Good news for women working in tech: sexism just isn’t much of a problem in your field. Yes, I know, your colleagues are leaving in their droves, studies have repeatedly shown a huge gender imbalance, and when you go to industry shows you’re too often treated like an honorary booth babe (also, there are booth babes). But according to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, there’s no need to even think about gender issues when you’re working in technology.
In an interview with Medium’s Backchannel, Mayer was asked whether she thought a male CEO would have been put under the same amount of scrutiny as she has. Instead of screaming ‘Hell no,’ she skirted the question, saying she doesn’t like to play ‘the gender card’ and that ‘There are probably industries where gender is more of an issue, but our industry is not one where I think that’s relevant.’ (I’d love to see a list of the industries where it’s more of an issue – just to make sure I never end up working in one.)
As The Mary Sue points out, it’s understandable that a woman at the top of a male-dominated field wouldn’t want to talk about sexism. Male CEOs get to just be themselves, not representatives of their entire gender, and Marissa Mayer doubtless wants the same thing. Plus, her presence proves that women can succeed in tech, even despite the institutional barriers against us.
But the fact is, she is a rarity, and one who’s been criticised for her childcare and praised for her appearance as if either has anything to do with her job. She’s also faced off with lecherous shareholders (top tip, guys: ‘I’m a dirty old man’ is one of the worst conversation openers of all time). So it’s disappointing that she refuses to acknowledge the disparity in her industry, but it’s also disappointing that male CEOs rarely acknowledge it or attempt to do anything to change it, either.
Image by Max Morse for TechCrunch, via Wikimedia Commons.