This weekend I was startled by a tweet from Margaret Wallace, a game industry executive whom I respect in New York.
Welcome to my world: She Was Harassed By A Games Reporter. Now She's Speaking Out. http://t.co/hVx638XBQc #onereasonwhy
— Margaret Wallace ♕ (@MargaretWallace) February 1, 2014
Margaret is referring to a series of unacceptable, appalling messages written to a woman in the games industry by a male reporter. He has since apologized, but that is not the point.
Susan Wu, an entrepreneur and investor whom I had the pleasure to work with at Opus360 and deeply respect, followed up with this tweet:
@giffco @MargaretWallace Not just in games, it's being a woman in tech, period. Welcome to my world, too.
— susan wu (@sw) February 1, 2014
This was a real WTF moment for me. When it comes to gender issues, my attention has been focused on getting young women into programming, and getting more awesome female speakers at events to diversify our role models. I want my daughter inspired by what we all do. And yet *this* is the environment she might expect?
I mean seriously, WTF is wrong with our industry that our female colleagues consider this commonplace?
I’ve been blessed to work with talented women in 5 of the 6 startups I’ve helped build, and many of these women had a lasting impact on how I think about business, teams, etc. I had never seen bad behavior at those firms, nor would it have been acceptable, but I’m starting to realize that this misogynistic or aggressive behavior is a bigger problem than I thought. It is clearly deeper than idiots being assholes anonymously on the Internet (which unfortunately happens on every topic under the sun).
I’m asking myself what can be done to shut this down on a bigger scale? In another tweet, Margarent wondered out loud, “I wonder what a 1-day walkout of all females in gaming & tech would look like. The industry would shut down”
Frankly, I think such a day is an interesting idea, and I would join it. It would be like a declaration of independence from assholes. I’m interested to know what else people are doing.
I am not naive enough to think that we can solve ignorance, bias, misplaced anger, and the like, but I would like every tech-related company, VC, and publication, to purge this nonsense from their ranks and keep it that way.
Our industry charts the future. It takes risks, blends creativity with action, and changes the world. It’s time to kick the cave man to the curb.