While it has the spotlight on it for its upcoming monster IPO, Twitter could bring the entire Silicon Valley culture forward several steps when it comes to gender diversity in tech leadership positions, says Vivek Wadhwa, a Fellow at Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford Law School and Director of Research at Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University. And while the ongoing conversation got started with a weekend piece in The New York Times, it continues as we speak on Twitter, naturally.
When it comes down to it, says Wadhwa, who is co-authoring a crowdsourced book on women in technology, it’s ironic: “If Twitter had a woman on the board, it wouldn’t have been stupid enough to IPO without a woman on the board,” he tweeted this afternoon.
While Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s tweets to and about Wadhwa have been virtually 100 percent content-free, Wadhwa has posted several thoughtful follow-ups explaining why this is a real issue in Silicon Valley. In one at TechCrunch, he calls out “an echo chamber in Silicon Valley that hears only itself and shows a disregard for the people whom it derives revenue and investment from.”
In a video interview on Bloomberg TV, he repeats his term for the old boys’ club – the “mafia,” – and says, “It’s lose, lose, lose when you start excluding half of the population the way we are.”
Costolo has said that “checking the box” is simply an out when it comes to gender diversity in male-dominated areas, and that a supply problem exists, notwithstanding relatively young efforts like Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” movement to support females in their career and leadership goals. If Twitter does not respond to this challenge, will another influential Silicon Valley firm swoop in to do so and gather the accolades – and the scrutiny?