Good article, makes great points. I’m a white male philosophy guy from Princeton myself, yet I flaunt geek credentials and am admitted to the halls of power. I’m not rolling in dough though, so don’t consider myself a VC… but I have friends that are.
STEM is a challenge because it brings together, in an abbreviation, a lot of stereotypes that have defined themselves against one another. Mathematicians cultivate a snootiness towards mere engineers that’s both childish and a sign of their professionalism. Technologists are merely “applied scientists” whereas we all know “theoretical physics” is more sexy and so on and on.
So all talk of gender aside, to wade into the STEM professions is to inherit a lot of cultural baggage, which one copes with using numerous strategies.
What I like to do is cliche by now: add the “A” to make it STEAM but then I prefer my “A” to mean Anthropology, not Art. The former encompasses the latter. Where women as well as men are needed in tech, is in studying our workflows and management styles from the standpoint of an anthropologist doing field research. More literature of that kind, especially given the phenomenon of open source development, is essential. STEAM anthropologists Amber Case (ESRI) and Louis Bucciarelli (Designing Engineers, MIT) come to mind as exemplary specimens (role models) in this regard.
Here in the Silicon Forest I think we have already come to this realization that we need better introspection at the organizational level and will not be taken by surprise at the influx of anthropologists in cahoots with upper management and the unions in some cases. We’re not just seeing more women, but more Islamic women, more Palestinians, more Vietnamese in tech professions.
The Silicon Forest is a melting pot, and the ethnic tensions and misunderstandings that might hamper productivity cut every which way, not just along gender lines. Which is why the word “diversity” must never be diluted to mean only “gender tensions” exclusively. Many tensions matter. I lump them together as “ethnic” as I think the concept of “race” is corrupt whereas “ethnicity” is real and the genders are typified by ethnic traits, not just physical ones.