The hyper-gendering of women in Silicon Valley is predictable and awful

Women in tech are always female-first. No matter where they go, they’re the face of women in tech, even where they don’t want to be, writes Nellie Bowles at The Guardian:

The Silicon Valley season premiere panel was eight men and one woman, and anyone could predict what would happen.

The interviewer onstage asked each man questions about the popular HBO show satirizing Silicon Valley’s tech boom. He asked the creator, Mike Judge, what inspired the show; asked a main character whether he knew it would be such a hit; asked an actor how much his comedic riffs got into the final cut. And then he turned to the one woman on stage, Amanda Crew:

“So Amanda, what is it like – this show is obviously a lot of guys – what’s your experience as an actress in this type of situation and also representing the females of Silicon Valley here?”

There it is.

I’ve never felt more gendered than since I started covering tech. I certainly like being a woman, but I wouldn’t consider it my primary identifier or interest. In Silicon Valley, one does not have that luxury. A woman in Silicon Valley, even one who’s just visiting for the night, is very specifically female – representative of women and there to talk about women. It’s by dint of scarcity (how odd to find her there!) but it’s deeper than that.

Monica Rogati, a data scientist, coined something she called the Bechdel test for tech conferences. It is a measure of whether women are truly being represented at an event. The requirements: 1) two women speaking 2) on the same panel 3) not about women in tech.

After covering tech for five years, I think I’ve seen it maybe twice. More typical is something akin to the upcoming Paypal panel called “Gender Equality and Inclusion in the Workplace”, which boasts a grand total of four men and zero women.

 

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