make. Perhaps we should show women that entrepreneurship blends better with the dual role of having a family and having a business career?Instead of scalable startups, many women choose to do lifestyle businesses. Again, neither good or bad. What’s important is that women understand there are entrepreneurial opportunities for them out there.There are biases against women in lots of industries. The bro code among hackers scares a lot of women away. Sharon Schreiber of wrote about that in the Chicago Tribune.I have created a hackpad that could become an online resource for women to find ways to engage. http://womensupportnetwork…. Some from the AVC community have added to it.

  5. Kirsten Lambertsen

    A lot of people jumped on his “13 year old” comment, which I didn’t love but didn’t find to be that terrible. This is a *really* complex issue.But, did you know, women used to make up something like 34% or so of computer scientists in the 70’s? That number has gone down dramatically, by more than half (if I’m quoting the numbers right).So unless women are actually evolving to be less inclined towards computer science, it must be a cultural effect. As a girl who was a kid in the 70’s, from my perspective it’s definitely a cultural thing. It’s SO hard to fight the ‘princess’ influence out there with my 4 year old daughter. When I was 4, I wanted to be an astronaut. But the point is that it’s hard to hear, when you’re a female, that ‘these girls just aren’t interested in computers!’Now, something else PG said *did* bug me (if the ValleyWag piece is to be trusted with its quotes): “I’m almost certain that we don’t discriminate against female founders because I would know from looking at the ones we missed.”That one is hard to take. It shows a total lack of understanding of discrimination cause and effect.

    1. pointsnfigures

      The princess effect is hard. I have two daughters (ages 22 and 20). Neither are coders, but the oldest is really scrappy and the youngest is fluent in Chinese and starting to discover statistics and finance. Early in the game. Maybe use jujitsu and show how coding can be “pretty”?

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Watching my girl, I can see she’s a natural maker. That’s all she does all day! So, to your point, I don’t know if it has to be “pretty” but it does have to be relevant to her interests (right now, cats).Frankly, making pink trains and Legos is not the answer 🙂 My kid likes to make things, and we should just start there instead of saying, “but look! Here’s a pink train!” Ha!

        1. awaldstein

          I don’t have daughters but I’ve worked with some immensely successful women entrepreneurs. All were technically sophisticated, none were coders.I’m all about changing the gender bias–seems right.But entrepreneurship is not a club restricted to coders. It helps but its not a prerequisate.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            +100 🙂

        2. Donna Brewington White

          I made a similar comment that it has to relate to interests. I may get booed for this but relationship is key –relationships between people but also between thoughts, ideas, action –> goal, etc.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            No boos from me 🙂

    2. falicon

      What I took that to mean though was that they have not passed on a company with a woman founder/co-founder that has turned out to be a huge success.That’s not really bias, that’s just an unfortunate fact (one of many around this topic actually).What this issue really needs is a unicorn or two to be started/powered by women…and then for those women to turn around and teach/show/educate everyone on how other women can do it.The kids need role models and trail blazers to look up to, learn from, and aspire to, and emulate. Unfort. many of the most powerful women to-date have not done a great job on this front.,..and it’s going to take time to really get there from here…but I believe the world *will* get there…eventually.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Well, let’s say he said “black” instead. “I’m almost certain that we don’t discriminate against /black/ founders because I would know from looking at the ones we missed.”Would you get the problem with that statement?I don’t actually agree with your thoughts about unicorns. I don’t think girls have to have a role model to look up to who’s a successful tech entrepreneur. Is that why you got into computers? Girls just need to be encouraged to follow their interests, to develop their talents. Mommy can do that whether she’s a manicurist or a neuroscientist. And if there’s no Mommy, someone else can do it.Like I said, this is complicated stuff. The more dialogue, the better, though.I think a lot of well-meaning people (including me), need further understanding.

        1. falicon

          Could just be me – but I still wouldn’t see the problem with the statement from the ‘fact’ side of things…the only place where I see it falls apart is on the rare chance that simply by Y-combinator backing something could/would have become a huge success (but I think something that becomes a huge success would likely have done that with or without Y-combinator backing).I’ll admit I’m close to the ‘worst’ person to be talking on this subject as I’m old, white, and male…so take my opinion with a massive grain of salt.But here’s where I get confused…if it’s not about role models then what *is* it about?Role models played a small part in my early interest…because who didn’t grow up in our era without looking at Gates or Woz/Jobs and saying “Wow! Wouldn’t that be great?”…and in my case I was able to say, “hey they weren’t really that different than me – I could do that”. (most of this was on a subconcious level – but still there).But I like to think that it was more my interest in problems and things I thought were ‘cool’ that drove me to explore tech more as a kid…I didn’t spend that much time thinking about if it’s a girl or a boy thing to do, I just thought it was interesting to me…perhaps there was some nuture involved as I was raised mostly by women (… ) and often they would shove their tech. problems on me (but it’s hard to say if that was because I enjoyed it or because they thought it was a *boy* thing).

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            🙂 “… it was more my interest in problems and things I thought were ‘cool’ that drove me to explore tech more as a kid…I didn’t spend that much time thinking about if it’s a girl or a boy thing to do…”There it is. It’s super complicated, Kev. Girls are just sent the message from every corner of their universe every day that they should be pretty, be princesses, and just be. Not do. We parents have to work extra hard to fight that influence.So that’s the women of the future. What about the women of today? I don’t fully agree that funding from YC doesn’t increase a startup’s chances of success. I think it does. (If a startup is *doomed* to fail, then no.)White male privilege is a factor in all areas of business – that’s why most successful businesses are run by white males, not because white males are better at it. So to look at success and failure numbers and say, “well, women aren’t as successful, so we aren’t discriminating” is showing a high level of ignorance of the cause and effect of discrimination.Like I said elsewhere, it’s YC’s money. They can invest it primarily in a certain demographic if they want. Doesn’t mean those outside the demographic have to cheer from the sidelines.

          2. falicon

            I do think the challenge falls greatly to the parents of young girls…hopefully they are showing them that the only limits are those that they place on themselves throughout life.White male privilege has been a problem for about 2,000 or more years now…it’s proving *very* difficult to break.YC might increase a startups chances…but it’s most certainly in the single digit percentage…I’m a complete believer in ‘success finds a way’.I’m not a cheerleader for any investment arm (though I am a personal fan of a few people who are investors)…and I am a cheerleader of anyone trying to start something (regardless of age or gender)…but I don’t think anyone outside of YC should *really* care one way or another what YC actually does…

          3. CJ

            In my experience it’s about role models and interests and having the opportunity and encouragement to follow those interests.

          4. falicon

            Agree. Which is why it’s a bigger problem than just one guy or even one set of parents…it’s a society thing as a whole…and that takes a lot of time, energy, and focus to enact real change within…

          5. CJ

            Totally. Unfortunately I think it’s also a generational change rather than a quick fix.

        2. Sofia Fenichell


      2. leigh

        But maybe none of them got that successful because they couldn’t get funding or the right people to support them a long the way etc. etc. Maybe they weren’t successful BECAUSE they passed on them not because they weren’t the right investment.

        1. falicon

          it’s possible…but I think that would be the case in maybe 1% of what they have passed on…

        2. Anon


      3. Melinda Byerley

        this completely ignores the halo effect of YCombinator on funding.Also, who is to say the best female founders applied, given how many of us believe Paul and by extension YC to be inherently sexist (perhaps unconsciously so) and wouldn’t apply, ever, not in any circumstance?This idea of “well no women we didn’t accept went on to be successful” ignores the concepts of selection bias and confirmation bias so much it boggles the mind. Are they truly that ignorant, or are they willfully blind? And given that women leaders present different “patterns” to be recognized, why won’t Paul allow for the possibility that he is utterly blind to what the pattern is for women? It may not be Mark Zuckerberg with a vagina. In fact, it’s most probably NOT that, at all. So if all PG wants is Mark Zuckerbergs he’ll likely miss anyone who doesn’t fit that extremely narrow criteria.

        1. Cynthia Schames

          Melinda, I agree very much with your comment and implications here.I’m a great example of a female founder who didn’t even bother applying to YC (and never will) . Why? Because I know who they are; I know their thesis; I know what they like.I also know that if someone there said something like “founders with strong accents” or “these women haven’t been hacking for 10 years” around me, I would flip my shit. I simply chose not to surround myself with (or take money from) people who at the very least are tone-deaf. And at the very worst, may actually be as sexist and nationalistic and narrow-minded as their public comments imply.There are other accelerators and investors out there who very clearly do NOT have these issues (biases). I choose to surround myself with people I can respect. Has that cost me opportunity? Yeah, probably. But I’m OK with that. And since I’m actually not a 20-something living on ramen and/or daddy’s money, and I’ve actually done some stuff already in my life, I can afford to keep bootstrapping until we’re profitable. Then I get to go back to these guys (and they are almost entirely guys) and say, “hey, wish you’d tossed in a bit of money? Because, wow, it would be 4X by now…hmm”.

          1. Melinda Byerley

            Living well is always the best revenge. Keep it up.Even though I taught myself BASIC out of a book and spent many nights in our family’s garage (literally!) with that Sinclair ZX-80, coding up trivia games and adventure stories because I had no one else to help me know what to do next; I dropped out of computer science in the mid 80s because there was no one to help me struggle through, no one to help me see what was possible and what could happen if I stuck with it. I felt like I was “stupid.” Didn’t help I was the only, and I do mean ONLY woman in the class. or that I had professors who wouldn’t let me submit papers written on my computer because “it wasn’t fair to anyone who didn’t have a computer.” So I wrote them on the computer and typed them by hand to turn in.I often say about business school that the men who apply are taking the safe route, but the women who apply are very different—by definition we’re doing something rule breaking, hard, inventive and different. It’s the same way as entrepreneurship. We’re still so unusual that you’d think by now someone would give a shit enough to be studying us like bugs under glass.

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          This is what I’ve been trying to say. But you said it so well!

    3. Sofia Fenichell

      i agree with all this. such a complicated issue. And not really a venue for this discussion. I wish we could all connect off line. It’s hard to avoid the ‘princess complex’. But its worth it. Princesses and non princesses alike turn into gorgeous women. Sometimes tomboys the most gorgeous of all. And re the female entrepreneurship comments. my view is water off a ducks back. let’s focus on the positive. its just all so complicated and let’s push forward and try out best and smile…we will get there..

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Love that :-)However, I’m happy to help enlighten Paul, if he’s open to enlightenment.I also think all this dialogue is healthy. The more, the better.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        First of all, Sofia, I am really appreciating your comments in this thread. There is something to the idea of connecting offline. I am not as in the thick of it as some others here (though this is continually changing) but in some ways this helps my perspective. I’m still not sure the right questions are being asked. Which affects the solutions. Maybe I should say ALL the right questions because obviously some great things are being done and I am grateful. But this is a complex and complicated issue as you astutely and persistently remind us.

    4. leigh

      Yes that quote is exceptional self serving and completely misses the point.

    5. Dave Pinsen

      A couple of years ago, Steve Sailer suggested a couple of causes behind the decline in female programmers – the shift to more abstract programming languages and competition from H-1Bs:

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Oh, Dave. It’s always heart warming to see a prejudice defeated by an ever deeper prejudice.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Ever wonder how ways to increase the supply of workers (and, thus, put downward pressure on workers’ wages) are framed as fights against prejudice? http://thelastpsychiatrist….

    6. Florian

      “I’m almost certain that we don’t discriminate against female founders because I would know from looking at the ones we missed.”I interpret it as he doesn’t discriminate* any worse than all the other white men in VC *

      1. sigmaalgebra


    7. laurie kalmanson

      “I’m almost certain that we don’t discriminate against female founders because I would know from looking at the ones we missed.”nope. “no qualified applicants” doesn’t cut it — if they’re not finding you, go out and find themthe etsy story is the canonical example of changing this by doing something about it: “In a less than two-year period, Etsy quintupled the number of women on its engineering staff, and made other gains in the process.”…it’s also starting to change in tech conferences, with people making an effort to go outside their networks and bring more women in: pycon is a great example (i’m speaking at a local event, for a double diversity gain: female and ux)…

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Amen. I mean, I thought as a community, those of us in tech were all interested in making the world a better place, not perpetuating the status quo.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          change the paradigm, etc

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Yes! Changing the ratio is too small a goal.

          2. laurie kalmanson

            change the tween girl is almost grown out of the taking care of animals games, and is not interested in shoot-em-up games, and there’s not much inbetween.

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen


          4. panterosa,

            I’m working hard to change that.

          5. laurie kalmanson


          6. Donna Brewington White

            Change the world. That’s it!

          7. laurie kalmanson

            hooray! coincidentally, had coffee with a friend who did a CS ph.d back in the day, and triumphed over daily and incessant gender hazing from jerks who wanted to keep all the fun toys for their club.

        2. panterosa,

          I love the ladies in this group commenting and the AVC women who I know support all the ratio changing.Band together.

    8. Cam MacRae

      So unless women are actually evolving to be less inclined towards computer science, it must be a cultural effect.This is something I’m very interested in so I’m reasonably up to date with the literature. One persistent line of enquiry examines the link between changes to secondary school curriculum and the precipitous decline in girls taking higher mathematics.There are a number of theories as to what is going on.One suggests that most students will avoid higher mathematics given the choice to pursue other interests. The princess effect, peer effects, etc. all contribute here.Another posits a feedback loop in which girls encounter an out of area math teacher early in their academic career, decide they’re incapable, study biology etc. instead, discover at university that without a background in higher mathematics they are uniquely unsuited to modern biology etc., retrain as teachers, and because of their science backgrounds end up as out of area math teachers.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Really interesting stuff, Cam. Thank you for sharing it. I keep saying this is a complex issue. This indicates that is even more complex than I could imagine.

  6. ShanaC

    I think the approach is wrong. Many women in tech come to it later (including my mother….) which would mean successful female founders are older.As it is, it would make more sense to invest in over 40s in general -there is research showing that basically the image of young successful founder is rare while older is actually common.

    1. falicon

      I don’t think age or gender should really play that much of a role one way or another…it should be mostly about opportunity and execution.Remember, on the internet no one knows your a dog. It should *really* be this way for tech. and business in general…create value and you should *win*.

      1. leigh

        The opportunity issue is the one that is problematic. I had a startup with two women founders (my CTO was a woman and myself). There are already so many barriers to getting funding, that adding to it (and trust me, being two female co-founders definitely added to it) isn’t something that I would personally ever do again.

        1. falicon

          Yes that *sucks* big time…and def. needs to change (though I have no idea as it feels a bit like a catch-22 at the moment).

          1. leigh

            My solution was to not even bother with the funding. Best decision I’ve ever made.

          2. falicon

            Yes! If you can make it work that way, it’s *always* better…and hopefully down the road, you’ll inspire others to follow your lead…or at least help to make them aware that it *is* possible…

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Pioneers have a hard job. Thank you.

      2. ShanaC

        But should is a very different statement than is. Normative versus positive. Changing Normative is hard work

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Great comments today, Shana. Thanks.

        2. JamesHRH

          Changing human nature is not possible.See comment above.

          1. ShanaC

            You get into how much of this is human nature discussion. Factually speaking, both men and women are close to the median of the curve, and as a species we have much less pronounced sexual dimorphism in a lot of ways compared to say, peacocks.

          2. JamesHRH

            I am going to pull rank, which is unfair but sorry ;-)Anyone who is a parent and is engaged with their kids, without fail, agrees that there is a clear nature difference between the genders.Its not a universal thing, its an 80/20 thing.Here is my favourite anecdote on this nature issue.I am coaching my daughter in U6 soccer. All the kids go to school together, The school has a Euro influence, soccer is huge there. All season, the boys and girls want to play in gender pure lines (all girl, all boys). We say no until the last game of the season and then we give in. We send out the boys, first.Its 3on3 on a small field, so there is goals aplenty. The boys are waaaay better than the other team and during their shift, they outscore the other team 7-2. All 3 boys take turns dribbling the ball forward and trying to score (very little team play @ that level, passes are not accidental but only when absolutely required). Nobody plays much defence in the sense of stopping the progress of the other team. They all try to steal the ball, in order to go score more goals. Lots of celebrations post-goal (man, I hate that in minor sports).The girls go out and defend the other team’s kick in (no throw ins in U6) to the point that the other team can’t get the ball into play. More than once. When they get the ball, they stand around. No urge to score. When they finally score (after much encouragement to do so) I ask the scorer how it felt to score a goal.”Didn’t feel anything” she says.Peacocks aren’t like that, I bet.

          3. 209670938609387

            Abstract problems are abstract. It’s not science or limitations that are causing the disconnect. We are.

      3. JimHirshfield

        You’re a dog? A female dog?

        1. falicon

          maybe…or maybe I’m “a drop of golden sun”…

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen


          2. CJ

            Well played.

          3. JimHirshfield

            You’re a unicorn.

          4. JimHirshfield

            Nice. Embrace your inner unicorn.

          5. pointsnfigures

            It farts rainbows?

          6. William Mougayar

            Pink Unicorn! That sure beats Purple Cow.

          7. panterosa,

            Right on!

          8. Donna Brewington White

            This made me happy.

        2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          I know he is a coder … for sure a damn good coder.

    2. Sofia Fenichell

      I think this is a genius comment. Women often get into entrepreneurship at a later stage in life for a variety of reasons: improved self confidence, the ability to apply intuition they have had all their career towards problem solving at a larger more entrepreneurial scale, or life circumstances. Generation X is becoming more productive post the recession and not less.As a mother, my view on getting young girls interested in coding is that it is possible and we are doing a lot at the schools level. But I am less interested in this. I don’t thing the solution to women in technology lies in coding. I think technology entrepreneurship today is much broader than just coding and I don’t understand as a woman why people think its about coding. I don’t code and I am the CEO of a tech company. Nor do most women CEO’s we know today. To say coding is the solution is very narrow. It is just one very important input in the technology equation. We are about to embark on an era where women can thrive because they are doing things they love and not because they are being told to ‘code’. Maybe some of us really don’t find it interesting?Re wishing more women walked into VCs with an idea, plan etc. This is a complicated subject.

      1. Dale Allyn

        I’m glad you made this comment, Sofia. As the father of a brilliant young woman, I was thinking very much the same. And my “non-technical” wife gets more done in a day than any man I know.

        1. Sofia Fenichell

          I bet she does Dale! To all, Dale and Phil, great article on the Paul graham interview by Charlie O Donnell with this quote…The biggest question I think VC’s face right now is whether or not, in the future, the best founders will look and act like the best founders of the past. Will they come from the same places as today’s industry leaders, or from the far corners of the earth and from underrepresented groups? The world is getting flatter than ever before and the white American male is exerting less and less influence over it each day.But we love our guys too. It doesnt have to be a debate about gender. It’s about character and taking action as Phil says.Happy new year all…

        2. sigmaalgebra

          YMMV, but In many ways men have little hope of competing with woman. My experience wasthat in emotional, psychological, social, and verbaldevelopment, ability to focus and be disciplined,insight into and ability to please others, abilityto get along without sleep, clerical accuracy, much of artistic development and manual dexterity,’presentation of self before’ others (E. Goffman),girls commonly effortlessly, totally blow away theboys.And my experience was that in working with things,e.g., cars, computers, shop tools, basic electricity,and the STEM fields, boys effortlessly blow awaythe girls.”Fools give you reasons. Wise men never try.”.

