Entrepreneurial spirit must be inclusive one

Entrepreneurial spirit must be inclusive one

This week, the design and entrepreneurial club Tech@NYU is hosting Startup Week, featuring a series of talks, workshops and events geared toward fostering Silicon Valley-esque entrepreneurial spirit on campus. Colleges are excellent places to learn new skills and collaborate with other entrepreneurs, and it is imperative that these clubs combat the twin issues of discrimination and lack of diversity in the technology sector.
Last month, interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao lost her gender discrimination suit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Even so, the case incited a much-needed conversation on
women in technology. It is the responsibility of small-scale entrepreneurial clubs in universities around the country to work toward eliminating problems of racism and sexism in tech circles.

Tech companies often blame the lack of diversity on the shortage of minorities with technical degrees. However, research shows that black and Hispanic students graduate with degrees in computer science and engineering at twice the rate that they are hired, suggesting that tech companies themselves are not committed to diversity. It is clear that addressing the gap in STEM education is not enough, as the problem extends into the workplace as well. Women in the tech industry are far less likely than men to receive venture capital, which is vital for funding startups. Accordingly, it is critical that NYU and other universities encourage female entrepreneurship.
There is a bottleneck preventing women and minorities from entering the tech industry, even after they achieve the necessary education. Groups such as HacKid and GirlsWhoCode prove that many young girls are interested in technology, the problems only develop later on in inherently sexist attitudes and workplace dynamics. More must be done to ensure women feel comfortable entering the tech sector, but the situation for women already working at startups must also be improved.
Startup Week is tackling some of these issues by hosting a panel discussion this Thursday titled “Discrimination in Tech: Some Constructive Criticism.” It will address the underrepresentation of females and minorities in the tech industry, as well as the creation of products with diverse appeal. These talks are critical for increasing awareness, but this type of discussion also must be integrated into other events in tech. Discrimination is a systemic problem in the tech industry — it will only decline with an increase in diversity. Tech@NYU clearly recognizes the problem, but as a college group it is uniquely poised to combat it.
Tech@NYU’s anti-harassment policy — banning language or actions that are sexist, racist or otherwise exclusive — is a step in the right direction for mitigating these problems. But more can be done. The stereotype of the young, Zuckerbergian white male entrepreneur is not only outdated, it is toxic. College is a time of growth, and this growth must come with an improvement in attitudes towards diversity.


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