SiliCon Men

SiliCon Men

Now, that’s a book we’d like to see written and we do want credit for the title.

Dan Lyons put Silicon Valley’s bro culture back on the radar, and speaking of bro culture, Alicia Syrett (Pantegrion Capital) once referenced an article where two identical resumes were submitted to a hiring manager, one under a male name, the other under a female name. The hiring manager opted to meet with the male. Reason: he had stronger, more relevant experience.

What to speak of the fact that Men With 2 Years of Work Experience Earn More Than Women With 6.

Lyons (author of “Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble.” You remember him; we covered him in a piece about a year ago, when he was addressing ageism in tech) wrote an interesting OpEd piece (Jerks and the Start-Ups They Ruin) about Silicon Valley’s bro culture and the CE-Bros who run many of the companies if not the show. He seems to do a pretty good job at delineating the problem, stating that “That may finally change, if the people in charge of Silicon Valley — venture capitalists, who control the money — start to realize that the real problem with tech bros is not just that they’re boorish jerks. It’s that they’re boorish jerks who don’t know how to run companies.”

Uber’s Travis Kalanick is his case in point, and we’ve covered that ad nauseam.

Lyons defines Bro Culture as “a world that favors young men at the expense of everyone else. A “bro co.” has a “bro” C.E.O., or C.E.-Bro, usually a young man who has little work experience but is good-looking, cocky and slightly amoral — a hustler. Instead of being forced by investors to surround himself with seasoned executives, he is left to make decisions on his own.”

That’s part of it, and while Wall Street may have arguably gotten the ball rolling with its Old Boy Network, Silicon Valley has taken it to the next level, bro-kering a culture that took exclusion to a new level. Consider the anti-women forces at play:

  • Nerds – afraid of women/undersocialized
  • Bankers/VCs – Old Boy Network
  • So-called embracing diversity with the inclusion of primarily two cultures besides American – Chinese and Indian – both of which are virulently anti-female

So why does this persist? Says Lyons: “It may be because many of the venture capitalists are bros as well.”

You do need enablers. According to Lyons, “Venture capitalists used to be tech engineers who had made a bundle, retired early and took up investing in start-ups as a kind of white-shoe hobby. The new breed are competitive alpha males who previously might have gone to work as bond traders.”

In other words, former bros and C.E.-Bros. The circle goes unbroken, double entendre intended.

But Uber is trying to rectify its sexual harassment situation and in case you missed it, “Uber appointed one of its board members, Arianna Huffington, to join former attorney general Eric Holder and others to investigate the sexual harassment claims.” What Lyons missed was that this is the same Arianna Huffington who was sued by unpaid contributors to the HuffPo, after its purchase by AOL. Just a reminder of, perhaps, why she might have tapped, in particular, besides her gender, of course, and in the case of the HuffPo, the writers lost. Including some whom we know personally, so we were aware of what was promised prior to the sale – and what was done, post-sale. Ah, for the days when the press did their research, and we do realize that this is an op-ed piece, in this case.

Considering the list above (and let’s not forget the bros and C.E.-Bros themselves, and our thanks to Andy Harrison for his input), odds are hardly stacked in women’s favor. Lyons makes a good point when he says that it’s time for adult supervision, but it’s a tall order in the face of a vertical that values youth and where it seems the players refuse to grow up, in a culture where babes and balls just never grow old, which will chime in every now and again on rectifying the situation, re the treatment of women, putting on their very best poker faces, all the while knowing only all too who really holds all the cards. Onward and forward.

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