While there is talk of gender discrimination in the tech industry, not much has been done about it, at least until Venture Capital lawyer Ed Zimmerman decided to take a stand by refusing to sit on panels or go to conferences that were represented only by men, according to Fortune magazine.
In the year since Zimmerman announced publicly his intention to attend only if women were featured, he has found more praise than criticism for his move, but those who criticize his strategy ask him questions he thinks are a bit silly.
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First, he dismisses the claim that there are no qualified women. Second, he doesn’t advocate fixed quotas requiring firms to hire a certain amount of women, but the dearth of women does seem ridiculous. He told Fortune, “Zero (women) out of two, I can understand. Zero out of six or ten, I’m not sure I understand why. Zero out of 20 just sounds silly.”
While Zimmerman has not been told directly not to attend events, he has noticed that he has been discreetly dropped from a few invitation lists, “They’re all guys and they don’t want to have to worry about it.” But he has been increasingly invited to events which already feature women, and attendance grows, because more women come if they see him on the list and know there are going to be more women there.
Currently only 5.6% of venture capital decision makers are women, 14% of venture backed companies have a female founder and 19% are run by women. Around 50% of women say they leave the tech industry because of the hostile work environment.