Jun 30, 2017

Women in tech share advice for solving Silicon Valley's sexism

Courtesy of Y Combinator

After a week of upsetting headlines about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, there's an undeniable theme as woman after woman took the stage at Y Combinator's Female Founders Conference in San Francisco. Being a woman in tech is hard — but there's some hope.

Why it matters: As a minority in the tech industry, women often shy away from speaking up for fear of losing out on opportunities to get a job, raise funding, or thrive in the Silicon Valley. But in recent months, after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler (who was in attendance at the conference) and several female entrepreneurs went public with their accounts of harassment and discrimination, there's a sense of small progress in the tech industry.

Some speakers addressed the recent news about Binary Capital's treatment of women and Uber's workplace issues directly on stage.

"I'm pretty pissed off but I think we have to use it — we can't just be mad — we have to use it as an opportunity to be constructive," said Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee. "And i don't think that this story is over. I think more sad stories will come out over the coming weeks about behavior in the industry that's unprofessional and unacceptable that will piss us off even more," she added.

Others took the time to thank the women who went public with their stories that triggered an entire industry to pay attention. "I cannot thank them enough, they're my heroes," said Y Combinator co-founder Jessica Livingston in her opening remarks.

The hard truth: Many shared their own stories and lessons about being a minority in a male-dominated industry.

"In the last year my attitude has changed — it's naive to think that if you work so hard you won't be discriminated against," said Shippo co-founder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu. "If you just look at that, nothing has changed," said Nio CEO Padmasree Warrior, who was previously Cisco's CTO. "The fact that we're speaking up is a change — that, I'm very proud of."
"It's happened to most women in this room and we just eat it," said Lee.

And of course, there was great advice.

"Dont ask for permission," advised Blavity founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun. "There's all this data and all these numbers that say that we shouldn't exist. If you looked at the data you literally wouldn't go outside."
"Why should we be making money for assholes?" asked Lee, adding that hopefully entrepreneurs and other investors can steer founders towards firms that are inclusive and don't misbehave.
Lee's advice: "Be confident but don't stretch -- if you're a little too arrogant they will ding you for being an exaggerator. Know your numbers -- women will get dinged for not being quantitative enough. Be good at following up."

Go deeper

Coronavirus stress tests drug industry's dependence on China

A Hong Kong commuter wears a face mask. Photo: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It's unclear whether the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus will actually result in prescription drug shortages, but it has undoubtedly highlighted the potential vulnerabilities of having the supply chain for American drugs so dependent on China.

Driving the news: About 150 prescription drugs — including antibiotics, generics and some branded drugs without alternatives — are at risk of shortage if the coronavirus outbreak in China worsens, per two sources familiar with a list of at-risk drugs compiled by the Food and Drug Administration.

Go deeperArrow53 mins ago - Health

Bernie's path to the presidency

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks yesterday during a rally at Houston University. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Lots of Democrats are in full panic that Bernie Sanders will win the nomination and get clobbered in the general election — and bring the party down, too. But the evidence, particularly the polling, doesn't back those doomsday warnings.

Why it matters: Virtually every national and swing state poll shows Sanders tied with or beating President Trump.  And, unlike every rival, he has a huge base of fervent, unshakable supporters he can only grow.

These swing voters don't like Trump’s environmental rollbacks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Swing voters in four battleground states decisively oppose President Trump’s sweeping rollbacks of environmental regulations — but it’s unlikely to sway their votes.

Why it matters: It’s voters living in states like these, including Florida and Pennsylvania, who fill pivotal roles electing America’s presidents, so we should listen.