I’m sure you heard about the controversy surrounding TechWeek yesterday. This is the type of thing that could have easily gone unnoticed without a few people speaking out. I’ll admit, without more closely examining the TechWeek flyer, I probably would have scrolled right past it. We’re all so accustomed to moving so fast. Looking the other way. Not speaking out.
As the recently named CEO of EVENTup, I am proud to be part of the Lightbank portfolio, where I started more than seven years ago with Echo Global Logistics, and then onto Groupon and now here. I won’t say I haven’t seen gender discrimination happen–but I will say that this environment, this group of people, puts more value on intelligence, drive, and hard-work more than any other group I have encountered in the startup world– or the business world for that matter.
I’ve heard a few people ask what is wrong with the image. And the image itself, as it were on the company’s Facebook page, is fine I guess. It shows beautiful young women at an event, having a good time. But in a time where we discuss women in tech not receiving equal funding, being given the same opportunities, and the lack of women coders and just lack of women in tech…using an image of pretty girls seems to represent more than just party goers. It signals that there will be pretty women at an event for the benefit of the mostly male attendees. It’s objectification– and the fact that it was not intended is the source of the entire problem. I have no doubt those were not the intentions of the people at TechWeek. And before we can point fingers, I think we need to examine our own actions.
1) Question / Examine. When I look at ads, memes, photos used in marketing by companies I want to work with…I tend to look for creativity and humor. But I am making an effort to look for signals that the company didn’t put thought first into what message the imagery and words are sending?
2) Act / Mentor. If you see something, say something (just like the TSA). Help guide the next generation by speaking out and getting involved. An internship program at your company is always a great way to teach people the ropes and help guide the next generation.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Gandhi, who once said ‘Be The Change That You Want To See In The World.’ I encourage everyone to apply this principle in their lives!