          1. 209670938609387

            If what you say is true, then we’re just trying to speed up progression to the inevitable.And perhaps it’s time for men not to get into a field because their friends are doing it, or because it’s cool at the time for men to be a part of it, but because they genuinely care about it to begin with. The same that should be expected of women entering tech: implementing hiring quotas isn’t going to solve the issue, it has to be done at K-12 schools across the country.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            > And perhaps it’s time for men not to get into a field because their friends are doing it, or because it’s cool at the time for men to be a part of it, or because it’s cool at the time for men to be a part of itMen should never do such a thing.> because their friends are doing it,That’s something girls are MUCH more likely todo as a special case of girls wanting too much tobe members of groups, typically mostly other girls. Girls are nearly desperate to be membersof groups. Girls very much act like herd animals.From all I can see, I don’t think that coding is agood career for anyone so far. Indeed, at present,sure anyone under 30 who is a “full stack developer”can get a job. Alas, likely that job does not pay enough in salary to buy a house, or qualify for amortgage, and support a family (with a stay athome mom). And in Silicon Valley, they might beable to buy a fixer-upper a two hour drive from theoffice.Generally there are a lot of houses owned, freeand clear, by plumbers, electricians, family restaurant owners, car salesmen, etc. that acoder can’t afford to buy.Then past age 40, or even 30, they are likely nearlyunemployable in ‘coding’.So, before they are 30, they have to rush to get equity, as a founder of a successful startup.A plumber or electrician has a much better careerpath, e.g., can work and have good earningsas long as they can do the work.As a career, coding sucks. That’s partly whyIT investors want to get women, poor people,and immigrants into ‘coding’ but not pay enoughto support a family. Right out of college myfather bought a house and supported a family;he never had any trouble paying for a house andsupporting a family.The situation on family formation in the US totallysucks; it’s so bad that we are going extinct, literally.At present, from all I can see, the main careeropportunity in the US is owning a smallbusiness supplying a need that won’t go away,that is still needed when the economy gets sick,and with a geographical barrier to entry, e.g.,plumbing. Coding? You GOTTA be kidding!Same for ‘computer science’.Of course, if can do a successful startup andhave FU money for life, fine. But A16Z saysthat there are only about 15 projects a yearthat deserve a Series A round.As a career in any ordinary sense, coding sucks.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          My daughter is much more suited to become a CEO than her three brothers and she is the one least interested in coding or what coding can do. However, she is interested in languages so I approach it from that angle — as part of her linguistic repertoire. My youngest son is so typical — he wants to create games so there is the hook. He and my daughter are always coming up with product ideas. Maybe they will team up someday.

          1. Dale Allyn

            Learning languages is incredibly valuable in business and life. Not just for the obvious communication advantages, but cultural understandings and nuances, as well the mental acuity it can contribute to (like exercise for the brain). Having a team comprised of people with different personality traits, strengths and insights can be invaluable in any endeavor. When each member of a team can humbly recognize strengths in the other team members, and learn to leverage those strengths, the team can achieve great things.

          2. JamesHRH

            I think teaching you CEO in waiting daughter to code is an absolute waste of her time and talents.She is interested in languages because people speak languages.My engineer wife always says about ‘the math’: I do not want to know why it is the way it is, I want to know that it is valid and then I want to know what it can do for me.’That’s a CEO’s approach to technical issues.

          3. marketingthemuse

            But ur engineer wife learned enough math to become an engineer…I think that’s one of the issues here—learning the basics so girls can build.Coding is basic.

          4. JamesHRH

            I have posted on this topic before: coding is not basic.Industrial revolution, few people learned to make iron but everyone benefited.Petroleum revolution, few people learned to refine oil but everyone benefited.Information revolution, few people learned to code but everyone benefited.Just not a true statement.

          5. marketingthemuse

            if you want to create and manage ur own blog, it sure is basic.

          6. marketingthemuse

            Apples and oranges comparison–if you don’t learn coding, you must depend on -& pay-others to do it for you. Maybe that’s why it isn’t basic to you-maybe ur one of the one’s who we pay…until we learn basic coding.

          7. marketingthemuse

            smart mama…:)

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks. AVC has made me a lot smarter.

          9. 209670938609387

            Even if girls end up not pursuing programming when they head off to College and choose another major, information literacy is crucial to many fields and knowing it could make it far easier to become a CEO: gaining insights on statistics and data that elude most people would make her more useful in any industry.Granted, not every programmer is a business major nor intends to be one.

      2. Tony Wright

        A technical background is a pretty meaningful weapon in the world of startups/entrepreneurship. Certainly there are exceptions. I’m one too– I’ve been a CEO of a tech company with my handy Psychology degree. But if you’re looking for solutions it’s probably more constructive to look at data than anecdotes. Coding isn’t the only thing we should be looking at, but we should certainly be investing there. Here’s an interesting quote from Paul Graham:”If you work your way down the Forbes 400 making an x next to the name of each person with an MBA, you’ll learn something important about business school. After Warren Buffett, you don’t hit another MBA till number 22, Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike. There are only 5 MBAs in the top 50. What you notice in the Forbes 400 are a lot of people with technical backgrounds. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, Gordon Moore. The rulers of the technology business tend to come from technology, not business. So if you want to invest two years in something that will help you succeed in business, the evidence suggests you’d do better to learn how to hack than get an MBA. [3]”.From:

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Nice PG quote. Elegant — just make thoselittle x marks and count! Great point! Shootsin the gut the claims that an MBA is great fora career in really big business, and I used tobe an MBA prof. One of the best PG quotesI’ve seen.

          1. LE

            So if you want to invest two years in something that will help you succeed in business, the evidence suggests you’d do better to learn how to hack than get an MBA.Well of course where there is smoke there is fire. But I would take exception (knowing of and knowing about many people who have “success in business” meaning they have one form or another of what is known as “fuck you” money and freedom) that trying to draw a conclusion from that list simply doesn’t make sense. It’s a limited list. Anyway these guys that I speak of have more in terms of life than any guy who is a slave at a corporation at any level. They probably do have less media smoke being blown up their you know what though.PG got hatched into the business world around the time of the Internet. I don’t know if he ever operated so much as a lemonade stand (defacto lame thing parents think is good for kids, jeesh). Prior to that he was really about math and programming afaik. (Please correct me if I am wrong). If he was thinking about business growing up in Pittsburgh I have never read that.Consequently he actually has little experience in general business other than the world that he operates in. And as a result he really has little exposure to the many ways (that are not F5000, corporate or VC,angel, startup lottery based) as far as how people earn their livings. And what that living allows them to do. He only knows what he knows. About as much as I know about academia or sports (very little).That said oddly enough I do agree with the MBA generalization in the sense that when I went to business school the undergrads were about business and the MBA’s hatched later in life after getting some liberal arts or other non business UG degree. As far as “learn to hack” as being the choice other than an MBA I think the inaccuracy of that is obvious.You most certainly don’t need an MBA to make money in business. You don’t even need an UG degree from an IVY League. Although it does help greatly with opening doors and confidence for sure. And women like it as well as do their parents. So that counts for something right there.Curious (as a prof) what your experience was with that.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            The list with the x marks makes a solid but quite narrow point: Ifthe goal is to be the CEO of acompany at the top for the list,then a technical background ismuch more promising than an MBA.But it doesn’t follow that on averagetwo years of hacking is more valuable for a career than an MBA.And as a former MBA prof, I’d saythat, on average, an MBA would bemore valuable. Indeed, it maybe that on average an MBA ismore valuable than most STEMdegrees, including a Ph.D. Where a STEM degree mightbeat an MBA? Maybe petrochemicalengineering or geology for petroleumjust now.If want to do an information technologystartup, then I’d suggest some general business exposure (e,g,,friends with FU money and in a yachtclub) and coding experience. I’dalso suggest, but it’s now a longshot I and only a few others arebetting on now, a good backgroundin math, hopefully a good UG majorin pure math and a Ph.D. in somethingin applied math, maybe in an engineeringschool. BTW, given some codingskills, I’d prefer the math degrees toCS degrees.But, still, even in the world of IT startups,an MBA can do well in, say, marketing,CFO, COO, and, later with some VC andBoard support, CEO. And for jumpingfrom a successful startup to a VC fund,apparently an MBA is helpful. Why?My guess is that at least half of thework of a VC is raising the funds fromthe LPs and that they typically have and like MBAs. Likely many early stageor angel investors would like to seean MBA as a co-founder.From all I can see, an MBA degreemostly indicates a little exposure toa little that is relevant to business(e.g., touch on statistics, accounting,business law, organizationalbehavior; do homework with Excel and Word or some such;get some possibly importantwork discipline), some networkcontacts, and some interest inbusiness. Maybe the case methodpounds in that decisions can bemore solid than learned as, say,an English major but less solid thanlearned as a STEM major; an English major might make decisionstoo quickly and a STEM major,too slowly.In spite of James Simons, it appearsthat Wall Street likes MBAs andCS majors more than Ph.D.mathematicians.What the mathematicians need toshow the world are more longyachts. Back to ti!

          3. Peter Renshaw

            “Prior to that he was really about math and programming afaik. (Please correct me if I am wrong).”…history, design & fine Art (Florence) cf

          4. Jeremy Dunck

            That quote is pure Texas Sharpshooter fallacy. I have a point to make. How can I illustrate it. Oh, here’s a way.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            Hypothesis: For a career at the top of aFortune 500 company, and MBA is important.Data: Count the fraction of MBA CEOs inthe Fortune 50 and the fraction of CEOswith technical backgrounds but no MBA.Test: Compare the two fractions. E.g.,claim that the MBA fraction should be largerthan the technical fraction. Reject by, say,Monte Carlo: Assume the two fractionsare equal and do a Monte Carlo experimentto see the probability of getting a differenceas large or larger than observed in the data.Then see at what significance level canreject the ‘null’ hypothesis of equality.Not a fallacy.

          6. Jeremy Dunck

            The claimed result is “So if you want to invest two years in something that will help you succeed in business, the evidence suggests you’d do better to learn how to hack than get an MBA.”It’s quite a stretch to suppose that the Forbes top whatever is a good stand-in for “succeed in business”.

          7. sigmaalgebra

            I agree. I should have been more clear inmy “great for a career in really big business”and said “great for a CEO slot in really bigbusiness.”.Or as I said below,> The list with the x marks makes a solid but quite narrow point: Ifthe goal is to be the CEO of acompany at the top for the list,then a technical background ismuch more promising than an MBA.Likely PG was making the mistakeyou pointed with “quite a stretch”.But PG is not the only person inIT finance to claim that US IT needsmany, many more programmers fromgirls, lower income groups, foreigncountries, etc. Besides, as I mentionedelsewhere on this thread, PG is funto read, and with so much fun why worry about if what he is writing actuallymakes sense? What makes more sense, TV news, the NYT? Not to me!AVC and HN, often. More? With over100 million blogs out there, there shouldbe much more!Gee, if we don’t do something about thesevere programmer shortage, then some of the programmers will be ableto afford actually to buy houses andsupport families, maybe even withincommuting distance of Silicon Valley,especially of Google has a big houseboat floating off shore!I expect that so far it’s still the case thata Ph.D. in electrical engineering shouldgive up his degree for an electrician’slicense. And a programmer withouta really promising startup idea mightbe better off starting a grass mowingservice, especially in Silicon Valley,build to supervising 10 teams, andthen expand into commercial landscaping.Then he can have a job for as long ashe can do the work while the programmerwill too soon be like a lot of programmersover 40, looking to stock shelves atWal-Mart. But he should flip burgersat McD’s because if work up to manageingone, have a shot at growing to manageseveral which can be a darned goodcareer.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Great comment, thank you. I do wonder if timing and the age/stage of the tech industries had something to do with this occurrence.

        3. Jennifer McFadden

          By that logic, you should also get a sex change if you’re a woman because you don’t hit a single female (outside of inherited wealth) until you get to Abigail Johnson (who, although she got a leg up from her grandfather and father, has arguably done an outstanding job on her own) at #23.In fact, inherited wealth is a great way to get to the top of the list–whether you’re a woman or a man.The interesting thing about the Paul G. post that you reference is that he actually only looks at the top 50–not the entire list. And, if you take a look at the top 50 there is a pretty big diversity of backgrounds and industries, most of which are non-technical–including retail (Waltons, Meijer), media (Bloomberg, Cox Chambers, Murdoch, Newhouse), finance (Buffet, Soros, Dalio, Cohen, Perelman), Oil & Gas (Kinder, Hamm) and candy–because everyone loves candy 🙂 So, the analysis falls short.It takes a diversity of interests and backgrounds to create successful companies (or any companies, for that matter). Technology, as it turns out, is not the only driver of wealth and growth. It is an important one, no doubt. But it is not the only one.

        4. Sofia Fenichell

          Some valid points but the data you present is but one snapshot in time. Data analytics and coding are not the same thing nor do they require the same skillset. More importantly, the future will be different. Entrepreneurs will spring from different corners of society to solve relevant problems of our time. Relevance changes with time and experience. It’s not about coding. It’s about solving problems using the tools at our disposal be they code, data, design, business model etc.

      3. sigmaalgebra

        > I don’t understand as a woman why people think its about coding.Because the coding is much of the core and the bottleneck inthe practical economics of information technology (IT) startups.That is, the users can’t use the work until the coding is done.And mostly investors won’t consider the project for fundingbefore the coding is done and they can see the softwarerun. I.e., nearly all the VCs, and apparently essentiallyall of their limited partners (LPs), see the ‘work’ as essentiallyjust some intuitive ‘business idea’ plus a lot of routinecoding. Why? Because such VCs and LPs have nearlyno background in projects in advanced ITe.g., as for US national security. E.g., I can 100% assureyou that GPS has a lot of software, but the funding of thefirst version, for the US Navy, was based on some derivationsin physics and before the software and with the hard/softwareregarded as ‘routine’, which they were.For a startup without funding, getting the coding done byhiring ‘developers’ on the open market, say, in competitionwith big companies where IT is crucial, is darned expensive.So, the cheap, practical way to get the coding done is tohave the founder(s) do it themselves. Then, in addition,the startup, which will continue to need more and morecoding, expensive coding, will be run by founder(s) whodo necessarily understand the required coding largely orin total and, thus, have an advantage in practical hiringand management.E.g., at Microsoft, Bill Gates wrotecode, indeed, coded the FAT file system in a hotel roomor on a plane or some such. Zuckerberg did the firstcoding for Facebook. Page and Brin wrote C++ codeon Linux for the early versions of Google.Oops, FATabbreviates ‘file availability table’. The good news is that it did work well on the early PCs. Much better newsis that it brought to the world the idea of an hierarchicalfile system, likely mostly from Multics (you deserve agold star, Bill, for the coding, including an hierarchicalfile system, and knowing at least a little about Multics,Unix, Prime’s Primos, DEC’s VMS, etc.).The bad newsis that FAT was very limiting as hard disk sizes went from5 million bytes to 4 trillion bytes. More bad news is thatWindows missed out on the astounding potential ofaccess control lists (ACLs) for the hierarchical file system forsolving the pervasive, debilitating computer security problems, i.e., a good ‘sandbox’ or a cheap ‘virtual machine’. Yes, Windows has ACLs,but some of the implementation and much of the exploitationare poor.

      4. edloessi

        Agreed Sofia, there is so much more to delivering great technology, there is UI/UX, product management (project management), product marketing etc. etc. UI and UX require creativity and product management and product marketing require project management and creative skills, things which women do extremely well at and should be encouraged to view as vital to success in the technology field. These areas also are important first hires in start-ups and represent solid growth paths in larger tech companies. Coding is good if you are building complex things and it is good if you are truly starting up 1-3 people trying to get idea built and the first customer, but very quickly successful companies become about other things and career and growth paths are found all along that process.

    3. PhilipSugar

      As an older founder, I would say that it is easier to do it first when you are young.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        When were you most fearless? For me it is now.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Different kind of fearless. One is where you don’t even know what might happen. The other is when you do and you don’t care. What do they say? Ignorance is bliss? But on the other hand it is nice not being ignorant

        2. JamesHRH

          That’s a great question.Phil is right in that most men are fearless out of ignorance and you are right that most women are fearless based on the confidence that comes from competence / accomplishment.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            You know, James, I wasn’t thinking of it as a male/female thing but what you describe is definitely along the lines of why I, personally, am at a new level of fearlessness. This does not mean throwing caution to the wind, but a recognition that I have come through situations and overcome obstacles that I would have never imagined nor in some instances wanted and that there are probably still others ahead. I don’t feel invincible, just unafraid.

          2. JamesHRH

            That is an invigorating post.Remember, Invincible is one Tequila stage short of Invisible, so you don’t really want to go there 😉

        3. Nick Ambrose

          I (male) was most fearless when I was 22, single and renting an apartment. Now I am going on for double that age, have a wife, two mortgages and possibly kids on the way and I need to be a lot more careful …That may be different than for women (or other groups of people) though…..

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Your wife is probably grateful for this. My poor husband. Being married to me has stretched him. But it has also worked to his advantage.I don’t think that fearless has to mean reckless. As a woman who has equal responsibility for income generation for my family and to some extent more given the potential of my work — and at one point was temporarily sole income earner – I have made very pragmatic choices at times. Having four kids doesn’t always allow for pursuing my personal dreams. But the older I get I no longer feel the luxury of time on my side so there is a sense of now or never motivating me.You mention “other groups” and I do believe that my race combined with gender and growing up in a racist environment in the Midwest during a certain era contributed to my mindset. I didn’t like the prescribed choices for someone like me and had to make a decision to chart a new course at a very young age. Fear was not an option.

          2. Nick Ambrose

            Yes, all valid points, and in case it wasn’t clear I was not implying anything negative in the “other groups of people” comment.We are here now, with me as the primary earner as we moved to an area where sadly my wife just cannot earn the salary she could in Los Angeles at the same job.When I was in my 20’s I was definitely in Philip Sugars category of “No idea what might happen but it sounds interesting” and did that a number of times.Now, I still have the chance to take a few risks as the software industry is “hot” enough that I feel confident that even if a particular move/choice didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be in too bad a shape.I can also definitely see women (and maybe also men) who’s kids are grown and out of the house being able to take certain risks they wouldn’t when they had people directly dependent on them.For me, I am actually not sure how much “wiser” I am with age, but maybe I now know enough to ask the “right” (or at least better) questions before making a plunge.It’s definitely an interesting and complex topic probably w/out any concrete answers I guess.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Nick, two thoughts and hope I am not coming off as a would-be sage here. But why live if you don’t learn and have something to share as a result … (1) I think that knowing the right questions to ask is the greater part of wisdom so yes you are wiser and (2) one of the most helpful concepts I ever learned was to think of life in terms of seasons.

          4. Nick Ambrose

            Yeah, I agree. I did think I was wiser and then got into a “Startup hall of shame 101” type situation just a couple of years ago (long long story) which I thought I would never do.Then managed to get hooked up with … lets say a less than honest so-called “founder” who just wanted me to work for free. Thankfully I cut that one off far earlier than the prior one so who knows … maybe I am slowly learning!

    4. sigmaalgebra

      There you go again, Shana! We’re havinga guys’ locker room BS session here, andthere you go bringing some good sense intothe content! This just shows again one of thereally big problems with — nobeer!

    5. Anne Libby

      This goes back to Tereza Nemessanyi’s point about the XX Combinator:…The YC model doesn’t work for many mid-career entrepreneurs. I have no beef with that.The question is, what does, and who wants to make it happen?

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Very. Important. Question.But remember that discussion? Think of how much has changed even since then in the tone of the discussion. At least here. And AVC leads. Progress.

        1. Anne Libby

          I went back and re-read that post and discussion, and, hmmm. It was the post that first got me really reading/engaging here, so I’m not sure what the tone was like here before then.I feel good about discussions like this one, and the knowledge that many of us are also acting, together and separately. And that so many are trying to really deeply listen. Yay!And yet, so much work still to be done. In some ways the feeling of what hasn’t changed from the 80s to today — exhausting.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            It may be my own perspective. Back then there seemed to be less acceptance and acknowledgement that there was a problem. It felt more antagonistic. But if I went back and reread the comment thread from my current vantage point it may seem different. I know the voices better. I’ve heard the various perspectives many times since then.

    6. Brandon Burns

      “there is research showing that basically the image of young successful founder is rare while older is actually common.”the young founder is rare in real life, but “common” in the tech world. as such, that’s what the VC pattern recognition patterns are modeled after.people see the patterns they want to see.

    7. Donna Brewington White

      This seems like such an obvious solution. But it requires overcoming bias and status quo (or the perception thereof) and this is always uphill. A steep hill.

    8. Lora Kolodny

      I think it’s important to focus on both the experienced professional or just generally adult woman, along with the young women. But your point is interesting and well-taken. (Just want to be careful it’s not one or the other, but both young and old who need training and a non-hostile environment where they can get opportunities to try, and learn to program.)

