November 27, 2013

YEAH, I’D LISTEN TO HER ADVICE TO GROW THE ECONOMY: Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs.

In a cultural context where idealists have linked social media to democracy, egalitarianism, and participation, the tech scene in Silicon Valley considers itself to be exceptional. Supporters speak glowingly of a singularly meritocratic environment where innovative entrepreneurs disrupt fusty old industries and facilitate sweeping social change.

But if the tech scene is really a meritocracy, why are so many of its key players, from Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs, white men?

Why, indeed? Maybe because they don’t write stuff like this:

For instance, in her study of entrepreneurs, Helene Ahl found that in business discourse 70 percent of words used to describe entrepreneurs were male-gendered — these included “self-reliant”, “assertive”, “forceful”, “risk-taking”, “self-sufficient”, “leader”, “competitive”, and “ambitious”.

If you think “self-reliant” or “ambitious” are “male-gendered” then your prospects are poor . . . .

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