Microsoft Ventures calls Startup Weekend Women “pointless”

I was shocked to hear this from the head of Microsoft Ventures, Rahul Sood:

He went on to apologize, sort of but not really, complain about being taken out of context, and brag:

The context thing is weird,  because I went looking for context in his previous tweets and could only find complaints about bad entrepreneurs, complaints about how busy he is, and billion dollar startup ideas. I went looking for some “context” to put this in, and could only find  this tweet. No idea if Rahul shares the sentiment,  but he did follow the guy immediately after he tweeted it.

I have seen this perspective before: “If we ignore the problem, it will go away”. I think it would work for sexism as well as it does for Ebola.


Yes, this is exactly what he thinks. If we ignore our problems they will go away. From Geekwire:

“WRT to my tweet – as long as we draw *extra* or even *exclusive* attention to race and gender separation it will continue to exist.” – Rahul Sood

I think Wikipedia best explains the flaw in Rahul’s argument:

Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way). This is a fundamental concept studied in the field of developmental psychology, the subfield of psychology that addresses the development of infants‘ and children’s social and mental capacities.

There are a lot of wonderful people who have worked very hard to make Startup Weekend a source of inspiration and creation for entrepreneurs of all stripes, men and women.

Adriana Moscatelli: As I said several times now, I wouldn’t have started a company, had I not attended Startup Weekend Women’s Edition. There is good research out there supporting that same-sex role models are helpful in motivating women in STEM. 

A friend who’s participated in Startup Weekend for years (but asked me not to use her name) said it better than I could:

Startup Weekend had a partnership with women 2.0 for years and held joint events that always sold out. They weren’t exclusive to women but were around 60% women. The company Foodspotting came out of one of those events.

It was incredibly positive and drew women to experience it that might not have before since they knew there would be other women there. We got great role models of women who were CEOs and CTO’s of startups who were passionate about being role models for women. Women who attend women specific events will often attend non-women specific events later which improves diversity for all events.

If Startup Weekend helps people get towards the first step of entrepreneurship then that is exactly the place we should spend our efforts in increasing diversity. The funnel isn’t big enough. Ask the women who became entrepreneurs because of the many women specific events if they were “pointless”. I doubt it. And it is their opinion that matters here.

There are many spectacular entrepreneurs, men and women alike, who give generously of their time to make entrepreneurship more accessable to everyone. Rahul’s comments on behalf of Microsoft Ventures dishonor them all. As someone who worked at Microsoft for years, has many friends there, and still carry a lot of affection for the place, I’m deeply disappointed.

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