      1. Jennifer McFadden

        Totally agree.

    9. rick gregory

      Agreed. The issue for me with PG’s comments is that he completely discounts anyone who wasn’t coding in their early teens as if starting at 18, 19, or god forbid *20* completely invalidates that person’s ability to start a meaningful company. Now, if his comments are really just about what YC looks for, fine. But the quotes seem to indicate that he feels this is what startups in general (and investors) look for and that strikes me as dangerous. After all, the person who only starts coding seriously in late HS or college will still have been coding for 10 years when she’s in her late 20s or early 30s. Are we really going to say to bright people with good ideas “No, sorry, 30 is just OLD and you missed your chance in life”?What that does right now is to artificially restrict the pool of people he considers founder material to, for the most part, middle/upper middle class white males since it’s those people who by and large start coding young. Note that this is a selection criterion that’s also biased against less economically fortunate kids.However i don’t feel sorry for him – he’s clearly stated what he looks for and it’s revealed a fairly narrow set of criteria. That might be because of YC’s particular focus (founders that start quick, are able to get product out the door fast and work for basically nothing while doing that). If other populations can successfully found and grow companies though that means there are opportunities for other investors.

    10. Gabe da Silveira

      Absolutely true that older founders are more successful, however I think there’s a huge media bias to focus on founders. No one wants to be an employee anymore. These days angel money is so easy, and the economy is so bad that ever-increasing numbers of people are becoming founders instead of employees. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but you also have to look at the work to be done in tech.While there are a lot of non-technical skills like market analysis, advertising, PR, business development, hiring, and industry-specific knowledge that can make a founder very successful. But the problem is that in tech you need a product, and the majority of early work to be done in tech startups is building the product. Having more women founders is great, but it won’t solve the problem of gender balance in tech by itself.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I am excited by the idea of founding teams and encouraging those with entrepeneurial drive to become part of that team. Not everyone who is an entrepreneur needs to be the lone visionary founder as romantic a notion as that is.

    11. awaldstein

      Great comment Shana.I’m all about founders at every stage of life. I’m also a believer that every founder needs to be tech savvy. I’m not a believer that curriculum to teach anyone to code post 40 is pragmatic though.

    12. fredwilson

      it can’t be wrong but I get your point that it may not be sufficient

      1. ShanaC


      2. JamesHRH

        This topic is close to completely bogus.Women in engineering schools – <20%…Women in law school – 45%.…Women in med school – 48%.…Oh, and the big 3 disciplines for women in engineering? Environmental, biosciences and geological.50 years ago each of these professions were male dominated. Now only one is. That has to tell you something.Great women can do lots of great things. Some great women are technical.Just not very many.

        1. panterosa,

          That’s due to early childhood ed. Can be more gender neutral, more STEM/STEAM friendly, and better content. That’s what will change those numbers.

    13. JamesHRH

      Its obvious that ‘getting more girls to code’ is pushing a rope.Most humans do not liking SW coding. Or, now that we are thinking about, technical work in general. All of us love what it can do for us; maybe 1/8 of us are interested enough to make it our life’s work (in some way); but only a very small fraction of us are technical workers.Fred doesn’t code – regularly, as his life’s work – and he did OK.And, regardless, why is everyone so freaked by the idea that most technically oriented introverts are male? It appears to be human nature.Most scifi writers are male. Most jazz musicians are male. Most occupations that require you to spend a lot of time on your own, inside your own little world, are dominated by men. So what?I get that some goobers treat technically oriented women poorly and this should be eradicated. That’s a no brainer.If you are technical, you should be encouraged. The world needs you, regardless of gender, creed or colour.But I don’t get how PG stating the obvious is news.

      1. chernevik

        The “so what” is this causal chain: 10K hours -> mastery -> leadership -> status. It’s an inequality driver. I’m prepared to accept that, to the extent it emerges spontaneously, but it’s surely worth inspecting the linkages and entry points for sense, right?Learning to code requires intense, almost monomaniacal focus in part because you have to figure out so much for yourself. A lot of that is guesswork, a lot of those initial guesses are wrong, and it takes a lot of perseverance to punch through that phase to the place where you “get it”.Wouldn’t it be better if code were better documented and learning materials better written? Wouldn’t that lower the bar for everybody, and make for a more computer literate population? Wouldn’t that population be more economically productive, and more politically alert to the significance (and not-significance) of the various changes happening around them?I would imagine such a shift would lead to a lot more demographically diverse group learning code. Now it might not help equality — the monomanical types might just take the better instruction as a better starting point and push on ahead of every one else. But if we assume diminishing returns to study, we’d expect the gap to close. And our best coders would be that much better. And our whole population would be better prepared.So that’s at least one pathway that strikes me as at least potentially a win for everybody. Except maybe for the poor bastards expected to write more clearly about code.

        1. JamesHRH

          I don’t buy the romanticized mono-manicial coding bit.Coding is an intellectual pursuit. The best coder in my CS classes (and my lab partner works @ GOOG now) was a math genius who was never around. He showed up in the lab the night before projects were due, typed in his code, compiled it, fixed the typos and that was it.He doesn’t code today either – it did not interest him.I don’t think the world would be a better place if everybody coded.That is my point.

          1. 209670938609387

            I agree that everybody doesn’t need to be a programmer.But I still think that everyone needs to be exposed to programming at a basic grade to do it just once. Not to turn out millions of CS majors, but for the same reasoning as learning Calculus in High School — the discipline and the capacity to handle a complex problem is critical to approaching information at advanced levels of management. Something that today’s CEO’s have a difficulty grasping even with metaphors and models to explain all the complexity away.

          2. JamesHRH

            I totally agree, but that is not the thrust of this post.The thrust of this post is the vilification of PG for suggesting that he likes nerd-ball code jockeys as founders and that he has no idea how to turn teenage girls into nerd-ball code jockeys.

          3. 209670938609387

            I don’t have an answer, but I can define part of the problem: Men aren’t generally welcome to discuss the issue to society because we’re the benefactors of the situation who know nothing of their cause. Irony: only women can specifically explain why women generally avoid the technology industry, even if they can’t express why for whatever reason (e.g.: “I don’t know, it just never clicked for me”.)Racism and Sexism are not the same, but they have similarities: It’s like someone who is white and male trying to explain how they are hiring equal opportunity jobs when there’s no minorities interested in taking the work (for whatever the reason: rural town, no applicants, industry-wide issues). Speaking from that position still makes you appear racist to the general public, no matter how you try do it. White people don’t understand what it’s like to be black, period. In less severity, men can never understand women. (Well, irreversible surgery, different wardrobe choices, and a lifetime of social resistance based on the fact that one wasn’t born that way can educate a man quickly, but that’s rather drastic concerning the issue.)I’m not saying this is what happened to PG specifically, but to help explain why it’s difficult for men to discuss the problem: while it makes little sense logically, in general society doesn’t want to hear it from us. (But society is a faceless monster that never works on logic or reason… like you said below concerning Human Nature.)

      2. budanski

        these social engineering experiments where more women or minorities are pushed into fields they weren’t interested in the first place just makes me cynical. Then again, society tends to push women and minorities into everything whereas the white males are treated as society’s bastards.

        1. 209670938609387

          Not so much bastards, I don’t see society emphasizing that white men need to be proactively removed from all industry and commercial enterprises all at once exactly.But to a degree, you’re right: white men are certainly seen as no longer worthy of praise or recognition because it’s expected that white males are fine all on their own. The problem with that presumption is the same as the Dred Scott era: if expectations cross generations, they become more and more dangerous as a situation changes.White men are too numerous and too oppressive to society now. But what happens in 30-60 years with a burgeoning latin and black rise in population when white males become the minority yet the expectation still persists that white men are not welcome concerning racial equality, even as few as they are left in the world? At what point is the definition changed from white men to simply “men” in general, if not today?

    14. Gustavo Melo

      While this may be true, it should not invalidate the point that there may be social walls blocking young girls from becoming interested and being nurtured into tech in middle / high school. This is an education funnel for which we are all optimizing, and efforts to increase the number of qualified people getting into it can only help.

  7. bijan

    I went to a Girls Who Code event last month in SF. I met a number of the young women who went through the program and was so moved that lauren and I made the single largest donation we have made to date. Such an important issue.

    1. Richard

      Awesome. Here is another approach. Steve Jobs once said that if you want an amazing product, get people who are amazing and teach them to code. Here in LA there is the Fashion Institure of Desisign and Merchandizing. Fund a Python Chair and teach these talented girls how to act on their talents.

  8. Jamyn

    As a father of two young girls, I care particularly about this. I coded, aged 6 on a ZX81 and later BBC, Commodore 64, Amstrad etc up to sending myself on week long JavaScript and Objective C courses recently. I want the same excitement and interest in tech for my girls. So, I ordered the Kano and have shown them the Hour of Code app, even though they are a bit young. All starts with exposure. One thing for sure, they prefer robots, logic games and chess – but all offered as a suite of options alongside dolls etc, so I’m not forcing them one way or another – so mission accomplished so far! 🙂

  9. Jamyn

    Another thing – separate to my work with Dash, I teach MBAs at NYU Stern, as an Adjunct Prof of marketing. My class over-indexes on women, which I don’t think is atypical at MBA marketing courses. One homework exercise I make them do is a JavaScript course on Codecademy. I do it to expose them to the language and syntax of the tech it takes to execute digital campaigns. Most cringe at the assignment, but I’m always hugely satisfied at the response by end of semester, when many proactively follow on with additional Codecademy exercises, because they have caught the bug. Granted, many students want to kill me after their 8th hour of coding, but at least they will have learned what goes on under the covers, and will have an earned respect for what engineers do – at my former (corporate) job, I found one of the biggest pitfalls to a project was a fundamental lack of understanding between tech and non-tech groups, WRT to what the former does.

    1. ShanaC

      See – I’d hate you becuase of the javascript part, not the coding part :p

    2. LE

      “One homework exercise I make them do is a JavaScript course on Codecademy.”I think that’s a mistake judging not only by what I know about that but also where you say “Granted, many students want to kill me after their 8th hour of coding”.I think you could achieve the goal of “I do it to expose them to the language and syntax of the tech” by having them learn something much simpler. Like shell scripting or beginning php. You know where you can start out and perhaps just learn to do a CRUD database with a web interface or even just a CGI form (old school for sure). Just to get a feel for what goes on somewhat.I don’t think they need to be subjected to javascript at codecademy if it is repulsing them so much. If you want to get someone hooked on something or exposed to it start out with something basic and easier to pick up and produced something of value.

      1. Jamyn

        Yeah, I think that’s a very fair point. I may just have them do the hour of code app next time. I am iterating the approach every semester to optimize, as I absolutely don’t want to turn them off. As they are MBAs, I try to draw an analogy with Excel Modelling, in terms of formulae, logic, structures, outcomes etc. But I appreciate the counsel, thank you!

        1. LE

          Looks like you are driving a mini convertible in your avatar?. I had a manual 6 speed Cooper S convertible a few years ago. A totally fun car I loved that and I sold it for close to what I bought it for. More fun than the Porsche. (Really..)

          1. Jamyn

            Ha, it’s not a Mini Convertible (tho I drove that and loved it, despite my 6’2″ frame). This was an Audi Convertible we used for a photoshoot for the Dash demo video – see more here –

  10. Mike Zamansky

    The number Fred cites emphasize how important exposure can be but it’s also important that it be the right exposure along with a path to the “next steps.”We’ve got a lot of add on programs and some are very good, but I’ve also seen: – kids who got really excited, but the program dumbed things down or painted an inaccurate picture of what was to come – I had to try to rescue these kids. My daughter, in fact was one of these (now majoring in CS). – kids who were turned off by dumbing things down (again, I’ve had to try to rescue these kids). – programs with no exit strategy to the next level – the kids don’t learn anything well enough to proceed on their own.I’ve seen kids at my school that have been in a variety of out of school programs. Some certainly benefited but in many cases, the benefit was minimal, nil, or worse.This is why we need total exposure (and the right exposure) in the schools.One of the things I’m proudest of is that I was able to hack a required CS class into my school (and it’s a pretty unique class). Prior our numbers matched the national norms (20% women in AP CS). Now, we typically have about 30% young ladies in our AP CS classes. Last year, my post AP Software Development class was 37% women – and that’s in a school with only 40% girls.So, it can be done but it’s: – the right introductory exposure delivered by the right teachers in the right culture – follow ups that take the kid from exposure to the next level – in my case either college or the work force.I’m hoping that I can get my summer program off the ground this year so we can bring some of the successes I’ve had at my school to more kids.

    1. fredwilson

      i hope i can help with that Mike

  11. Cynthia Schames

    Fred, you’re the polar opposite of so many others. You put words into real action. You care. You work tirelessly for the benefit of the ecosystem. And you know your words matter.Thank you.

  12. Chris O'Donnell

    My daughter would be a damn good coder or software engineer. She taught herself Python via the MIT online course, and she frequently helped her brother with his freshman programming class from college. She has always had that innate curiosity about how things work that I believe often drives an engineer of any stripe. That said, when she heads off to college next fall she will be majoring in animal science with an emphasis in genetics, so at least it’s the ‘S” from STEM!I wish had the magic formula to help other young women get interested in STEM, but I don’t, beyond making sure the opportunity is there and that as a parent you provide whatever resources you can to support her interests, even if don’t really understand it yourself. Trust me, I know nothing about animal science or genetics!

  13. PhilipSugar

    You are making it happen. That is why I commend your efforts. As I have said before I think it is a role model issue. That is why it perpetuates. People look up to people that look like them. (Hopefully Mother’s and Father’s). Its good to push like you have done in this and chess.The media is the media and I don’t trust what they say (that’s too bad). They can take you out of context or just be plain snarky, like they were about the hour of code.

    1. Sofia Fenichell

      I agree “you make it happen’. But it has nothing to do with coding. The issue of women in careers “lean in’ if you will, goes beyond coding. And entrepreneurship is bigger than coding. Some of my best hires have been great writers. It’s about ‘making it happen’ not about coding. Coding is making ‘one important thing happen’. I say this with a daughter who is very good at maths and sciences but that’s not the point. It’s bigger than coding.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Very much agree. But no of us has infinite time and resources. So you pick your cause. For me its not coding it is about the art and science of business. Love pushing that agenda.Its bigger than coding, its bigger than funding, its way bigger than all of that, but the way I see it, it is better for me (or Fred if I can speak for him) to push my pet project rather than sit and do nothing.So pick chess for example. Push that agenda. People will say there are so many more priorities than teaching kids chess. You know who those “people” are??? The ones that sit and complain and don’t do shit.

  14. theora jane

    I know you mean well, Fred, and that you put your money were your word is.That being said rejecting even a rare one-off event of criticism as an undesirable “shitstorm” is also a sign that a lot more work needs to be done on that front as well.Many more shitstorms are needed so that things actually change.Silencing shitstorms is the job of gatekeepers who don’t want to see the fictitious perfection of their self-image stained by just demands.It almost feels like a tribe that is tone deaf and unwilling to listen.Or do you believe that a certain tribe is more deserving of carrots only and never a stick? More shitstorms, please. And keep up with the good work.

  15. Brandon Burns

    “We see very few women entrepreneurs walk into USV and that is disappointing to me.”I have no clue who gets a meeting with USV or any other investor and who doesn’t, but I’m willing to bet that if we were to take two pools — those who had meetings with the investor and the larger pool of those who tried to get in — that the ratio of women to men (or minority to non-minority) is not the same across the two. In fact, I’d bet that the investors are weeding out women and minorities before they even get into their offices.Pattern recognition teaches investors to respond to a certain type of person. It goes beyond the external. Investors respond to people who introduce themselves in a certain way, carry themselves a certain way, say certain things, don’t say other things — investors are looking for people who are like other successful people they know, and those people have specific traits and common threads; thus, folks with different traits are weeded out. These traits can come out (and be discarded by the investor) in a mere email, just in the way someone says “hi,” before the investor even meet the person face-to-face.The problem with this is that everyone is different, and not everyone is “in” enough to know the lay of the land. There’s the Fred Wilson style of pitch deck, Paul Graham likes YC application videos that flow a specific way, Bryce Roberts has written about how to conduct yourself in a meeting — but the thing they all forget is that there are successful people who do things differently from them. But pattern recognition tells the investors to reject people who present themselves in anyway that deviates from the standards they’ve set. That is the problem.The only way to fix the problem is for investors to make a conscious effort to ignore their expectations for how they expect people to present themselves. If someone sends an investor an email pitching a company, it may sound awful but actually be the next Google — but they’ll miss it if the founder is a woman and/or minority who has a different way of expressing themselves. So instead of dismissing, ask a guiding question. If you’re looking for a detail that isn’t there, ask for it. If you’re looking for the info to be presented in a different way, ask for it. Let that person know that you’re not on the same wavelength, and then make an effort to get in sync with that someone who probably thinks very differently from you.

    1. JimHirshfield

      OK, valid points. But your reasoning also supports the case for identifying losing entrepreneurs. You’re effectively asking investors to fund companies against their better judgment. I’m not referring to racial or gender profiling. But the other criteria you mention.

      1. Brandon Burns

        Its an unfortunate Catch 22. But the current way of filtering isn’t working, so it needs to change. And if that means investors need to take more meetings with more losers to learn how to adjust their filters, then so be it. Change hurts sometimes, even if its good for you.This harkens back to the convo a couple weeks about about content / talent in hollywood vs. tech. When you look at the word of entertainment, from actors to directors to writers to assistants, every gender and race under the rainbow is represented. When you look at tech, that’s far from the case. The root cause is that tech people haven’t learned how to look for and evaluate diverse talent pools. They keep seeking out people like themselves. And even when they say they’d like to become more diverse, I don’t see much action backing up those words.

        1. falicon

          Who isn’t it working for? As far as I can tell, the majority of people involved are still getting rich(er).A revolution only happens once the masses hit a tipping point and force it…crowd funding *is* the start of one of those revolutions…but it’s too early to tell if it’s really going to overthrow the powers that be (and by the time we know for sure, it will be too late for the current guard anyway).

          1. Brandon Burns

            “As far as I can tell, the majority of people involved are still getting rich(er).”For now.According to Charlie O’Donnell’s self-reported numbers, he has pulled a better return than Paul Graham, and did so with his portfolio being 50% female founded, and with only 50% of founders being developers (YC is probably 5% women founders with 95% developer founders). http://www.thisisgoingtobeb…Sure its one anecdote, but if Charlie’s numbers are accurate, and if like-minded investors are charting similar paths on the sidelines, the rich who are getting richer are going to look different in the not too distant future.

          2. falicon

            I read Charlie’s piece earlier today too…and I generally love Charlie’s opinions…but I think he’s comparing apples to oranges in that post.My point is that the existing guard don’t really need to push change…they are doing fine for themselves. But people breaking into the world absolutely have a chance to attack them on the ‘thinking differently’ realm…so I agree with you 100% there.Also overall – I actually agree with you that things *should* change. I just don’t think there’s as much motivation for the current players to push change…it’s going to have to come from ‘new’ and ‘hungry’ players if it’s going to come…

          3. Brandon Burns

            All true.

          4. LE

            “that the existing guard don’t really need to push change”Exactly. Or as my mom used to say “the teacher already has their degree”.Or to bring the intellectual level in the room down a bit to quote from “Boogie Nights” That’s a YP not an MP. [1][1] “[Your|my] Problem”

        2. Drew Meyers

          Most people who are successful…tend to try to do more of what currently works, and less of what doesn’t. So hard to get people to change their habits to something that will likely be a less efficient use of their time with greater risk.Not saying people shouldn’t change. Just saying it’s not simple to get someone (ANYONE, regardless of who they are or what they do) to change their existing habits.

