This debate, often (in my world) framed by anger and shock over the under-representation of women in technology, keeps popping up, like some sort of endless game of whack-a-mole.

A few years ago the pot was stirred by a speakers’ group who didn’t include a single woman on their roster of social media/tech thought leaders.

Last week, it was a startup incubator in Montreal that had 85 male members and not one woman listed as participants at launch.

I continue to be amazed at the “blissful ignorance” out there (that’s often how the resulting apologies are worded – the excuse that’s often given is that “women are hard to find” – here’s a helpful link for that one.) but honestly, I’m sick to death of the discussion. In fact, I think the discussion is all wrong, and if we want to get through the glass ceiling (or whatever you want to call this stubborn mindblock), I think it’s time to re-frame it.

The issue here is not boys vs. girls – it’s diversity. Study after study after study (and book after book, whitepaper after whitepaper) has shown that more diverse environments (that is, environments where there are not only really smart people, but really smart people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints) are more innovative. Diverse environments get better results.

Logic would indicate that if you don’t think about all forms of diversity when you’re assembling your team/club/incubator/roster/advisory board, you are at a significant competitive disadvantage, especially in a space moving as fast as this one.

In other words: if you don’t think diversity is important, you are, frankly, an idiot.

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4 Comments

  1. james

    Yes, the energy is pretty low when everybody is a clone. Diversity is important, balancing all the differences, or at least being aware of them counts too. One of the link didn’t go where I thought it would. In general, the women I worked with have been on par above the men, I mean there are some obvious exceptions, but there is no slack on either side if you ask me.

  2. Your company (especially in marketing) should reflect your society. If your job is to attract, market or understand a diverse group you MUST reflect that within your organization.

    @AndrewFstewart

  3. This is the post I was about to write this morning after talking about this all week. Thanks for writing it.
    When I graduated from engineering 18 years ago I never would have imagined we would still be having this conversation. And yet, here we are.
    For what it’s worth, I do think this most recent flare-up has had some positive outcomes. The folks at FounderFuel (the incubator you reference) have added some women to their mentor list and I’m happy to be among them.
    And speaking of diversity – a small group of us have also started a site that will be a resource to highlight interesting folks of all backgrounds, men and women, in the Toronto Tech scene. Details are here http://wearetotech.tumblr.com/
    I figure in another 18 years we might have this all sorted out :)
    April @aprildunford

  4. Thank you for this article. I re-posted it here and cited a study by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission:
    http://www.inclusiontoinnovation.com/2011/06/inclusion-to-innovation-what-is-sane.html

    I believe your conclusion is still up for debate among many corporate executives. Innovation, Diversity & Inclusion professionals should continuously test and validate that primary demographic differences (e.g., age, race, ethnicity, gender, etc) affect diversity of thought in a manner that fuels innovation.

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