Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?
One weekday morning in 2007, Bethanye Blount came into work early to interview a job applicant. A veteran software engineer then in her 30s, Blount held a senior position at the company that runs Second Life, the online virtual world. Good-natured and self-confident, she typically wore the kind of outfit—jeans, hoodie, sneakers—that signals coding gravitas. That day, she might even have been wearing what’s known as the “full-in start-up twin set”: a Second Life T-shirt paired with a Second Life hoodie.
In short, everything about her indicated that she was a serious technical person. So she was taken aback when the job applicant barely gave her the time of day. He knew her job title. He knew she would play a key role in deciding whether he got hired. Yet every time Blount asked him a question about his skills or tried to steer the conversation to the scope of the job, he blew her off with a flippant comment. Afterward, Blount spoke to another top woman—a vice president—who said he’d treated her the same way.
Obviously Second Life wasn’t going to hire this bozo. But what the heck: He was here, and they had a new employee, a man, who needed practice giving interviews, so they sent him in. When the employee emerged, he had an odd look on his face. “I don’t know what just happened,” he said. “I went in there and told him I was new, and all he said was he was so glad I was there: ‘Finally, somebody who knows what’s going on!’ ”