    2. Adam Quinton

      I agree and would add that, in my experience at least, entrepreneurs practice fact based pattern recognition too. In that they look at things like the make up of the investor firm (so partners say) and who has been funded in the past by that firm and make judgements about that. ie if they don’t have people “like me” on their team and they haven’t funded many “people like me” in the past … then most likely the odds of me getting a meeting never mind getting funded are lower than might otherwise be the case. And they make decisions about which doors they walk into as a result.It is easy to suffer death by anecdote on this issue so good to see some stats … note for example the NVCA/DeSantis Breindel Brand Gap survey results wrt female founders:www.desantisbreindel/com/big-venture-capital/

      1. Melinda Byerley

        This, Adam. This. nail on head. great stats, too.

    3. ShanaC

      As an odd note: dealflow is often not directly controlled by the VCs. This second person may be where the blockage is at.

      1. Brandon Burns

        Who has more control of the dealflow that the VCs (partners + employees) themselves?

        1. ShanaC

          the person making the introductions but doesn’t invest

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I’m beginning to believe that the answer doesn’t lie within the existing power structure. We outsiders are going to have to make our own.

      1. ShanaC

        i would say you already exist in the power structure, and that we should read more foucault

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I have my assignment! 😉

      2. Brandon Burns

        I’ve reached a point where I’m pretty much forced to raise money for I’m actively looking for non-tech sources of capital. They’re extremely hard to find; not saying they don’t exist, but there’s not only just so much capital in the tech community, but its organized and easier to “figure out.”I don’t want to bite the hand that will most likely feed me, but if I could manage to raise capital and operate my company completely outside of the tech startup ecosystem, I’d be a happy camper. As “outside” I can be, the better.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Raising capital is hard. Its super hard for a well connected, Ivy League white guy that has done it four times before. This is the only thing that bothers me is when people say its super hard, and it must be for some other reason that it is super hard.

          1. Brandon Burns

            I haven’t done it, so I won’t report on how hard it is.But common sense says that while it may be hard for an Ivy League white guy that has done it four times before, it’s exponentially harder for anyone non-Ivy, non-white, non-guy, and non-repeat entrepreneur — and if you’re unlucky enough to have multiple of those undesirable traits, you may have a better chance of winning the lottery.The “woe is me, the 1%” defense is hardly a good one.

          2. PhilipSugar

            I don’t have the woe is me. Look at my blog. I revel in the fact.

          3. LE

            Actually it’s better for the outlier the way it is. If life and the system was more fair there would be a larger number of people vying for things as well. As in “word is out you now qualify the line forms here”.I actually prefer systems that are harder and closed. That way when I put in the effort I can differentiate myself and stand out. The minute something becomes more fair I feel as if I lose an advantage. I’m serious.Otoh there may very well be a realistic disconnect between what someone (you?) can achieve. Like the women who is dating over their head. Keep trying but maybe you are not doing the right thing to begin with. Personally I prefer not focusing on 1 in a million opportunities.After all this thread by Phil started with “hard for an Ivy League guy who has done it 4 times” it’s not like he said “I had it easy as an Ivy League guy”. So what if it’s even harder if you are not?That said even if it was easy for an “Ivy League White guy” so what? It’s not like getting into the Ivy League is just a coin toss. It does take effort and working your ass off. As far as those who were born into money and got in that way (or whose parents attended) life is not always fair. My dad was short and bald but we made the most of it. Would have been nice if he looked like Michael Douglas.

          4. awaldstein

            Super Hard…so true.I did it for years in the valley.Do it now to help companies I work with.What I know to be true, serial winners aside, you can get the meeting, you can hone your pitch, but a juicy idea and proof points through prototype, or pedigree, traction win the day.

          5. LE

            Behaviorally I think one thing that screws people up is the fact that they see people getting money that don’t appear to be so special in a way that lets’ you know “wow they deserved it”. Zuckerberg looks and acts like a million guys I have run into over time. Some of the guys that have made it are people I wouldn’t have hired for any job because of the way they shout “slacker”.If you go back to the “high school system” you fully understood why the big guy was the football star, the tall guy was the basketball star, and the smart kid who aced everything and studied all the time was going to be a doctor. Nobody had as much problem with that because they weren’t even able to get into that game. Fred liked sports but I’m sure he never ever expected (other than when he was 12 maybe) to be a basketball player. And it didn’t bother him that others did that. And he wasn’t jealous. You tend to be jealous when you feel someone doesn’t deserve something and maybe you could be that person.But similar to the music and entertainment industry we have people in tech who seem and appear to be “just like us” and I think that breeds more people going for the brass ring and getting disappointed..Assuming that you are talking about yourself (re: four times before) I think the bias there is probably a combination of age and “the evil you know”. In other words an investor can somehow take a young person who has done absolutely nothing and think they can make a big score with that person rather than someone who has achieved some success (but not huge success). That said older people do get funded but not for the same type of fly by night ideas that young people get funded for. So I think the way they and their ideas are evaluated is much different.

          6. Brandon Burns

            “Behaviorally I think one thing that screws people up is the fact that they see people getting money that don’t appear to be so special in a way that lets’ you know “wow they deserved it.””I think what screws people up more is seeing different-looking people who they feel deserve “it” not get “it.”

          7. LE

            That’s a bit like looking at a pretty girl though and wondering why she isn’t married because she seems soooo attractive.You know the reason she isn’t married?Assuming there isn’t some “third eye” floating around somewhere that you can identify by looking at her, the reason she isn’t married is because there is a disconnect between what she can get and what she thinks she deserves. So she will pass on many marriage proposals and suitors because she thinks they are not good enough. Looking for the bigger and better deal. While other women who are less attractive get married, snapped up and are happy right away. So it’s about expectations.Now of course in other parts of life this doesn’t happen. People, when shopping for real estate and/or cars more or less know exactly what they can get with their “assets”, right? You don’t find many sane people spending and wasting time going to neighborhoods that are 50% more expensive than they can afford. They know how to set the search to have the desired living quarters given their budget.

          8. Brandon Burns

            so someone who’s not white and male with the other typical startup traits doesn’t have the right “assets” and therefore doesn’t “deserve” the funding needed to build their business?

          9. LE

            Pick realistic goals given the way the world operates at a particular point in time. You are not going to change the way the system works in order to get the opportunity that you want.In the 70’s there was a TV show about a doctor who went to medical school and was blind. [1] I mean anything is possible, right? But is is practical and probable?[1]… although it may have been another show rather than this. Google doesn’t seem to be able to find it.

          10. Donna Brewington White

            Pick realistic goals given the way the world operates at a particular point in time.That’s a less stressful life, but not necessarily a more meaningful one. Not necessarily one that will change things for the next generation. But we are all here on this earth for different reasons and purposes.Long before I knew I was not that realistic type of person, others knew it for me. They let me know I didn’t fit in before I figured it out for myself. I suppose I should be grateful.

          11. Drew Meyers

            “But we are all here on this earth for different reasons and purposes.”Yup, I run into this again and again. I know I’m wired differently than many. Impact is what I optimize for.

          12. Donna Brewington White

            I know I’m wired differently than many.I think that embracing this is critical.That is one thing I am trying to help my kids realize and feel good about.

          13. Drew Meyers

            Fortunately, I’m more self aware than the average person 🙂

          14. Donna Brewington White

            Why are you more self aware?

          15. Drew Meyers

            Not exactly sure.Part of it is certainly that I’ve traveled extensively all over the world, much of that time solo. I think introverts naturally have a leg up in self awareness because extroverts are always out talking to people rather than thinking and analyzing their own situations.

          16. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Drew. Just wondered. Self-awareness is so priceless and not always easily come by.

          17. Brandon Burns

            pre-1920, there was a “disconnect” between what women could get and what they believe they deserved. the 19th amendment changed that, and gave them the right to vote.pre-1964, there was a “disconnect” between what minorities could get and what they believed they deserved. the civil rights act changed that, and gave them equal protection under the law.and thank goodness it did. had the rationale that there’s good reason whenever there’s a disconnect between what people want and what they can get, we’d live in a really fucked up society.i’d pick a different analogy, buddy!

          18. LE

            You’re talking about fighting social injustice and I’m talking about saving your energy and doing what is good for you based on the way the world is at a particular point in time. Make the best of it. Re-read the boldThese are two different things.If I spent all my time thinking and fighting for “the cause” I wouldn’t be able to pay for healthcare and a place to live. [1]Not that people haven’t made a living out of fighting for these things (Al Sharpton comes to mind) but it’s not a strategy that will typically pay off (financially) for a person personally, right? On a personal level you look out for yourself and your family and keep your nose to the grindstone.[1] I would guess that Fred, in his early years, did not focus much on anything but being a good investor and making money so he could live and work in NYC. Or gotham gal would have booted his ass out! While it would have been entirely possible that he could have also been focused on many things that he cares about today I somehow don’t feel that is the case.

          19. Brandon Burns

            “Not that people haven’t made a living out of fighting for these things but it’s not a strategy that will typically pay off (financially) for a person personally, right?”Unfortunately, since I don’t fit the mold, I don’t have much of a choice but to fight for these things if I want to build my company. According to startup status quo, my “assets” only “deserve” a job working for someone else in a different industry.

          20. LE

            Hey I’ve done ok I guess and I’ve never had to convince anyone to give me money [1] other than customers that give me money because I give them something they want.But then again I’ve set realistic goals and don’t go for pie in the sky dreams.Separately my dad came to this country as an immigrant holocaust (concentration camp survivor who lost his family) with $0, worked hard and was able to lead a good middle class life. And he was short and bald and not taken very seriously not speaking the language. But he worked hard (bla bla bla) went to night school and started a company while working a 2nd job. And he dealt with bias against jews (in the 40’s and 50’s) on the way “up” if you want to call it that.In any case I don’t think that you only have two choices. “work for someone else” or “follow the dream”. There is an in between state. It is well known I believe that the jews built hollywood because they were not accepted by wasp culture and corporations. So they built their own empire.[1] Last time I had to borrow was a few years after graduating college with either a leasing payment or bank loan or something like that.

          21. Donna Brewington White

            Or maybe she is waiting for someone to see her as she really is and not the preconceived notions that her looks evoke.No one wants to spend their lives living up to an illusion.

          22. LE

            Possible but I don’t think you can separate what someone becomes and how they act from how they look. Women who are very attractive (and men) get treated differently than women who are not. I mean I even get treated differently if I wear a suit to the local convenience store vs. dungarees. Or drive a different car. Or wear particular clothes.I think there is also the tendency for a good looking woman (or man) to get away with much more because they are good looking. Things they wouldn’t be able to get away with without that “smile” or attractive face. As a result what they expect in a relationship will be formed by that as well.Looks go a long way in changing how people treat people on both sides. (No studies that I will cite to back this up but I know it is true..) While it would be nice if looks didn’t matter they do. And cause people to put up with much more bs than they would if the looks weren’t there. And it’s on both sides men and women.The reason I single out women is that women traditionally have to be chosen instead of being the chooser.I could also make an argument as far as well qualified men playing the field and not particularly needing to settle down. They “wolf around” because they can. And because there is a big stream of women waiting and willing to put up with the way they are treated by those men. I was never lucky enough to be one of those men so of course I treat women that I am with much better! Because they are harder to replace if I lost them.

          23. Donna Brewington White

            You’re funny.

          24. Donna Brewington White

            Yes, I agree. But imagine how much harder it can be for someone who has even greater hurdles to overcome. What amazing life-changing, world-changing opportunities are laying dormant out there because the wrong person has the idea?

        2. Jennifer McFadden

          As someone who has recently decamped from a largely NYC-based existence to coastal CT, I’m beginning to think that there is life–and a good life–outside of the tech ecosystem :)Site’s great, btw.

        3. Cynthia Schames

          @Brandon_Burns:disqus I was waiting for you to say the word. I have someone for you to meet. He will like you and vice versa. Email me.

      3. CJ

        I agree but when you build it they will come. Look at hip-hop, it was built outside of the establishment and as soon as it proved successful, BAM, here come the guys who passed earlier looking to exploit it.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I’m SO glad you rang in with this, because that’s what I’ve suspected. But I am not schooled enough on hip-hop history to speak to it. Thank you!

        2. Drew Meyers

          unfortunately, every industry gets exploited if there is the potential to make $$



    5. PhilipSugar

      I’ll be controversial: “I’d bet that the investors are weeding out women and minorities before they even get into their offices.”I think its just the opposite, and I admittedly base it on a small sample set, but its easier for my wife to get a meeting than me if you knew the gender.Paul Graham gets in trouble because he says what he likes: people that were coding at 13. Ok, that is his point of view. It has merit if you are hiring developers. I will agree I have never truly found a great developer who was not coding at 13.I was building businesses at 13, there are many examples of entrepreneurs that are similar to me.He is saying he doesn’t care to solve that problem and you will see below that I think you pick your problem and work on it. But I would agree you have to solve that problem.Also he does come off as arrogant as when he said you are not a startup unless you are growing at 10% a week, which I thought was totally stupid.

      1. LE

        Not a PG fanboy by any stretch but the part where he said “they would have found it” really resonated.I was building businesses at 13, there are many examples of entrepreneurs that are similar to me.I remember at my Bar Mitzvah knowing intuitively to go around to each table and make eye contact and small talk (and I was shy at the time) with all the people attending in order to maximize the gift that they would give me.In addition, from my experience at Wharton (which you also attended) I remember very distinctly at the time the difference between classmates who grew up around business and were “hustling” at an early age and those that didn’t. The ones who were doing it at an early age (for whatever reason) had a seat of the pants feel for concepts.The ones that didn’t typically came from non business families or had parents as professionals. There were of course exceptions. This is anecdotal and not scientific. But I stand by my observations. Your gut (like Paul is saying) goes a long way. I don’t question my gut it works for me.Further, at Wharton Graduate (MBA – I was at Wharton Undergrad) I remember very distinctly that people that were there “to learn business” had these liberal arts majors as undergraduates and didn’t have the seat of the pants feel for what I considered “business” (not judging that I am right as much as stating my opinion). I will agree I have never truly found a great developer who was not coding at 13.There are cases where you want to leave no stone unturned [1] and cases where you need a shortcut in making a decision. I’ve always jumped to conclusions about things and in general over time and on average my conclusions save me time and get me to where I want to go. If time is short and you need to triage don’t reinvent the wheel and take the shortcuts.[1] I am “famous” for leaving no stone unturned with inquires about domain names that I own. Most of my competitors blow off anything that doesn’t look and act like a duck. But with even seemingly bogus email inquiries it only takes a minute for me (fast typist) to hit reply and ask a question to make sure so I almost always put in the effort. Because the payoff is big. (This is the reasons VC’s take so many meetings as it is, right?) In other cases I will cut corners if I perceive that the payoff is not big. It all depends on the circumstances. An example of this is someone who contacted me to try and sell me a domain and I ended up selling him instead.

        1. CJ

          Experience is the best teacher.

        2. Cynthia Schames

          Yet another thing that bugs me about PG’s quote is that WHO SAYS A FOUNDER HAS TO BE A “TRULY GREAT DEVELOPER”?Who gives a shit, really, past the very earliest MVP stages?There’s so very much more to creating and sustaining a successful business than being able to write gorgeous code. In fact, arguably, the ‘softer’ skills are vastly more important when you actually care about building a profitable, scalable business model (vs. a sexy app).

          1. LE

            People are biased, everyone is, to what they feel comfortable with and have a soft spot towards.PG is a programmer at heart so that is what he relates to. Fred has invested in many music companies because he likes music. I’m still listening to the same things from years ago it’s not important to me. Further I just don’t get it. I don’t care it’s that simple.PG (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere) and I have to stress that this is a guess based upon what I have read – hasn’t had any experience in the traditional business world of SMB of which there is vast wealth. From what I can tell (once again what I’ve read) he never operated a traditional business. And the thing that launched him (viaweb bought by Yahoo) was near death (as characterized by his words ) and would have failed had they not been bought by yahoo. And the majority of the world cares about lisp about as much as they care about Rc model helicopters (my hobby). Which is to say they don’t at all.Consequently his view on the business world is based on his experience in business and makes total sense.Anyway the reason you need to be a “really good developer” for what he supports is the same reason that you need to be a “really good jack of all trades” when starting a traditional business. Because you need to put in untold hours and be fast on the uptake with everything. You can’t come close to affording to pay people to do things for you. You have to do it all and do it all very well and learn very quickly. At least if you are not using other people’s money.The thing I think that Paul might not think about is the vast quantity of people in business who aren’t making their money in the thing that he knows about. The startup lottery where most people fail and that’s after he’s weaned the list a bit with his partners. Those people would (and I mean this to be funny not out of disrespect) would literally eat his lunch in the general business world.

          2. JamesHRH

            he is looking for technically driven unicorns, so he says they have to code and the statement is valid.

    6. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      I love it when a entrepreneur gets so f…ing frustrated …. either he was following money or a VC… 🙂

    7. Melinda Byerley

      this. this. so much this. nothing will change until VCs stop with the quasi pseudo science of pattern recognition.

    8. Donna Brewington White

      I see this same dynamic in hiring. I recently read a book entitled The Rare Find that challenges this mindset in hiring. I am forever changed. Yet, I sill have to meet my clients where they are.What you are describing is a level of awareness that most of us have to work hard to get to and to surround ourselves with people and mechanisms that challenge us, to live for feedback. Not everyone is willing to work that hard. Not if they don’t have to.

  16. LIAD

    Skimmed the interview couple of times. Couldn’t find the part where he was sexist etc. he gave a pensive and honest answer to a question. Shame on others for scandalising.

    1. Cynthia Schames

      Easy to miss it when you’re lacking a vagina.

  17. leigh

    I sometimes think we also teach our kids what we know and what we are good at. I taught both my kids how to swim by the age of two because i was a swimmer. My 5 yr old has only been on skates once (and we are Canadian for goodness sake) mostly bc i hate skating. I think with so few women in the older generation who are coders, we have fewer role models, fewer moms teaching their kids how to hack. I’m optimistic it will get better eventually.

    1. ShanaC

      we definitely bring our cultural biases into raising kids (ant big kids)I also don’t think we’ve fully solved out what it means to be a woman or man, which makes this issue harder

  18. christinelu

    I think more dads involved in their daughters lives early on in regards to this stuff is a good start. My son is 8 and has been taking robotics class since age 6 here in LA. I love that there are girls the same age in his class also learning. The dads of these little girls work in the tech sector. Every Saturday they take their daughters to class. So while everyone as VCs, founders and educators wonder how they can get more young women in tech, have a look at home if you have a daughter and ask yourselves if you’ve had an influence in exposing them at a young age to all the possibilities out there for them in the future. We need more parents starting their daughters early on a path and giving them a choice between Lego Mindstorms or a Barbie.

  19. William Mougayar

    A couple of points that might help-1) There needs to be more women in tech or women tech entrepreneurs as bloggers2) Who are the tech “poster girls” that young girls can look up to as role models? The last major one I remember was Kim Polese.

    1. Brandon Burns

      I’d have to check, but half of the TechCrunch writers appear to be women. And, save for one or two (including Jordan Crook, who I think rocks), they mostly report the same dribble and exert the same group-think notions as the rest of their team with Y chromosomes.Specifically (and I hope she reads this) I’m thoroughly disappointed in Leena Rao’s “reporting.” She’s doing a lot more video work, so her profile has been raised, but she asks the most benign interview questions and doesn’t push for good content. And, worst of all, she refuses to challenge any of her interviewees or anything she reports on. I expect an indian woman with such a high profile at the most widespread tech blog to use her influence to make headway for women and minorities in the press. And I know its possible, because Jordan Crook has done a lot to forward female and LGBT causes via TechCrunch. But what’s up with Leena and the rest of the women / minorities there? They’ve drunken so much startup status quo kool-aid its absolutely ridiculous. Its a shame.Either way, there are plenty of women bloggers in the space. What’s needed is something to get them to step up their game.



        1. William Mougayar

          DOERS that are also BLOGGERS is what I’m implying, of course. If you’re doing great stuff in the dark, no one will know. Better to let others see what you’re doing under the light of your blog 🙂

        2. Drew Meyers

          Yes. More doers, not bloggers, would be awesome.

