“Women are likely to bring diversity to a male founding team, and that’s not what founding teams need.” – Penelope Trunk on diversity
In a post entitled “Think about workplace diversity in terms of experience”, I mostly agree with Penelope that there are many different flavors of diversity (as it were). But in this recent article for TechCrunch she seems to argue against her own logic, making the case that diversity of idea/opinion in a startup is a bad thing (I do understand her point, that co-founders should be on the same page) to making the case that women should stop worrying about inclusion in the tech industry at all.
Where to begin. First, coupling ‘diversity of ideas’ with ‘diversity of sex’ is a mistake. Do women now think so differently than men that they need to be stripped of the right to vote, too? Lest, they derail democracy with all their hormones and need for family time? Nonsense.
The problem with the line of reasoning on display here is simple: If everyone in the industry began to think like this, the next time a female entrepreneur walked into the room to for funding, regardless of the quality of her idea or pitch, a VC might think, “I need to find a man to run this company, because this woman will sink it by having babies.” Or perhaps her customers, also using the same logic, would think to themselves, “I can’t trust a company run by a woman, they don’t even want to be doing this kind of work!"
There are a lot of people in the tech industry who don’t think diversity is a problem because either they can’t see, or can’t relate to, the fact that for every anecdotal observation of minority groups ‘not wanting to enter the space’ there are at least a handful from those groups who feel as if they are actively being kept out of the space.
History shows us that, at least occasionally, those who feel intentionally disenfranchised will be correct. That isn’t everyone’s experience, but is the experience if some. Someone with authority might decide these groups simply don’t belong and can wield their power to keep them from entering a field they actually *want* to be in.
My question is what happens when a brazen careerist women, like Penelope, is prevented from entering the industry they are pursing simply because it becomes accepted that diversity is a bad thing that needs to be avoided? When does it go from ‘diversity isn’t so great’ to ‘homogeny is preferred’?