Sexism, as we are repeatedly reminded, is particularly pervasive in the world of tech. And so a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed addressing discriminatory hiring practices against women in the industry might at first blush seem like a welcome addition to the conversation surrounding equal pay and hostile work environments — but only before you read it. Instead, the venture capitalist author suggests that women can get ahead by disguising the fact that they aren't, well, men.
"[Women] in today’s tech world should create an online presence that obscures their gender," writes John Greathouse, a partner at Rincon Venture Partners. "A gender-neutral persona allows women to access opportunities that might otherwise be closed to them. Once they make an initial connection with a potential employer or investor, such women then have an opportunity to submit their work and experiences for an impartial review."
Got that? But wait, there's more.
"I would suggest that if you are a woman raising capital, you might consider not including photos of your team in your pitch deck," continues Greathouse. "If you identify your team via their initials (men and women), you effectively strip out all preconceptions related to race, ethnicity and gender. In your LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, email address and online correspondence use your initials (or a unisex name) and eliminate photos."
Hmm, I wonder what actual women think of this man's idea?
Women applying for tech jobs:— Melody Joy Kramer (@mkramer) September 29, 2016
1. Use initials.
2. Don't smile
3. Wait, no. Smile.
4. But not that much.
5. Never blink.
Ladies! Your names are scary to men, use initials instead so they don't have to be intimidated by your intelligence https://t.co/Gn1D7jT1MK— (((Steph Haberman))) (@StephLauren) September 28, 2016
Why women should consider wearing fake mustaches and lowering the tone of their voices at work: https://t.co/D3DMxGM0tO— Sarah Kessler (@SarahFKessler) September 29, 2016
Or, just in case Greathouse needs a man to say it:
Woman on the internet: why not just be men?— ian ownbey (@iano) September 29, 2016
Greathouse himself, as The Verge points out, doesn't actually have the best record when it comes to supporting women in the world of Silicon Valley. The 39 companies in Rincon Venture Partners's funding portfolio have a total of 72 founders — only four of which are women.
Update: John, it seems, is having second thoughts.
"I apologize for the dreadful article I wrote in the WSJ," he tweeted this afternoon. "I told women to endure the gender bias problem rather than acting to fix the problem. I hurt women and I utterly failed to help, which I wholly regret and apologize for having done. Women have a tough enough time having their voices heard and my insensitive comments only made matters worse. I am truly sorry."