      2. Melinda Byerley

        The bloggers are NOT developers or founders. Not once has techcrunch, or any other pub for that matter approached me to write columns about my thoughts, despite more than 10 years as a women in this industry. I’ve blogged publicly for more than 6 years now. There is extensive data that shows men’s comments are shared mor publicly than women’s. The Best response I get is when one of my high profile male mentors makes it a point to push out what I say, to mark it as “important.” Each time one of them does it, the traffic the posts gets skyrockets. I don’t have any other explanation for it other than that.

        1. Karen Morgan

          Ouch, that sucks pretty badly.

          1. Melinda Byerley

            Yep. Thank you for acknowledging me. In all the years I’ve been commenting on this blog, it’s rare to get a reply, so again, thank you. My thoughts as described above are the result of my experience with being ignored by people on social media; and they’re why I wrote this post on social media gerrymandering—to encourage us all, even myself, to keep amplifying new voices. Even I as a white woman have influence to share and I want to make sure new voices are heard.

          2. Drew Meyers

            Certainly part of the issue is that I (and likely many others) don’t know how to find who the interesting women are in tech in the first place.

          3. Melinda Byerley

            Start with one interesting woman and see who she follows. See who Fred Follows. Who Gotham Gal Follows. Who I follow. Take a chance, Twitter makes it easy. do some googling. With all due respect, I think you’re better at this than you might think, and saying “don’t know how to find” comes off more than a bit lazy.

          4. Drew Meyers

            who i follow activity is entirely organic. rarely, if ever, do i set aside a block of time to go find specific types of people to follow on social media. In fact, I don’t really want more people in my feed at all, I want fewer. the best way to get women more exposure is to make it as simple as physically possible for people to find & engage w/ them.all i’m saying is that more discovery mechanisms would be great

          5. Drew Meyers

            Thx, point taken. There are certainly ways to find them for those seeking them out specifically.”The Best response I get is when one of my high profile male mentors makes it a point to push out what I say, to mark it as “important.””Makes total sense to me. I pay close attention to specific people I know/trust and put much more weight on what they tweet/say than random people I don’t know anything about.

          6. Melinda Byerley

            We all pay closer attention to those we already know and trust. The likelihood that you know and trust more men than women is high; the likelihood that I know and trust more white people than black is also high. The point is to seek out new people to expand our point of view. So if someone you know and trust retweets a woman you don’t know, make it a point to go check her stream out, or retweet her idea if it resonates. reply to her and say great job. Twitter makes it very low risk to do so. I’ve found it tremendously helpful for expanding not only my mind, but my network.

      3. William Mougayar

        Good point that there’s also the segment of women tech writers that can play an increasing role in promoting this issue.But what is clearly lacking, or not visible enough are the women founders with higher blogging profiles that become role models. Lots of young boys can be inspired by Zuckerberg, David Karp, et al; but you’d be hard pressed to name high profile women in tech personalities that are currently role models. Maybe they are there, but without a high profile. So, what I’m saying is tha you also need top-down leadership, in addition to the bottoms-up programs that Fred has mentioned.

  20. thomasknoll

    Elizabeth Yin, my previous batch mate in 500 Startups (Dave and Christine are leaders in discovering female entrepreneurs) and current colleague in VegasTech (where we have a strong density of female entrepreneurs and VCs) wrote a great response:…And here is a preview to hopefully inspire you to click through and read her full response:”Learning how to program is already hard enough without having to deal with the snarkiness, uncollaborative teams, and bro-ness of the current learning environments. If you want more girls to get into programming, you either have to teach them to have a much much thicker skin and arm them with a billion reasons to be motivated to learn to code OR you have to fix the learning environments we have today.”

  21. Danielle Newnham

    Great article Fred – as you say, it is always far better to address the issues and try and find solutions. I am currently writing a book about female founders in tech so will address some of the current concerns with the women I interview and see if, together, we can suggest some actionable solutions.


      ONE CLAW UP.

  22. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    girls who code?? wtf?60% of the coders in here are girls …what is your problem fred?

  23. Martin

    I work at a research university and the single biggest problem is that programming (and other engineering fields) do not demonstrate their social role. At 13, boys are sorting out ‘what do I do’, where girls are sorting out ‘where do I fit in’. If the utility of programming is Windows and iTunes and World of Warcraft, then it’s a tough sell to girls – turning profits for some corporation is not where they see themselves fitting in. If the utility of programming is helping people – assistive services for people with disabilities, or educational software, or even things like, that’s a social role that they can better identify with at that age. So more Gates Foundation and less Microsoft.That tech is highly entrepreneurial cuts both ways. The independence is appealing but tech journalism and mainstream journalism about tech is almost exclusively about marketshare, profitability, or how technology is ruining some conventional notion of society. It routinely misses the benefits of being able to solve your own problems and having the power to solve the problems of others. Look at what 13 year old girls aspire to – solving the problems of others is a big part of it, but it’s a very small part of how we talk about tech.

    1. Drew Meyers

      “The independence is appealing but tech journalism and mainstream journalism about tech is almost exclusively about marketshare, profitability, or how technology is ruining some conventional notion of society. It routinely misses the benefits of being able to solve your own problems and having the power to solve the problems of others.”Sucks. I hate the seemingly endless cycle of negativity, which is, unfortunately, what people pay attention to in the media.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Welcome to some quite good understanding of human females, from about 18 months on.”Saving the world” is one of the big themes.As I wrote elsewhere on this thread, so is”membership in a group”. So, right, the girlswant to “fit in”, that is, get their securityfrom praise, acceptance, and approval frommembership in a group. Or, look at the promofrom the old TV ‘The Babysitters Club’ with thegirls walking all together, all laughing and smiling the same way, as a herd, with eachgirl trying to be closer to the center than all theothers. To borrows from ‘Jurassic Park’, “Theydo form herds”. Well, mostly boys don’t. Boysare free to look for what to “do” largely independentof what some group thinks.As some recent research has explained, right fromthe crib, girls are interested in people, and boys,things. As they grow, girls quickly become grandmasters at pleasing others, eliciting positive emotionsfrom supportive, protective men, e.g., fathers anduncles, and understanding and manipulating theemotions of others, especially males. Meanwhile,boys are working on how to build a computer tocontrol a drone to upload video from a camera theyhid in the woods in the neighborhood.Fromm: “Men and women deserve equal respectas persons but are not the same.” And, WesternCivilization got the idea that men and women shouldbe as equal as possible in all respects from the French Revolution where any difference was seenas a symptom of tyranny. The French Revolutionoverdid it and, in particular, in the name of ‘equality’have a lot of women taking a really big step down intodisaster. Or, from C. Nadelson, “Traditional marriageis about offspring, security, and care taking”. Forwomen, getting away from that tradition is dangerous.Back to Fromm, after “membership in groups”, the girls will seek “love of spouse”. If we cankeep down the Betty Friedan sabotage of theUS family, then you can count on that.Coding? For women? A high priority? You’veGOT to be kidding!

  24. jason wright

    can i be a nanny?

  25. Raj

    I think Paul Graham meant to say this: “We need to figure out how to get girls interested in computers at an earlier age. I think we would see more women startup founders as a result, but I’m not the expert on how to get this done.”I don’t think anyone would disagree with the sentiment, but his choice of words seemed a little bombastic and was just enough to set people off.



      1. LE

        How true. To which I will add that a statement everyone disagrees with stated by a nobody also will start zero conversations.

      2. Raj


  26. johndodds

    Fred, I think you might be interested to read what happened when my friend Emma . who created Young Rewired State over here tried to increase the proportion of female participation last year.http://mulqueeny.wordpress….

  27. Anne Libby

    To a point by @mspseudulous, it’s great to see thoughtful conversation on this topic.And to “We see very few women entrepreneurs walk into USV and that is disappointing to me,” a few years back I read some of Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s research and experienced some facepalming moments of self-recognition.One thing that Hewlett talks about is that women sometimes wait to be invited. I saw this in myself, and have worked hard to change it. (Verdict: still room for improvement.)Though it speaks to a corporate environment, lots of interesting points in this Hewlett report: some can be generalized to any professional ecosystem…http://www.talentinnovation…Happy holidays, all.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Thanks for the link, Anne. Will read!

      1. Anne Libby

        I may still have a few extra copies of this research report…if so, I’ll bring one for you when I see you next month.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Thank you!



    1. Jennifer McFadden

      Hahahaha. So true.

  29. Melinda Byerley

    Fred, as I mentioned on Twitter, getting girls to code will all be meaningless if the root causes that drive women out of technology are not also addressed. There are many, many articles on the internet about this, so I won’t rehash them, but I am available to share my own personal experiences if they would provide perspective. I taught myself to code in BASIC in a classroom computer at age 12, and prior to that had my dad teach me how to solder together my first computer–a sinclair ZX-80. I showed a natural inclination to computer science. fast forward 30 (gulp) years and more than 10 just in the technology industry my experience is that we are moving backwards in terms of making tech companies welcoming to all. No matter how well intentioned, no matter how many brilliant essays, I have come to believe Paul Graham’s Y Combinator is a contributing factor to the disturbing regression to sexism and exclusion from tech’s original, much more inclusive and more meritocratic roots. Like you, it is my fervent hope that this “internet shitstorm” pushes everyone, including Paul, to really stop and think about this issue like never before. It’s not something women or people of color can do alone, we need help from the existing power structures to change, much as the civil rights act, fair housing act, and Lilly Ledbetter acts were needed to start correcting injustices of the past. Thanks for listening this far.

  30. laurie kalmanson


  31. jason wright

    god, i wish we could get beyond gender and pigmentation and let talent flourish. it will only happen when wealth is redistributed across societies.

  32. laurie kalmanson

    it’s in the air, it’s in the water. my tween daughter signed up for an after-school lego/robotics class and didn’t want to go back after the first day because it was all boys. i am seriously considering an all-girls high school after she finishes her k-8 program.she loves drawing and she loves computers: thinking about planting seeds for the future, i started researching interactive design degree programs to show her some possible paths, but i stopped when the online catalogs i saw had photos of only men — i decided it would be better to show her nothing at all than to show her something she would think excluded her



    1. LE

      A reality TV idea.Hire actors to pitch VC’s the ideas that are developed by others. The actors will totally look and quack like the ducks that are typically funded. PG will interview a team that is a total zuckerclone with all the right answers and all the right looks to get funded. We see how long the clones can keep Paul interested before he figures out what is going on. The ideas are real but they are presented by actors. Would also work on Shark Tank as well for that matter.



      2. Drew Meyers

        I think this has legs too. I hate reality tv, so I wouldn’t watch. But I bet a ton of people would.

        1. LE

          I like reality tv because I like to watch and study people’s emotions and reactions in real time. I like to correlate people’s facial tics and micro expressions, voice, mannerisms, and predict what they will do down the line and how relationships develop and disintegrate based on what they are saying both non verbally (and also obviously verbally).

    2. laurie kalmanson

      related: the women play better when the selection committee doesn’t know they’re women…To overcome possible biases in hiring, most orchestras revised their audition policies in the 1970s and 1980s. A major change involved the use of blind’ auditions with a screen’ to conceal the identity of the candidate from the jury. Female musicians in the top five symphony orchestras in the United States were less than 5% of all players in 1970 but are 25% today. We ask whether women were more likely to be advanced and/or hired with the use of blind’ auditions. Using data from actual auditions in an individual fixed-effects framework, we find that the screen increases by 50% the probability a woman will be advanced out of certain preliminary rounds. The screen also enhances, by severalfold, the likelihood a female contestant will be the winner in the final round. Using data on orchestra personnel, the switch to blind’ auditions can explain between 30% and 55% of the increase in the proportion female among new hires and between 25% and 46% of the increase in the percentage female in the orchestras since 1970.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      PUT SIGNUP PAGE FOR GET INVESTMENT UP WITH PICTURE OF VC-LOOKING FEMALE.I could buy a blue shirt and rent myself out as a model. That might change some ratios. 😉



        1. Donna Brewington White

          Ha ha!!!

  34. Donna Brewington White

    You get girls interested in computers by showing them the relationship between computers and what they are already interested in. You show them computers as a means vs. an end. You show them how computers will help accomplish their goals. Perhaps that would work for more boys too. But girls may be more prone to think about how things relate to each other and how they themselves relate to others. I try to avoid generalizations but this one is hard to avoid. Nevertheless, it is a generalization with the caveats that come with that.

  35. Lucinda

    The problem isn’t getting girls into these fields. It’s having them stay there. Which they won’t as long there are sexist douchebags like Paul Graham.

  36. AmyVernon

    The broader problem with is comments is he’s basically saying that unless you’ve been coding for 10 years, there’s no place for you in the tech ecosystem that surrounds him. Which is ridiculous. I agree we need to do more at younger ages to get girls involved in coding/computing – the answer does not lie with our utterly segregated toy stores where all the girl toys are pink and all the cool toys are elsewhere.Thank you for this very thoughtful – and constructive – post. I just think that Graham’s problems exist outside of that one statement he made.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Look who’s here 🙂 Great comment.

      1. AmyVernon

        lol, @MsPseudolus:disqus – I feel as if I should have written, “long-time, first time” as this is the first time I’ve ever commented here, though not the first I’ve ever read. 🙂

        1. ShanaC

          Really? Well welcome

          1. AmyVernon

            Thank you, @ShanaC:disqus 🙂

          2. ShanaC

            my custom is usually to also ask a question as well – proves to make a community more sticky. 🙂



      1. Cynthia Schames

        See, here’s what makes that bullshit.How much “hard CS” is YC really funding? Not much. They’re funding consumer plays out the ass. That != company built of code.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. AmyVernon

        I don’t necessarily agree. Just because someone’s been coding for a long time doesn’t mean they have a better idea. Also, that doesn’t explain plenty of people who have succeeded in tech who aren’t coders. Take Kevin Rose for example – he only had very basic knowledge of coding.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. AmyVernon

            But you don’t have to have been coding for 10 years to be good at something. And yes, execution is important, but execution on a crappy idea is still crappy.In addition, a female founder can also be the non-technical founder. More skills than just coding are needed in any startup – platform or not.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  37. Donna Brewington White

    Fred it wasn’t until I looked again that I realized that you weren’t one of the kids. That oughtta make your day.

  38. LE

    “Paul asks “God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers?””The question is really not how to get “13 years old girls interested in computers” it’s about allowing “13 year old girls who might be interested in computers to feel accepted and to provide them the resources to find out if they are or could be interested in computers”.”Most” 13 year old girls are not interested in computers the same way most 13 year old girls are not going to become the next Ayah Bdeir [1] If you look at what 13 year old girls are interested in (as a group not the individual who could differ like Ayah) you are not going to get them to care about computers like they do their looks or Justin Beiber. Period. Does anyone really think it’s as simple as just “exposure”? There are “girly girls” and those “girly girls” are not going to shift from being the way they are just based on exposure. Of course not every girl is a “girly girl” so that is really the group that you are trying to reach. And there are those that are in between as well.I have two girls, my wife is a girl, I have two sisters, and a mother and I can tell you for sure that they are interested in what they are interested in and that’s that. No talking on my part is going to make them say “hey that’s interesting I’d like to give “c” a chance, cool!”. And these are not stupid women either (my sister and my wife are very well educated).Lastly my step daughter could be the next Ayah and sucks up anything and everything mechanical and is very curious asks questions does lego etc.. My step son just wants to shoot baskets and watch sports. They are both bright (top grades bla bla bla). But try as I do I can’t get the boy interested in anything about business or computers or anything mechanical. And it’s not for lack of trying.[1] “…”

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Now, you are trying to tell me that “It’s notnice to try to fool Mother Nature.”?Step 1: Learn how to herd cats.Step 2: Teach a parrot to peck out’Ode to Joy’ on a piano.Step 3: Answer the question men havebeen struggling with for thousands ofof years, “What does a woman want?”.Step 4: Invent an algorithm that showsthat P = NP.Now maybe you are qualified to try to get13 year old girls interested in computing!

      1. LE

        I know you are “old school” and agree 97% with 99.5% of the things I have said in this thread. At least that is my guess.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Here I’m just agreeing with you!As you explained, you have a mother, sisters,a wife, and daughters. Thus, necessarilyyou have learned in overwhelmingly strongterms that my steps 1-4 are good prerequisitesto changing what Mother Nature wants for13 year old girls! Right: My prerequisitesare right next to impossible, just like whatPG mentioned for such girls.A good writer could have 10 years ofprime time sitcom material on what I caneasily imagine are your frustrations asyou tried to be ‘gender neutral’ and atthe same time understand all those femalesin your life! Men would be slapping theirthighs in laughter so hard that there wouldbe a nationwide epidemic of fractured femurs!Especially for men over, say, 35! For menunder 35, the show would provide some ofthe most important lessons of their lives!Or, long ago, Mother Nature filtered outany girls that could be so easily distracted.Or, as in some of the content here, whatthe girls who code are really interested inis not the coding or computing, heck no,but praise, acceptance, approval, membershipin the group of girls, and the chance to meetboys, especially ones with a better thanaverage chance of being a good breadwinnerand much easier to manipulate than morebroadly informed boys! Same old, same old.Old wine, new bottles. Exercise: My brother’s daughter, in high school, tookauto body repair. Why? (A) She wanteda career in the auto repair industry. (B) She was interested in mechanical things,especially cars. (C) She wanted to learnmore about cars. (D) She wanted to meetboys. If you have any doubt about theanswer, then read again all my posts inthis thread.Or, girls are highlytalented, grand masters at social manipulation(much more than PG’s 10 years of codingstarting at 13), and nerd boys are easypickings, like some junior high B-ball team against the NBA all-stars!Starting at coding at 13? Heck, girlsare already masters of manipulationat 18 months — literally. It’s astounding.Or, how the heck do you think that20,000 years ago Mother Nature gotfathers to be as protective as necessaryfor their daughters? Protective? Justlook at them: Cute, sweet, pretty, darling,adorable, precious and in nearly allrespects against nature or nasty men,just helpless. They were helpless andneeded to be care for.Proof: That’s the way they are inWestern Europe and in Japan,that is, those two are very close.But they are necessarily even closer to their common ancestorsabout 10,000, maybe 20,000years ago. QED.There are a lot of nerd men over 20 withstill a long way to go to catch up withthe social skills of a normal 6 year oldgirl. Likely the men will just concentrateon ‘man’s work’ and not catch up onsocial skills until they are grandfathersif ever.This thread is trivializing the life of girls,and I’m trying to get us back to reality.There is an E. Fromm remark: “Menand women deserve equal respectas persons but are not the same.”.And I would say, as I finally concludedat great cost long ago, Mother Naturelong ago filtered out girls and womenwho had any chance of being the “same”as boys and men. Sorry ’bout that.Boys can learn this lesson here, now,at low cost or much later at much higher cost.Simple version of the lesson: Don’ttry to fool Mother Nature.

  39. Eddie Wharton

    This is one the most productive approaches to this serous problem. Crucifying anyone will not save the problem and in PG’s case may not even be fair. People who get lost in the discussion and on placing blame miss out on the opportunity to actually help. Kudos!

