Should quality and superior performance be sacrificed for a diverse work force? An-ex Google employee who was concerned with how few women were in tech decided to fix the gender disparity problem by hiring lots of women when she eventually left Google to form her own tech company. Vidya Narayanan, a former Google engineer now says hiring women just for the sake of hiring women hurts the amazing women in tech.
Concerned with how male dominated her department and most of tech was, Vidya decided to hire more women when she eventually left Google to start UrbanAMA, A video ‘ask me anything’ service that she currently owns. Having received job applications from numerous and often more qualified men than women, she decided to hire the less qualified women anyway in order to increase the number of women in her firm.
However, despite her enthusiasm and drive, she eventually had to fire all her female employees after realizing that they were only bringing the firm down. She hadn’t hired them because they were qualified for job, but to fill a diversity quota. All the increase in salaries she implemented to motivate them did no good. Vidya is now back to being the only woman in the company:
We try hard, but again find ourselves with a 98% male candidate pool. You should know that we are an early stage startup that cannot afford market salaries. Despite that, we paid premium salaries to bring a few women who did well in our interviews. But, they lacked the energy to put us into overdrive. Worse, they were starting to drain the energy from the rest of the team. Eventually, we had to do the right thing for the company and let them go. I’m now back to being the only woman on the (tech) team.
She says she isn’t a a gender traitor, just a realist; Men and women tend to gravitate towards different fields and scopes of studies, she realizes that now. In fact, she realized that hiring less qualified women only hurt the few qualified ones. The less qualified women who inevitably led to poor performance only added to the stereotype of women being unqualified for tech work, making it harder for the qualified ones to get hired.
She notices the following diversity loop:
– We get upset about the state of gender diversity in tech
– We make a pact to hire more women
– The pool has (a lot) more men than women
– After some rounds of low to no success, we start to compromise and hire women just because we have to
– These women show up at work and perform not as great as we want them to
– It reinforces to the male population that was already peeved by the diversity push that women aren’t that good at tech after all
– They generalize that observation on the entire women in tech community
– Sooner or later, some such opinions get out there
– The feminists amongst us go crazy
– The diversity advocates are caught in a frenzy and make a pact to hire more women (again)
– This loops. Infinitely.
Vidya says feminists who want more women in tech should focus in getting more women to take an interest in tech, instead of forcing companies to hire less qualified women.