Startup dudes: Cut the sexist crap

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.

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