  40. sigmaalgebra

    Telling point: Klawe’s daughter called her parents”dorks” or some such. I.e. Klawe was not successfulin getting her own daughter into STEM attitudes.Klawe is a bit tough to read: Her field has been discrete math and computer science in academicsand industry research, but she shows a lot offeminine characteristics, e.g., wanting to save theworld, working to make the early computer sciencecourses ‘feel good’ for the students, being quite’social’ with the interviewer, etc.Some of the more serious faculty members at HarveyMudd will look at her praise of the revision of theearly computer science courses as a very bad sign:Why? Because such hard work on a traditionally’secondary’ (not part of the core technical content)aspect of teaching, or on teaching at all, will be regarded as a slap in the face of research. Moreoverany professor who spent time on such ‘course development’ will likely be in trouble at tenure andpromotion time.High end US academics is still about just three things,research, research, and research. The best teachingis regarded as necessarily from the best research;exciting, pleasing, and motivating the students and otherwork on ‘pedagogy’ are regarded as for K-12 or justK-6. One reason: At a high end US research university,maybe 60% of the funding comes from NSF/NIH researchgrants, and those grants are from research proposals thatnearly always are about just good research and are reviewed by some of the best academic researchers inthe world.Moreover, as M. Klawe should know well from much of herbackground, the students want ‘computer science’ so thatthey can get good jobs, mostly in coding, but the fieldof ‘computer science’ past just the first courses in coding(usually in popular programming languages) is heavily about research in applied math trying to find the ‘fundamentals’ of computing. Yes, some of the bestprerequisites for such fundamentals is Klawe’s field,discrete math. Making coding ‘fun’, where a computergives a nice, big, immediate response to just meagerhuman inputs, is much easier than understanding discrete math, say, some of the early chapters in Knuth’s TACP, graph theory, combinatorial optimization,approximation in combinatorics, and the Holy Grailproblem of computer science, P versus NP. Thereneed to want to emulate Paul Erdos, not Mark Zuckerberg! I’d place my bets on 99 44/100%of “13 year old girls” and the ‘cool’ girls in SiliconValley and Klawe’s daughter thinking that Zuckerbergwas really ‘cool’ and Erdos a world champion’dork’.Coding? Sure, girls can learn to code and will havesome advantages in some parts. Computer science?Junior, senior level and beyond, I believe that they won’tlike it.Klawe’s big claim that the US needs more coders orcomputer scientists? Hmm ….. Let’s see: Can a 35 year old ‘developer’ afford to buy a house currently owned by a plumber, electrician, ownerof three fast food restaurants, a guy with four teams mowing grass, a dentist, a radiologist,an echo cardiologist, a guy with three successfulplumbing supply stores? Note that an electriciancan work long after he gets gray hairs; whatabout a ‘developer’?I’d suggest to Klawe, for her goals for women inCS, she should, uh, let her hair grow and, thus,look more like a woman instead of a woman trying to look like a man trying to look like awoman trying to be a man or some such.Girls learn early on, whether it is true or false,that their best cards in life are their femininity,i.e., being a cheerleader and not a footballplayer. As I remember from grades 6-10, the girls were working really, really, really,astoundingly hard on their femininity, i.e.,attracting boys and not trying to competewith them.Uh, “It’s not nice to try to fool Mother Nature”!

  41. Kirsten Lambertsen

    In 20 years, YC can fund her. Meanwhile, there are a lot of grownup females ready to kill it 🙂

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Not a chance! Mother Nature was there longbefore that Apple computer and filtered outgirls that could be so easily distracted!She’s too cute! So, long before YCombinator,Mr. Right will come along and make her anoffer she won’t refuse! Then babies, and Mother Nature wins again!Remember: It’s not nice to try to fool MotherNature.Also, keep in mind: Whatever 50% or 80% ofgirls do, there will always be a few nice, wealthymen who will give $1 million or $1 billion and theirright arm or more for a really nice girl! A girlbeing pretty is like a man being rich. A smartgirl doesn’t have to think. And a nice, wealthyman won’t care if she can code! For a cutegirl to be rich, start a business? Heck no!She has a much easier way: Just find a nice,wealthy man! I’m surprised that a womandoesn’t clearly understand such things!Again, she’s way too cute! Soon she willhave her father wrapped around her littlefinger and have him so well trained thathe will never say no to her — for years shewill clearly understand what she’s doingmanipulating him and he won’t! Computers?Nonsense! She has much more powerfultools and much better options. Like changing a tire, a cute, smart girl can geta man to do it!I started out seeing girls in a ‘gender neutral’way. After the horrendous cost of that terriblemistake, I ‘got smart’ and started to understandgirls a little. I’m not going back to that awfulignorance now! Not a chance!

      1. ShanaC

        There are more cute girls than wealthy men.And one should note, that if we’re going to have a super traditional point of view, the ideal biblical Woman works.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          My post was half joking but likely offendedsome people highly sensitive on the subjectof women and equality.On women’s equality, I paid my dues; oneof the reasons I left FedEx and my chanceof $500,000 in founder’s stock was that Icould be back with my wife in MD and giveher more time for her Ph.D. I tried hard tomarry the most capable woman I could find:Her family looked like something out of aNorman Rockwell painting; her father wasa great guy and had been a Captain in theArmy and was a electric utility executive,member of the school board and bankboard, and leader in the community. Hiswife was church, cooking, children, sewing(yes, from Bismark). My wife was Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, PBK,and Ph.D., and had won prizes incooking, sewing, and raising chickens.She sang in the church choir, played piano to accompany operettas, andplayed clarinet in the band.Still I made a terrible mistake, and sodid she and her family. We tried to fool Mother Nature, and the result was disaster. I strongly recommendthat people be very careful aboutassuming that girls can do ‘boy’s work’as long as they don’t see any reasonwhy not. There are reasons, somevery powerful but not easy to see.Yes, there are more cute girls thanrich men. I know. And some of thecute girls, raised to be cared foras children, end up with lives so sadthey would bring rivers of tears fromstone.My wife’s father gave her some goodadvice: “Whatever you do in college,make sure you leave with a teachingcertificate.” She and her mother werevery much against this and, instead,were determined to have her crashthrough glass ceilings and save the world. She got a Ph.D. but not ateaching certificate — big mistake.Your quote of the ideal Biblical womanis interesting. Somehow Christian womenseem to want to be so weak, meek, andpassive and childlike that they are much more vulnerable “to the hostileforces of nature and society” (E. Fromm)and much less productive in modernsociety than one might expect. Indeed,there is a theme of such women beingdeliberately vulnerable.I’ve long noticed that Jewish womenseem very different on being productiveand not vulnerable. Your quote seemsto indicate one of the reasons why.I gave up on looking at women andgirls in a ‘gender neutral’ way; thecosts I paid for trying to do that werefar, far too high. I don’t know a goodsolution, but I do believe that someof the more ‘traditional’ images ofwomen in movies from the 1930s,1940s, and 1950s seem much morepromising for women than most ofthe attempts at changes since.I’ve seen far too many pains fromefforts at making women ‘equal’,which in major ways would be abig step down. So, to avoid pains,I gave up and just adopted theattitude that it’s not nice to tryto fool Mother Nature. Or, toborrow from an Indiana Jonesmovie, “You’re meddling with powers you cannot possibly comprehend.”I’m on the side of the girls and womenand don’t want them hurt.

          1. ShanaC

            Orthodox households read/sing the eishet chayil every friday night. I was explictly given lessons on this as well in religious seminary.For those missing what is going on, the end of proverbs traditionally is a poem by David to bathsheba. It is unlikely he actually wrote it. it describes the ideal wife, and the description actually has the ideal wife running her own business in the wool and flax trade, then using the profits to by a vineyard. It also explicitly mentions to not marry for beauty, but rather for someone who fears god (I fail at that last part):י אֵשֶׁת-חַיִל, מִי יִמְצָא; וְרָחֹק מִפְּנִינִים מִכְרָהּ.10 A woman of valour who can find? for her price is far above rubies.יא בָּטַח בָּהּ, לֵב בַּעְלָהּ; וְשָׁלָל, לֹא יֶחְסָר.11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, and he hath no lack of gain.יב גְּמָלַתְהוּ טוֹב וְלֹא-רָע– כֹּל, יְמֵי חַיֶּיהָ.12 She doeth him good and not evil all the days of her life.יג דָּרְשָׁה, צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים; וַתַּעַשׂ, בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּיהָ.13 She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.יד הָיְתָה, כָּאֳנִיּוֹת סוֹחֵר; מִמֶּרְחָק, תָּבִיא לַחְמָהּ.14 She is like the merchant-ships; she bringeth her food from afar.טו וַתָּקָם, בְּעוֹד לַיְלָה–וַתִּתֵּן טֶרֶף לְבֵיתָהּ; וְחֹק, לְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ.15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth food to her household, and a portion to her maidens.טז זָמְמָה שָׂדֶה, וַתִּקָּחֵהוּ; מִפְּרִי כַפֶּיהָ, נטע (נָטְעָה) כָּרֶם.16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.יז חָגְרָה בְעוֹז מָתְנֶיהָ; וַתְּאַמֵּץ, זְרוֹעֹתֶיהָ.17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and maketh strong her arms.יח טָעֲמָה, כִּי-טוֹב סַחְרָהּ; לֹא-יִכְבֶּה בליל (בַלַּיְלָה) נֵרָהּ.18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her lamp goeth not out by night.יט יָדֶיהָ, שִׁלְּחָה בַכִּישׁוֹר; וְכַפֶּיהָ, תָּמְכוּ פָלֶךְ.19 She layeth her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.כ כַּפָּהּ, פָּרְשָׂה לֶעָנִי; וְיָדֶיהָ, שִׁלְּחָה לָאֶבְיוֹן.20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.כא לֹא-תִירָא לְבֵיתָהּ מִשָּׁלֶג: כִּי כָל-בֵּיתָהּ, לָבֻשׁ שָׁנִים.21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet.כב מַרְבַדִּים עָשְׂתָה-לָּהּ; שֵׁשׁ וְאַרְגָּמָן לְבוּשָׁהּ.22 She maketh for herself coverlets; her clothing is fine linen and purple.כג נוֹדָע בַּשְּׁעָרִים בַּעְלָהּ; בְּשִׁבְתּוֹ, עִם-זִקְנֵי-אָרֶץ.23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.כד סָדִין עָשְׂתָה, וַתִּמְכֹּר; וַחֲגוֹר, נָתְנָה לַכְּנַעֲנִי.24 She maketh linen garments and selleth them; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.כה עֹז-וְהָדָר לְבוּשָׁהּ; וַתִּשְׂחַק, לְיוֹם אַחֲרוֹן.25 Strength and dignity are her clothing; and she laugheth at the time to come.כו פִּיהָ, פָּתְחָה בְחָכְמָה; וְתוֹרַת חֶסֶד, עַל-לְשׁוֹנָהּ.26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and the law of kindness is on her tongue.כז צוֹפִיָּה, הילכות (הֲלִיכוֹת) בֵּיתָהּ; וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת, לֹא תֹאכֵל.27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.כח קָמוּ בָנֶיהָ, וַיְאַשְּׁרוּהָ; בַּעְלָהּ, וַיְהַלְלָהּ.28 Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her:כט רַבּוֹת בָּנוֹת, עָשׂוּ חָיִל; וְאַתְּ, עָלִית עַל-כֻּלָּנָה.29 ‘Many daughters have done valiantly, but thou excellest them all.’ל שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן, וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי: אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת-יְהוָה, הִיא תִתְהַלָּל.30 Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.לא תְּנוּ-לָהּ, מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ; וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶׂיהָ. {ש}31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her works praise her in the gates.{P}

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Maybe this sounds like GG?Your quotes explain a lot, about Jewish womenI’ve known that looked like they read some suchand Christian women I’ve known that certainlylooked like they hadm’t.One theme of some Christian women is thatthey should not “sell” or “build a vineyard” as inyour quote because they would be afraid thatthen they would be regarded as less worthy ofbeing cared for.Once I did get a nice surprise: The high schoolI went to was by far the best in the city. I doubtthat there was a Jewish high school. So, right,it appeared that nearly all the Jewish studentsin town went to my high school. So, right, for1-2-3 on the Math SATs, I was 2 and 1 and 3 were Jewish!Well, in a communication with the alumni Website of that high school, I mentioned that I am living within 100 miles of Wall Street,got a STEM Ph.D., made some progresswith violin, was at IBM’s Watson lab inartificial intelligence, and was doingan IT startup. So, I got e-mail from one of the girls, Jewish, in my class tellingme that she had two single daughters!Gee, I would have been thrilled to haveher been that friendly when I was inhigh school where it appeared that therewas a rule that girls would ignore allboys less than four years older!I can’t solve the problems of women inour society. I do urge women to be verycareful and otherwise risk getting hurt,possibly seriously.Yesterday I made some good progresson what should be the last of the coding,except maybe for a little from a criticalreview, needed to get my Web site live(I will still need to add some initial data).Today I posted too much here and needto get back to finishing what I was doingyesterday. So, for now I have to leavethe problems of women to others.I will end with the advice my father inlaw gave my wife: Whatever you doin college, be sure you leave with ateaching certificate. Well, maybe in’coding’. Maybe your Bible quoteswould be still better advice.

    2. ShanaC


    3. Donna Brewington White

      We all need a time in life to be darling. And she certainly is.Conquering the world can come later.

  42. Dan Goldin

    Interesting post – this actually got me thinking of Etsy and how they’ve been able to transform their culture and get a lot more women on board. Not sure how to do this on a large scale but if a company cares enough to do it they can do it.

  43. defcon_5

    Middle school is too late to begin. There’s an innate interest in the elementary school years – when ‘science’ is introduced – and it’s fun because it’s focused on cause-and-effect. Alongside the dry-ice experiments and the seed-planting trays should be the rudimentary game-coding exercise. I’ve got a 9-year-old who first asked how to “make” her own “app” two years ago, after just six weeks with an iPad. And she kept asking until we set her up. Get them before the social forces start assigning gender roles. Because if anyone told her “girls don’t code” now, she’d laugh you out of the room. Likewise, a focus just on the young is too little. This isn’t a demographic answer, it’s a psychographic one. Women in their 40s are consistently shown to be incredibly experimental and progressive – with the (newfound) free time to pursue new interests. Book-end it.

  44. David

    I wonder how many of the commenters on Girls and Coding actually started programming computers in their early teens. I am one of those people and I experienced first hand that I and many of my male friends had a passion for programming computers (as well as working on bicycles, working in garages) while girls almost never did. We would try to get girls involved but they simply were not interested. Their interests are elsewhere and that’s ok. Nobody is decrying the fact that only 25% of graduating psychologists are male or that the percentage of men in fashion and ballet/dance is probably way below the female percentage.For those who haven’t experienced it, programming computers and relating to machines for long hours is not a very human and social experience. If you speak with many women and others why they do not like programming, this is a major reason.According to autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen (cousin of the famous comedian Sasha — Barat, Ali G) there is a reason as explained in the emphathizing-systemitizing (ES) theory. Males are 8 times to be more autistic than females. Those with Autism (and its cousin Aspergers) are extreme systemitizers (like math, problem solving, …) and females are typically more empathizers (like relating to other human beings). Empathizers have a higher quantity of “mirror neurons.”Baron-Cohen: The essential difference…An “eye test” for testing empathizing. Females typically do better than males:

    1. Maroonblazer

      Exactly my thought too. Pinker, in “The Blank Slate”, provides considerable evidence for innate differences between men and women – differences that aren’t social constructions – that account for disparities like those you mention and quite possibly the topic at hand.Should we do everything possible to ensure both males and females have equal access and encouragement to pursue technology? Absolutely. But looking for some kind of statistical quota may be a fool’s errand.

    2. LE

      For those who haven’t experienced it, programming computers and relating to machines for long hours is not a very human and social experience. If you speak with many women and others why they do not like programming, this is a major reason.Being popular, good looking and funny is probably a good way to make sure you never spend long hours relating to machines. Or studying to be a doctor. Or becoming the next Bruce Springsteen.In general, and of course there are exceptions, a girl who is attractive and pursued by males (while going through puberty especially) will be put in a state whereby she is going to want that reinforcement and spend more time because, well, it makes her feel good.I was very fortunate to not really have what it takes to be popular in high school so I had plenty of time to concentrate on doing stuff that would matter in the future. Had I been all distracted with people wanting to spend time with me, well, things would probably end up much different. Of course the truth is to this day I don’t care about that anyway preferring not to socialize and go to parties and do all of that. But maybe if I got positive reinforcement I would. Who knows?

      1. Carrie Mantha

        @domainregistry:disqus Since most of your comments on this thread seem to be based on personal anecdotes, let me give you a contrasting example: at the risk of sounding more arrogant than I assure you I am, I’ve had the benefit (or detriment) of being physically attractive most of my life. I was Miss Teen Florida, a working model, and Miss Florida USA. Here’s the kicker: then I became a surgeon. And then I became a hedge fund manager. And then a consultant working with giant machines. And then I founded a tech start-up. So it turns out that being popular and good-looking, at least (funny is pretty subjective but I did rap the entirety of Ice Ice Baby to Russel Simmons with a straight face while convincing him it was a serious audition at a party once) is NOT a sure way to avoid spending long hours relating to machines or studying to be a doctor (I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, though, so you may have me on the Bruce Springsteen thing).And to your earlier comment, I did get those exact questions on why I wasn’t married by 30 (I’m from the South, so however many questions you’re assuming girls like that get, multiply it by 10). However, I can assure you the reason had nothing to do an overestimation of what I “deserved.” The reason was simply that I loved what I was doing, had a very full life, and didn’t see the need to put my happiness in someone else’s hands (for the record, I am married now and my husband is a total stud, so there’s that).I appreciate you sharing your perspectives so candidly, but I have two problems with them:1. they perpetuate the notion that being pursued by males makes girls “feel good” and that somehow that is on the same level of satisfaction she can get from pushing her mind to its limits, building things, solving problems, and generating wealth. That’s dead wrong, and it’s dangerous to any little girls who might fall into the trap of believing it.2. this one is personal – I’ve actually had people question my commitment to my company because I “looked like a trophy wife” who “would probably just get bored and move on” (note, this is after investing $750k of my own money and more than two years of my time). Those people were operating under the exact same set up assumptions that you are.So please know that there are very real consequences of the views you’re holding. Young girls need to be encouraged to find lasting fulfillment within themselves and their talents, not some fleeting physical beauty and a man who’s only interested in it (that almost always ends badly as the beauty fades, the men leave – or worse – and the women are left with no sense of self). And women deserve to be judged on their accomplishments, not their looks. I think we owe it to half the planet to do a better job on both of these.

        1. ShanaC


        2. LE

          Carrie first of all I really like your comment and I did google you to find out more (because of what you said and the time you put in to make your point).But you are a total absolute outlier. Most women are not you in terms of achievement or potential for sure (forgetting the looks for one second). I wouldn’t expect you to marry a “schluub” (yiddish word essentially a nobody maybe even a loser).My comment was strictly related to the fact that women (and even men) typically overestimate what they are able to achieve marriage wise given their “assets”. Obviously this has to do with what a person really is vs. what they think they are. I tried to make a comparison to purchasing real estate because people are likely to understand exactly what they can get “for the money” if you know what I mean.As far as your point #1 that is true but that is going to take a long time to change.After all you are dealing with “ordinary” people so it’s like me thinking that getting kids to not try drugs (I never even tried pot and had exactly 1 cigarette at my bar mitzvah with my dad’s permission and didn’t like it) is just a matter of a little education and it’s not. I also didn’t drink at all in college. How common is that? Some people are lemmings and just get sucked in. Not going to change that overnight. Human nature. Noting also that you look fabulous in all the pictures that I can find (hope my wife doesn’t read this) so you certainly are in a sense furthering the whole association of women and beauty (even Sheryl Sandberg does that I mean men in tech are more grungy right? Sheryl poses for Vogue. Or was that Marissa? I forget.) That said use it to your advantage. After you achieve success spend time changing the world.As far as point #2 they are definitely wrong there and you are right they are clueless and showing their bias (and that’s coming from me you don’t know me but that says a lot if I think that). I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to make a bet on you. Then again I’m a little disappointed that you gave up medicine to do a fashion startup but I hope you succeed at that and I think you will. Actually if you don’t like to practice medicine then you did the right thing. (that almost always ends badly as the beauty fades, the men leave – or worse – and the women are left with no sense of self).One of the things I have been saying for years. And I’ve seen that happen so many times. Aggressive male goes after pretty woman and knocks out all the competition. Looks definitely fade over time. Man is no longer interested in woman because the thing he liked most about her doesn’t exist. Guy like me would never pursue a woman. Any woman. If they don’t want me I would move on. Has to be mutual.I will go one step further. I have said to people that I”m glad my daughters are attractive “enough” that they won’t be pursued by someone who just wants them for their looks. Either end of the bell curve can be a bad situation.

