Startup dudes: Cut the sexist crap

Posted: February 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Chitchat, Startups | 260 Comments »

Last week I was speaking on what would have otherwise been a terrific panel.  It was Frank Artale from Ignition, Tom Duterme from Groupon M&A, Andy Sack from Lighter Capital & Founder’s Co-op, and me talking about funding & exiting.  The only thing that spoiled it was yet another guy in the tech scene putting forth yet another objectifying/patronizing treatment of someone with two X chromosomes.

In this case, the recipient of the bogus intro was the panel moderator, Rebecca Lovell. Just in case anyone out there in startupland has not  met Rebecca, she’s one of the best-connected people in the Seattle tech scene, with a resume that includes leadership roles at the Alliance of Angels, NWEN, and now Geekwire.  These would all be appropriate topics to use when introducing someone, man or woman. Here’s what the man introducing Rebecca chose to say instead (you can listen to the full audio of the introduction for context):

Rebecca’s one of the smartest ladies I know, and I thought that she was a perfect pick for the role of moderator.  When we selected Rebecca and she said yes, she was a sexy single woman. And since that time, she’s become a sexy married woman, and so I wanted her lucky new spouse to stand up.  So we’ve got not only a very talented, but a happy moderator.

Come on, people.  Really?

This has been bugging me for a while.  I was coaching one team for Techstars Demo Day, and they had a photo of scantily clad women (that had nothing to do with their pitch) that I convinced them to strike.  Two months ago, a company I was coaching showed up for a meeting with me at Google and made a comment about the receptionist’s appearance.  Within earshot of her.

Everyone has a reason.  One person was older.  One person was from another country.  It just doesn’t matter.  If we keep this bullshit up, we’re going to crap all over another generation of women tech entrepreneurs.  And it’s just a rotten thing to do. Think before you open your mouth.

And if you see someone doing this, call them on it. I didn’t… that was my nervous laughter in the background of the recording.

Better late then never.

(You might want to subscribe or follow me on Twitter so you don’t miss new articles)


  • Origami_Isopod

    Yes, let’s just focus on what white d00dz care about!

  • Matthew A. Myers

    Pretty lame generalizations for your attacks/argument basis that men shouldn’t be treated equally, in all aspects in life, as women. Two wrongs make a right, too, right?

    I think you need to learn how to be compassionate and understanding – and not attack people as a means of projecting / diverting your anger.

    Any reason you don’t link to any of your personal accounts?

  • nonsexistdude

    as a dude, i hate sexist other dudes.

  • nonsexistdude

    technically, language itself is sexist. i wonder if we’ll ever reach the level of gender progressiveness that we revise the english language to omit gender pronouns.

  • Spokker

    Why haven’t all of your sexual harassment laws preventing these horrible atrocities? 

  • Spokker

    Black dudes never harass women!

  • Spokker

    No fun allowed. 

  • a.

    so, you’re arguing that it’s ok that this guy was flirting with a married woman? (disregarding the fact that he’s on stage at a professional event, not at a bar, etc. etc.)

  • Pingback: Dan Shapiro » My startup needs someone with a sexy voice

  • lowla_xo

    HYl7 – Lately I used to be down on cash and debts were eating me from all angles. That was RIGHT UNTIL i found out how to generate money.. on the INTERNET! I went to surveymoneymaker period net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to do my things!! I’m happy, i did this! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – N1nS