          1. Carrie Mantha

            LE, I think you’re taking the wrong thing from this discussion. Of course I am an outlier. As are you. And as is every single person commenting on this blog. Entrepreneurs are almost definitionally outliers – it’s takes an unusual mind to imagine something that doesn’t exist and an unusual will (generally along with unusual talent) to bring it into existence. No part of this conversation has been centered on “normal” people or the middle of the bell curve. The question is, in my mind at least, why the outliers we’re seeing in this field are disproportionately male.You made the argument that the pool of would-be female outliers is shrunk because the attractive ones are pulled away by the “easy option” of marrying money. From personal experience, I’m telling you that’s hogwash. No smart, ambitious, intellectually curious person – man or woman – is likely to be fulfilled by superficial flattery and a “life of leisure.” I don’t think that accounts for any part of the gender disparity in tech. The important point that think you’re missing is that the we’re using the wrong markers as predictors of success in this setting, both in young people and in adult founders. You don’t have to be white to be a great entrepreneur. You don’t have to be 25. You don’t have to be solely into programming at 15 to run a tech company, and you don’t have to be male or unattractive at that point either.  As long as anyone believes in these terrible surrogate markers, we’ll keep pushing talented young girls, minorities, older people and a lot of other “non-bro’s” away from this field, even if it’s subconsciously. I’m not sure this is the appropriate forum, but I feel compelled to correct your characterization of my career.  I did not “leave medicine to start a fashion company.”  I left medicine – where my impact was limited to the number of people I could operate on in a finite period of time and not at all leveragable or likely to change the world – to invest in biotech companies, some of whom I can genuinely say impacted the world with a tiny bit of help from my capital and involvement. And I left investing to help biotech companies improve manufacturing, where a lot of promising drugs get tripped up and where very few outside perspectives were being brought (not to mention that I was fascinated by the combination of medicinal chemistry and mechanical engineering).  I left biotech to bring that technical innovation to a three trillion dollar industry that employs millions of people in inhumane conditions, poisons the environment, contributes 100 million tons of waste to landfills every year, consumes an average of 5% of all household incomes, and directly impacts the self esteem and self expression of almost half the planet. Still disappointed?  We work on everything from textile physics and visual rendering to computer vision, CAD manipulation, machinery invention, and sensor-driven automated manufacturing. I hope you’ll think a bit before dismissing things as too pretty or frilly for real engineering, whether they’re women or industries. 

          2. Cynthia Schames

            Carrie Mantha, Every time you talk I fall more in love. You make me so goddamn proud to be your friend and partner.

    3. Channing Walton

      “programming computers and relating to machines for long hours is not a very human and social experience”I have to take issue with this. Whilst programming and solving problems does involve some of that, a significant amount of time is also spent working very closely with people. I spend 1/4 to 1/2 my day talking to business people, helping them to figure out what they need, or discussing ideas with my team. Outside of work I also spend a lot of time talking to people about ideas and new concepts.Some time ago we had a psychologist study our team because we were pair programming 100% of the time. That means spending your entire day with a partner. She was blown away by just how much personal communication went on. More than anything she’d seen anywhere.The idea of programming being a solitary, lonely, occupation is just not accurate.

      1. David

        Your experience spending about half the workday interacting with business people is not the typical programming experience that I and others that grew up programming.In addition to my own experience programming, I have been around a number of programmers for quite some time and I assure those that have not done it that programming is as I have said: you work in front of machines for long hours and it is not a very social experience.

        1. Channing Walton

          That’s a pity. It’s very typical if a lot of devs I work with. Maybe it’s the. Afire if the work we do.

  45. Matt Zagaja

    Cultural problems are the toughest problems to tackle. There is usually a macro and micro disconnect when dealing with them. If any individual man or woman decides not to be a programmer, but does something else and is happy and successful with it, then I do not think most people would view it as an issue. However if you’re a VC and believe that people are more likely to succeed when they solve their own problems, then the lack of diversity starts to look like a gap in opportunity to make money.I thought Etsy’s approach was interesting:…. This also lead me to find the Passion Projects page at GitHub http://passion-projects.git….Free market people usually expect markets to solve the problem, but that happens less often then you’d expect. Incumbency is powerful which is why old companies (or governments) can require job applications to be sent using 1980s fax technology and still fill their positions with qualified people. It is also why the Hartford Courant is one of the most widely read periodicals in my state even though CT Mirror is doing way cooler things with data visualizations and has better articles.Furthermore change takes a long time. You can’t lose weight overnight. Obamacare took years to get implemented, and Ted Kennedy was fighting for it (or things like it) long before it was passed. The electric car was invented long before I was born but only recently has Elon Musk been driving its adoption. Kansas City has gigabit fiber from Google and I’m putzing along at 25Mbps from Cox here in the suburbs.Ultimately there are places that are early adopters, that embrace or pioneer change before others. This might be Massachusetts and healthcare reform, Etsy and hiring women, or California and electric vehicles. You would expect people to see and learn from their successes, but too often they do not. In an ideal world you would see people who do not embrace the innovation crash and burn as a warning to the others and then you’d get widespread adoption. Instead incumbents are big enough that they slowly sink like a leaky boat.I could be completely wrong, but if I had money and was going to bet on which VC fund or accelerator does better, I’d bet on the one that has diversity. Keep up the good work, Fred.

  46. Buck French

    Fred,I read your blog everyday and have never commented, this one hit home. I don’t feel I have an answer to this issue other than sitting down with my 10 year old daughter and reading it to her. Not that I care whether she is a coder or not, I just care that she believes she can do whatever she wants to do and she chases her dream, which is exactly what I think this is all about.Thank you for providing a tool that allows me to highlight this. Her quote, “Dad, whether or not I want to, I am already taking computers in school.” She is 10 years old, in an all girls school and already taking computers. I knew this, but to her it was no different than taking art, math, science or whatever. It will change as it becomes just another piece of the core curriculum. Perhaps not as fast as some would want, but it is coming.Thanks for providing the catalyst for me to have a chat with my love. Perhaps one day she will become an entrepreneur and add to the stats!Best,Buck

    1. ShanaC

      Taking computers in many schools is learning office. Ask for more details

  47. LaVonne Reimer

    Make the M in STEM = music and distribute math across the rest.

  48. Katie

    Much as I agree that education is key, the fact is that most women entering the field now are in high school or college. To say that it is “too late” for these women and minorities to succeed at starting a startup only heightens Imposter Syndrome. More thoughts here:

  49. William Mougayar

    This related post says something similar to what I think as well.”The biggest factor in whether women go into technology is whether they have someone who they can relate to and look up to.”Dear Paul Graham, here’s how to fix the women in tech problem-…

  50. Jennifer McFadden

    Fred,As one of the co-founders and now an advisor at Skillcrush, a site that is singularly focused on increasing technical skills in women of all ages, I have spent an enormous amount of time thinking about, and trying to find solutions to, the gender divide in technology. The reality is that it’s complicated.There are complications derived from a society that still places girls and boys on different tracks at a very young age. I’ve seen this play out firsthand as a mother of two girls–ages 12 and 7. Girls are still pushed into dance, music and art, with some sports thrown in; boys are pushed into sports, math and science. Although there are certain geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural segments of the population where this is not the case, overall it is still true. And in some parts of the country, the biases are even more culturally ingrained and, thus, more intractable.I have spent a significant amount of time in tech/media circles in NYC over the past 5 years, while living 2.5 hours away in a relatively affluent town on the CT coast. I can tell you that the divide between these two worlds is not just geographic, it is cultural.Here, there are still a significant number of women who are stay-at-home mothers (a choice that I fully support). I know only a handful of people who are working in tech-related industries, let alone actually working as programmers. Culturally, technology is not part of the conversation; women still do the majority of household work; and there is a significant emphasis on traditional gender roles.When I tell people that I started my MBA program at Yale the day after I got out of the hospital after giving birth to my second child because I actually WANTED to work, they look at me askance. When I tell them that I spent the past year teaching myself front-end web development, at the age of 40, because I wanted to be in control of building my own websites, they look at me like I’m crazy. When I admit that I’m a feminist who started a site to help women learn to code, oy, don’t even talk to me about it. And remember, I’m not living in a small town in rural VT with limited access to the internet and one computer in each school. I’m living in a highly-educated, relatively affluent town that is 20 minutes away from one of the greatest educational institutions in the world. Hardly podunk.Why does this matter? Because changing these institutionalized biases is a Herculean task. Although I love (really, love, love, love!) what the awesome women at Goldiblocks and Girls Who Code and Hopscotch and even Skillcrush are doing, there are still so many cultural biases that need to be broken down to foster adoption of these products and increase the number of girls and women in tech. These companies are a great start, but only a start.Without a parent who decides to pick up Goldiblocks for her daughter instead of a Bratz doll; who decides to enroll her daughter in after-school programming clubs instead of signing her up for dance classes; who tells her daughter that she should be focusing on math as much as she’s focusing on music; and, who stands up for her daughter when other parents (of both sexes) ask her why she is obsessed with electronics (which happens, trust me, I’ve seen it), we will get nowhere. Without female role models who are present in their communities and proactively talking about their love of technology and their jobs, we will get nowhere. Without more senior level women in technology and tech-related industries who are in the news representing the possible, we will get nowhere.And, here is where Paul Graham comes into play. The tenor of Paul Graham’s comments–whether they fully reflect his actual sentiment–are relevant because he is in a position of power in the tech ecosystem. He has a microphone, a broad audience, and access to a pipeline of young talent across a range of technology-related disciplines. Many people (although arguably not all) who are part of the next generation of tech leadership listen to him. His biased views on gender and on age and on race get magnified by those who follow his gospel and spread it within their own networks.For example, his insistence on perpetuating the myth of the young entrepreneur is even reflected in the post by Taylor rose that you pointed to above.”Unfortunately, there are statistically fewer women who have been hacking for at least 10 years when they are at founding age(early-to-mid 20s).”When did the “founding age” drop to early-to-mid 20s? When Paul Graham started creating a cult of youth at YC that makes crossing the threshold to your thirties seem like the equivalent of entering a leper camp. And he continues to perpetuate this myth despite evidence to the contrary that shows founders in their late-30s are often more successful and have greater staying power than those who are younger.Stating that the only successful founders are those who began coding at an early age is also a tricky myth to perpetuate. I wonder what Vin Vacanti or Kevin Systrom, who learned to code in their spare time in their twenties in order to build their first companies, would say about that. Mike Bloomberg, who not only has an MBA from Harvard (strike one), but also taught himself how to manage the technology development process and launched his own highly-lucrative technology business when he was 38, would probably have something to say about this as well.It is this combination of gender and age bias in the interview that strikes a nerve. It is exclusive and works to perpetuate his perception of the ideal entrepreneur–young and male. Although he acknowledges that it’s hard to figure out how to get a 13-year-old girl interested in coding, he then goes on to say that only the young, who have been coding for 10+ years, should be starting technology companies. This is, de facto, stating that he has a bias to fund young male engineers. Which is obviously a problem given, once again, the microphone that he has access to.It is a problem because this vision excludes large portions of the population who still have the native ability and time to learn new technical skills. Particularly women and girls who have been marginalized in the industry for the past thirty years (although not always).So how do you change any of this? Again, it’s complicated. The reality is that the educational system in the US needs to be radically adjusted to reflect the new world in which we live. Technology is not only relevant to those living in the tech ecosystem and interested in launching their own ventures. It has become fully embedded in our every day life.It impacts our civic life, where legislative issues around the NSA, copyright law, 3D printing, and drones will dominate the conversation over the next 5-10 years and will be debated by a group of people who are largely, and frighteningly, ignorant of many of the technical nuances around these issues. It impacts our economic life, where new forms of currency are emerging that will inevitably shift the balance of economic power toward those who understand the underlying technical constraints. It impacts our social lives, where those who have deep technical mastery are developing the multitude of platforms that we’re using to communicate with one another. It impacts our health, as new tools are created that will shift the way that medicine is managed and delivered.These are not small issues. And, in order to function in this new world, we are all going to have to have a basic level of technical understanding, with many of us needing far more.The only viable solution that I see is that we must fully integrate technology into the educational system in the same way that we incorporate reading, writing and arithmetic–make it mandatory. Start with Scratch and Hopscotch in elementary school, move onto front-end web development in middle school, and basic programming in high school. Integrate these technologies into existing disciplines (e.g., HTML/CSS into art classes). Make it fun–because, lo and behold, it is. Make it accessible to a broad audience by making it applicable to the subjects that students already love to learn.There is no doubt that this will be both difficult and costly. An entire generation of teachers will have to be retrained to teach these skills. Curriculums will have to be radically restructured to adjust for more integrated learning. Schools will have to be retrofitted with technology. Given the current state of our educational system, this too may prove to be a Herculean task. But one that, hopefully, we can move towards achieving over the next 10 years.Until then, we can hope that the amazing women at Girls Who Code and Hopscotch and Skillcrush and Goldiblocks keep doing what they’re doing. We can support them and encourage our friends to engage their daughters in these programs. We can learn to code ourselves so that we can be better role models for our daughters–and, answer their questions when they get stuck. I promise you, doing these things is not that complicated.And, we can stop perpetuating and institutionalizing biases that prevent people from taking those first steps. That’s the easiest solution out there.

    1. Karen Morgan

      I was just about this type this and you did it for me! Thanks!Trying to get girls interested in computing and technology at school age is already “fixing a broken wheel”. Girls are pushed at a very young age to play with dolls and narrow their horizons whilst boys are pushed much harder to think big.I know i could get flamed for this statement but it’s something i’ve noticed amongst my female friends who are getting married / having children.Okay here goes……Many young women i know basically don’t try hard enough. I’ve witnessed girls dropping out of university, quitting good jobs and basically saying “I can be a mother now and let my hubby pay the bills”.I know it’s an awfully sexist statement but it’s how i see it. Until gender roles become truly swappable and young girls are allowed to think big i don’t see anything changing. It almost feels like everything in life and society conspires to hold women back even in the western world.It’s a bit sad really and if i ever have a daughter i’d try really hard to ensure she has the confidence to do anything she wanted, whatever it was.

    2. ShanaC

      I’m in my phone, so please excuse me for the bluntness1)poodunk type attitudes exist in NYC. Enough so that there are yummy mummy yoga jokes about women in brooklyn.2) for real, can we move on from second wave feminism choice architecture. It actually hurts many people, let alone women. And it really only is an argument that makes sense in an upper middle class discussion. There are tons of women and men who would be great founders if we gave them socio-familial support. The choice discussion ends that issue too quickly, because it fails to recognize how choice could lead to social and market failure.3)if we’re going to have women in tech then wanting to draw or do ballet and code, build robots, or do math basically has to be normal. And the question is why it isn’t.

      1. Jennifer McFadden

        I’m not sure what you mean by ‘second wave feminism choice architecture.’And, I have absolutely no problem with women (and men) in tech wanting to draw or do ballet or craft AND do code. In fact, I’ve advocated for that in the past (see:… and I believe that a diversity of interests are critical for anyone who is interested in living a happy life.

        1. ShanaC

          This:…Basically in the 1980s there was a purposeful misreading of Betty Friedan where we all went “I respect choices” Respecting choices basically means we have poor support for parents who work (or don’t) Market failure.

          1. Jennifer McFadden

            Clearly, not all women have the choice to work or stay home with their children. That is obvious and goes without saying. The statement that I made about choice was directly relevant to my stay-at-home mom friends here–where it is a choice. One is a Mt. Holyoke/Yale-educated MD who has chosen to stay home and raise her children. I respect that choice and stand by my original statement. You may not like the semantics, but I suspect that you can parse out the difference.

          2. ShanaC

            Nope – I actually have a fundamental dislike of choice feminism. I’ve read too much Betty Friedan 🙂 The problem that has no name still exists.Supporting choices makes you a mensch – not a feminist. A feminist would ask the Yale MD why she did that – and if there was cultural pressure, then we got a problem (and I know plenty of women who are similar, or becoming similar, bucked to cultural pressure, and now places like my high school do have problems)

          3. Jennifer McFadden

            Of course I have had conversations with her about why she has decided to stay home. Many times, over many bottles of wine :)Trying to define someone else’s beliefs based on one set of constructs in a world that is constantly changing is one way to splinter support for a movement. We’ve seen that happen time and again with regard to feminism–to deleterious effect. I am most certainly a feminist–maybe not by your terms, but to the core.I am happy to discuss other points in my comment, but really feel like we should agree to disagree with this and move on. I respect your opinion, I just don’t agree with it.

    3. Carrie Mantha

      Thank you for this @jenmcfadden:disqus – you put it beautifully! I would only add that I don’t think “shoot-em-up” games and sports are inherently more science/math/engineering oriented than princess games and dance classes. My four year-old niece has a princess obsession that she came to despite my sister’s valiant attempts at keeping everything pink out of the house, and trust me, fighting it is an exercise in futility. Christmas shopping this year was an enlightening experience in that regard – it was almost impossible to find “building” toys frilly enough to capture a four year old princess’ attention (love the idea of GoldiBlox, think the product is a bit bland). A knock-off lego set of a castle was a huge hit though (we even rigged a moat out of some erector set pieces stolen from her brother’s set) and she’s obsessed with some basic ‘programming’ of new outfits for a Disney princess page. I think we’re leaving a lot on the table not catering early games and toys to a diverse interest set.

      1. Jennifer McFadden

        We totally went through a princess phase in our house! And, both girls love to dance. I’m all for it. We just balance it with an emphasis on math (gotta love Vi Hart and Kahn Academy) and science and sports. Also, I do think that some of the traditional crafts that I was taught when I was younger–sewing, knitting, etc.–are relevant to building the type of mind that programming requires. You’re taught a certain way to do things and then many ways to turn these instructions on their head to create something totally different. The craft kits that include arduinos and other electronics can be a great way to merge the two interests when girls get older.Oh, and have your sister check out (I should have mentioned it originally). It is amazing and is, in my opinion, the single greatest resource out there right now for kids to start dabbling in a range of amazing projects that can encourage an interest in science, math, sewing, technology. My older daughter is obsessed and was even interviewed for an NPR story on it :)…

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Sewing and knitting are *extremely* relevant. Making your own patterns is practically programming :)Thanks for the link to!

    4. Richard

      There may be another reason why most teenage girls don’t code at 14. It is the same reason they don’t game at 14.

    5. JLM

      .Extraordinary insights and thoughts. Thank you for articulating them so well.Well played.JLM.

    6. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Wow. Well said.

    7. laurie kalmanson

      Yes: with so much, “this is our treehouse fort, no girls allowed,” smart girls make their own treehouse

  51. Billy___Bob

    Why is it a crime for there to be more men than women programming? Women dominate undergraduate slots in most universities.The feminazis won’t rest until the only professions men are allowed to dominate are the lower-payed ones.

    1. ShanaC

      I wouldn’t say that’s the crime. The reason I want more women in the field has to do with what happens after that happens. As more women enter a field, the field becomes more family friendly. Which is good for men too, especially because many men my age want to be there for their kids.My mom had been coding I think for over 30 years. She also missed my birthday when I was 7 for a code release. If I remember correctly, I swore that I would find a job without a computer after that. (that didn’t happen)

      1. Billy___Bob

        Have you ever considered that the term “family friendly” really is anti-male? There are male traits (not exclusive of course) like working long hours to provide for ones family (or just because men like to work sometimes), And the current trend to belittle male traits in favor of female one is very sexist.

        1. ShanaC

          Yes, except one of the big drivers for 5 generations of Carps* to start companies was o be family friendly*Mostly men mind you…though the women too

  52. dgerhardt21


  53. laurie kalmanson

    Related: a man named Kim adds Mr. to his resume and instantly receives more interest from employers

  54. PrometheeFeu

    As an engineer who is considering having kids in the near future, that question is indeed very top of mind for me. I could never get my sister, my girlfriends or my wife really interested in computers but I want to make sure that if I have a daughter, she will feel daddy’s career is just as much an option as mummy’s career. I have ideas, but I’m not sure how to effectively counteract the rest of the world.

  55. drhowarddrfine

    We could beat them into submission. And I’m sure the number of female welders is insufficient so why aren’t we working on that, too? Are women so incapable that we have to lead them around by the nose to get them to do jobs they obviously don’t want to do in general? Or are most people here being sexist with that point of view?On that thought, why is no one taking up the flag for equal numbers of male seamsters?

  56. peteridah

    PG is an influential figure, however we are not strung to his opinion; if anything we need to teach our sons and daughters how not to be hung up on other people’s opinion. Honing this skill will lend itself to coding ( which I do think every kid should grasp the basics of ), business and every facet of life

  57. marketingthemuse

    This is terrific-I raised 3 girls and saw what middle and junior high does to their sense of self. These years are so critical for young minds, girls and boys. For girls to ‘lean back’ because of some archaic societal norm that says girls should dumb down for some damn reason will (and does) impact the rest of their lives. There’s so much ‘starting up’ & ‘founding’ to do that is female-centric, I hope girls are hearing this out there. I sure am doing my best to spread this cautionary news that girls really CAN’T afford to lean back anymore.

  58. ashleykaysmoore

    I feel bad for Paul Graham too and I do think it was misinterpreted, but I do think it’s good that this conversation is being discussed so widely. I think the best thing for him to do is to reach out and apologize and engage with women in tech and help organizations that help women in tech to demonstrate his wishes to change things moving forward. I am a women in tech and I work to empower other girls (and boys) to learn what I have learned and much more and there is nothing more fulfilling than empowering others.

  59. candice

    These comments are depressing.The pipeline does start sooner, and supporting the 40+ is not going to help that.Avoiding the “active discouragement” of parents and guidance counselors is crucial; as is simply making it okay for girls to tinker and take stuff apart. I mean, I was handed a screwdriver and pointed in the direction of a broken VCR at age five, and I was around to help repairing stuff around the house all the time too.I’ve spent the last few years in a state school CS dept; the girls we get are very often picked up from other sciences, and they can, and do, catch up just fine, but most of them feel like they wasted their time getting a first degree because no-one encouraged them to do CS.


    Gadgeteer! I have to chime in..First off wrong approach. Too many lives are ruined by outside people dabbling in them when not asked..I think the correct approach, if the goal is to help others, is to ask “What do *you* want to do?” Then help the person, as much as possible, to make it happen. That doesn’t mean the helper should forego living their life. But the point is that it’s dangerous to push people in any direction other than the one they are passionate about..Next I can’t stand separating people by gender or things other than behavior but we’ll have to because that’s the post topic. A person’s interests must develop internally and not be forced by others..I know. I have struggled with people all my life wanting me to be in the labor force and ignoring my desires to follow the serial start up path. I’ve had people trick me ignore me and otherwise mistreat me all for the sake of trying to get me to follow what they deem the *right* path for me..So to the topic. If women don’t gravitate toward science and technology so be it. Don’t do anything to force them. All you can do is let them know it’s there. Then if they become interested help them but don’t try to coerse them in any way..What supporting evidence other than my own experience can I sight? I think the best piece of evidence comes from the world of the entrepreneur. Entrepreneur’s are always looking for opportunity. The look at resources and unserved markets to find opportunity to create something great..Women or anyone’s passion is the opportunity. If it’s not in science and technology then it’s in something else. Point is don’t waste the opportunity to help them take advantage of their passion..So, to wrap up, I would say the best thing for us to do is ask “What do *you want* to do?” If women say things other than sci-tech that’s fine!.Just my view. I hope it helps people to understand better.

  61. Guest

    This is why people who care about fostering nextgen female innovation should also support GoldieBlox alongside Girls who Code etc:*

    1. panterosa,

      While Goldieblox brings gears to girls, it can do more and is a product which needs a lot of development to make an impact. LittleBits is moving the needle forward faster. But they’re not the only game in town.

  62. panterosa,

    @fredwilson:disqus After much pondering of this post and the comments, I feel this argument boils down to something simpler and more profound – that girls and women need to Take More Risks.They need support from men and women alike to do so, and without their taking risks, all the efforts to educate them, in CS or coding are lost in the wind.If we educate women better, it is a step in the right direction. We know women’s education is the single most effective antidote to poverty. If we support girls and women taking risks, educated risks and ones that shoot from the gut, then we make progress.You support this Fred, actively, as a verbal advocate, and with funds you donate and pledge personally and professionally. You want more women to come though the doors of USV and elsewhere? Support those risk-taking women, at every age of their journey. They will bring up the women and girls who look up to them along the way.

  63. Jules Maltz

    Fred – Thanks for the important post. My wife actually took a position as the Chief Growth & Strategy Officer for Techbridge (http://www.techbridgegirls…., a non-profit in the Bay Area that helps inspire girls (often in minority/low-income neighborhoods) pursue future careers in STEM. It’s not purely CS, but girls are losing interest in science/math broadly starting in middle school.

    1. fredwilson

      That is awesome. We have some programs like that in NYC and they are badly needed

  64. fredwilson

    I won’t and have never linked to a paid site on AVC. Not to WSJ either.

  65. Kirsten Lambertsen

    The dustup happened largely as a result of this report on the interview:

  66. pointsnfigures

    Unfortunately, they aren’t majoring in engineering or math. More of the softer majors. The US cranked out approx 240K of hard science majors last year out of every US kid that graduated from college. That’s paltry (and why we need immigration reform)

  67. LE

    Hey Paul what’s with the 70’s porn star look?

  68. ShanaC

    Welcome back! And what is this media training you speak of

  69. Semil Shah

    Media Training is always a good idea, especially if one seeks a higher profile.

  70. pointsnfigures

    By age 40, many women are done having children and the kids they have are enrolled in school. They have time to devote to building a business.

  71. ShanaC

    Yes. Ironically enough, if you chose the opposite, you’d probably make more money.Lets put it this way: My best friend is my only female friend who coded pre-college in a serious way*. I know plenty of other women who code, including some who are getting phds in CS. I’ve also accidentally sat around CS majors discussions of jobs: Everyone wanted to know where they could go for the long term and have kids. Very few were saying “let’s start a company”. I expect that number to go up post kids.*Apparently it was part of her curriculum at her science high school in Romania.

  72. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I had my first kid at 41 🙂 Just sayin.

  73. Sofia Fenichell

    Agree wholeheartedly. Time and passion. A new found passion that one hasn’t felt since pre kids.

  74. Donna Brewington White

    This may be a Midwestern perspective. Most of my clients/friends there who are my age have kids who are 5 – 10 years older than mine.What I can say though is that having kids makes me more driven. Not only to provide but to blaze a path.

  75. Sofia Fenichell

    its all cool!

  76. pointsnfigures

    you are an outlier. most women have their kids by the time they are 40. It used to be they had them younger (20-30), now they have them later (30-40)

  77. laurie kalmanson

    right there with youmany professional women in our generation either had kids late or not at allcurious about the next generation: will they do it younger, and have it behind them, or wait?

  78. ShanaC

    either way – by 50 your kids need you less

  79. JimHirshfield

    Speak for yourself kid.

  80. CJ

    Keep the lies to a minimal, just read your interviewAnd can’t help but ask what’s gotten into dudeMedia training but he don’t know how that goIt help you come across not soundin like an ASSHOLE-Joe Budden “All Of Me”

  81. PhilipSugar

    I am just saying easier when you are young because you don’t know what you don’t know. Of course now that I’m older I think its ten times easier.

  82. Emac

    I think it´s easier to START when you are younger but pass that, successfully running a business is equally hard.

  83. Kirsten Lambertsen


  84. LE

    Older easier of course and harder as well.You have more to lose (money, ego etc.) you also know what to be afraid of that you don’t even know when you are younger. You know how hard some things are. [1]There is a “survivorship bias” toward the young people that make it (“lucky sperm”) so I think people don’t realize all the shit that can go wrong if you don’t know certain things or have certain skills.Fortunately, many of those things can be papered over with enough money and that is a big advantage of the young people today who are taking funding and making mistakes. Money floats most boats, right? Not to mention not having to actually earn revenue.Try to be the guy starting the pizza restaurant with his own money and house on the line and not be able to literally make any mistakes and have very little cash cushion. Becomes a whole different ball game, right?My point is that people shouldn’t mistake luck of not getting hit by a car when crossing a street (not everyone will get hit, right?) for some special skill that young people actually have.I remember very distinctly my thought process when starting my second business and having to not only hire people (and knowing what a bitch that was) as well as having something to lose if I was wrong about something. (Dylan).



  86. LE

    “despite some of the shit that comes out of his mouth.”Two things come to mind:a) You will never get ahead in life if you are trying to run a popularity contest. Because you will never be able to please everyone all the time. So you might as well just go with what you think is best and let the chips fall where they do. After making “smart” decisions of course as to the outcome of your actions in each case. I mean I definitely try to be popular with people who pay me money.b) Life and comedy is about taking chances. If you don’t take chances in comedy or in life you won’t make people laugh and you won’t make any money. It’s really that simple. Some of the things that I can make people laugh with are the most bizarre. I immediately liked my new father in law when he said the most bizarre socially unacceptable statement the very first time I met him.If you want to blend into the background and not be anyone that anyone cares about enough to take a jab at try a bland career like painting art in a studio all day or making music. [1][1] Note use of “a” and “b”.

  87. sigmaalgebra

    There you go; there you go; picking on poor PG!He has a whole blog, HN, picking on him, and youjust pile on!Look, PG is fun reading. And for you that’s notenough? Why? What the heck more do youwant, no BS and always prudent, good sense?Gads! Such a CRITIC!What’s wrong with fun? You don’t like superhero movies either, where we see the badguys get it? You want only stark, rationalreality?Poor, poor PG!

  88. David Semeria

    Charlie, I think the point that PG is making regards the difference between being able to code and being a true hacker. It’s the difference between proficiency and passion.The former can be taught; the latter can’t.The majority of passionate hackers are male. This is very likely because they started tinkering in their early teens.Nobody made them tinker, they just did.This has implications for the various programs aiming to get more girls coding.The seed of passion can be planted from the outside, but only the individual can make it grow.

  89. Donna Brewington White

    That is the way of the entrepreneur… at any age.



  91. LE

    Charlie is quick with a joke and to light up your smoke. But he is also good with the drive by comment [1] for example saying “innacurate” without showing any backup for that.His characterization some time ago.

  92. sigmaalgebra

    But, but, but you are admitting that men andwomen are not exactly the same! Shame,shame! You will be drummed out of theFriedan Institute of Equality and condemned to wear knee length full skirts and cardigansweaters and spend all afternoons in aruffled apron baking from Betty Crocker!!!Sorry, I’m hungry for Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte,Caneton a l’Orange, Coquille Saint. Jacques Parisienne, a Caesar salad (right, from CA), a Sackertorte, etc., and somewhere in there a Chambertin!

  93. JamesHRH

    A lot of research shows that women only apply for jobs is the believe they can do the majority of the job already.Men apply when they think they can get the job or are interested in doing it. Being qualified is less of an internal hurdle.No one is really qualified to be an entrepreneur, so a lot of women – IMHO – self select out.

  94. ShanaC

    well, by 50 you probably can’t nurse 🙂

  95. sigmaalgebra

    > Of course men and women are not the same.That does it, Sandy! Now the Friedan Institutewill drum you out of the International Feminist Union! You have no choice — it’s cooking andcleaning for you from now on!At one time I cooked some of that food so thatI could eat it — no other way to eat it. It’s a lotof work to cook it.> I understand that most men are looking to keep the status quo with gender. You may be one of many.As I posted to ShanaC above, I paid my dues in the movement for equality of women. The effortwas a huge mistake that ended in head splittingdisaster.No. I tend to be protective of women and, in this case,just don’t want to see them hurt. I’ve seen far too many pains from women trying to ‘cross over’ intothe ‘work of men’.YMMV: There is wide variety in what women canand can’t do, but that seems to be from just asuperficial view. I have to expect that below thesurface there are some differences that are moreclear and fundamental; I just can’t explain the dataI’ve seen otherwise.

  96. JimHirshfield

    I never could.

  97. JamesHRH

    Sandy, this is a great point.He actually named the women he missed who turned out to be good investments and then he accurately portrayed their businesses as tech powered retail.If they were visionaries, it was in seeing how tech could provide them with an awesome retail startup.Nothing about Gilt Group is based on a fundamental technical insight.

  98. sigmaalgebra

    The old response from many mothers totheir daughters is that it’s as easy to fallin love with a rich man as a poor one!I believe that!Some men can say, “I’ve been rich, and I’vebeen poor. Rich is better.” I believe that.Why get married at all? E.g., if a woman has”options”, then maybe she doesn’t need a manand can “wash that man right out of her hair”.Yes, it did occur to me that if a woman has “options” and doesn’t have some pressingneed for a man, then why get married? Andfor the man, who doesn’t want the financial,legal, and emotional problems of a divorce,for himself or his children, he has to think thatthe girl has to really need him in some sensereally easy for both of them to see or he betternot marry her. Yes, and “Poor boys don’t marryrich girls.”. I’ve wondered if any man shouldmarry a rich girl. When I’ve seen rich womenin movies or popular music mess up their lives,I’ve thought that they would have been better offpoor, married to a plumber, and with five children.It did occur to me that by the time a women haseight children, finally she becomes devoted toher children and their home, and Mother Naturewants her to devote herself to the children shehas instead of leaving the marriage with the chancesof having more children. So, by eight, finallyMother Nature is more interested in the birds inthe hand than the ones in the bush.And I did notice that the world of parenting has changed a lot in just the last 150 years. E.g.,Gustav Mahler’s mother had maybe 12 kids,but only a few of them lived to adulthood. Still,with 12 kids, she was very BUSY. And she didn’thave much in ‘options’.I learned the hard way that the old men’s questionof “What does a woman want” is difficult to answer.I long guessed at various answers. I did see a lot of women for whom it seemed they didn’t knowwhat they wanted. One of the guesses was thatwomen got easily bored and then wanted a ‘MAKEover’, for their car, clothes, house, furnishings, man, etc. So, they wanted something ‘new anddifferent’, People seem to recognize this sincein the original Disney ‘Cinderella’ the two sisterswere an example — they kept throwing awaygood clothes for no good reason.So, I guessed that women were like a Mexican jumping bean that just jumped for no good reason until it got stuck in a crack — statistically a better place to sprout a root that might reach water. So, thebeans and women just kept jumping for nogood reason at all until they got into a situationwhere they were in some sense ‘stuck’. Thesituation Mother Nature wants is that they arepregnant. So, three years after the last newlove or new baby, in order to have more babies, they jump. That mechanismfits a lot of real data. So, right, I had a toughtime figuring out what a woman wants.Finally I read a book my brother recommendedby E. Fromm, ‘The Art of Loving’. There he says, roughly, from memory, “The fundamentalproblem in life is getting (a feeling of) securityin face of the anxiety we get from our realizationthat alone we are vulnerable to the hostile forcesof nature and society. Only four responseshave been found, love of spouse, love of God,membership in a group, and orgiastic behaviorwith sex, drugs, and alcohol to suppress theanxiety.My conclusion was that the best reason for loveand marriage was to be joined with a spouseso that would not be alone and, thus, would befree from the anxiety.Yes, Fromm didn’t mention being wealthy; I suspectthat in part he was wrong. But I can admit that I’veseen too many wealthy men with storybook weddingsto drop dead gorgeous girls, where the men lovedthe girls beyond all belief, and where by five yearsthe two had lawyers fighting each other as viciouslyas possible. The wives had a terrific life style,say, a Saturday clothes shopping trip for $50,000.What the men did wrong, I don’t know. What thewomen wanted and didn’t have, I don’t know. Thatthings would have been better with less moneyaround, I don’t know and would have a tough timeunderstanding.But the men were not clinical psychologists andwere not able to fathom the thoughts and emotionsof their wives to find what was wrong and how tosolve it.Some of what I saw is that a wife could find a manand marry him for whatever reasons, maybe becausehe was wealthy, made her laugh, had high statusfriends, passion, etc., had one or more children,and by the time the youngest child was in thesecond grade saw nothing to do and wanted a divorce to pursue her “own life” or retired to herown bedroom with a continual flow of chocolatecandy, some dogs, or her really good friendsJim Beam and Jack Daniels. My guess was thatMother Nature wanted kids, got some, and otherwise was uninterested. In some other casesthe women wanted to get security from praise,acceptance, and approval from the public fromdedicating their lives to save the world, whales,rivers, environment, etc., struggled, gave up,and got a divorce or retired to their ownbedroom. E..g., Betty Friedan had a great situation there in a house, with kids, in Long Island, concluded that she had somesevere problem with “no name”, and wrotea screed that sabotaged much of US marriageand family formation for decades.I haven’t see much in marriages that looked likethey were working for the long term. There issome data that says that something is fundamentallywrong: We are going extinct. Literally. Finlandis a good example since on average one womenhas only 1.5 children. Do the arithmetic: In 10generations 30 Finns will become about 1.Darwin stands to win this one: Women who arenot strong limbs on the tree will have their genesout of the gene pool, and what will be left arewomen who, by whatever means, are good atparenting, i.e., are strong limbs.For now, I don’t know a solution easier than Darwin’s.But I’ve seen a lot of women and families hurtby women wanting to be ‘equal’ and do ‘men’swork’ and to regard marriage and motherhoodas “giving up the best years of her life and her career to do low grade, menial, scut work to raise some man’s children”. Maybethe husbands didn’t praise their wives enough for what they did with the children that was good.Although I don’t know what women want anddon’t know how to design a good marriage,I have seen a lot of women hurt, don’t likeit, and advise women to be careful.

  99. David Semeria

    With respect Charlie, I think you’re missing the point, which is simply that – at least in the past – boys tinkered with tech / mechanical things more than girls.Neither I (nor from my understanding PG) are getting into the why of that, we’re just stating a fact.Stating the fact doesn’t imply condoning the fact – which, I believe, is the root of the misunderstanding.If teenage tinkering does indeed increase the likelihood of becoming a true hacker, and if startups need at least one hacker on the team, then it flows logically that less female tinkering leads to less female founders.This is just an explanation of why there are fewer female founders framed within the context of early exposure to programming.There is no suggestion that this is in any way good – it’s just a possible explanation as to the way it is.

  100. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Fair warning: next time I see you, I’ll probably hug you 😉

  101. panterosa,

    @ccrystle:disqus Some girls schools I know (private, NYC primarily, but there are others) Leave blocks in the classroom for the girls to jam with. Usually, because the block corner at preschool was boy dominated. The girls fought to play, got bored and left.I disagree it’s only teen years @davidsemeria when kids tinker. I disagree that when they become makers and coders, it’s happening the whole way thru school, and at home.I have a hard time with this entire discussion (of girls coding – which I support). I have a 12.5 yr old girl who is a Scratch master, and who has asked to learn how to code. Maybe it’s just from her, from inside, maybe it’s because she has a startup mom, so from outside. We are not losing the battle at our house. The battle is being lost Out There, wherever that is.I still say, and will soon sound like a broken record, that preschool is where structural thinking starts, and that’s why I design for kids as soon as they can speak and make.

  102. Guest

    Yeah I’m pretty certain I’m not missing the point. @MsPseudolus:disqus might be able to help.

  103. 209670938609387

    This may be a male perspective (I can’t help it, I am one after all): why does having kids matter when they’re grown and gone versus not having them? A unmarried single woman without kids should be as able to code as readily as a 40-50 something with an empty nest. Life experience is it’s own weight: anyone at a given age is richer in knowledge than a younger prior version of yourself, whether kids are involved in that experience or not. (Not saying that child rearing is less worthy, just different.)An exceptional woman would code even with kids present in her house: it’s just you and a computer: family distractions are a known issue, but given no time constraints on completion and you own your project, what’s the issue? Forgive the sexist overtone for a moment: domestic arts are enhanced by families in participation, why not software? (Children and teens as alpha testers!)I feel the problem is nurture-centric as opposed to nature. Men aren’t simply born programmers. Neither are women. Inspiration to code right now has more weight in men than it does in women, which can be changed.

  104. 209670938609387

    I think the fact that groups like Girls Who Code have to exist in the first place is evident that women are more discouraged than men into taking chances in this field than in anywhere else.And it’s a cultural problem, too:





  107. Sofia Fenichell

    I agree. Happy New Year. This blog post has been addictive and I have to sign off! To a happy and productive year for all!