Mike Moritz, one of the most authoritative venture capitalists in technologies, says that women are to blame for not getting ahead. He says there is a problem in finding women who can succeed in venture capital. Let’s try to understand what is the problem.
Mike Moritz is a respected person whose words are always listened to. But on Dec. 2. at Bloomberg TV interview he made a mistake blaming women for not entering the world of technology that is almost owned by men.
Moritz, being a chairman of Sequoia Capital, says that it is rather hard to find women to “become a member of their masters-of-the-universe club.” (And those are not just words, because the high-profile VCs really are the masters of the Silicon Valley universe.) Over Moritz strenuous desire to employ more women, he says that Sequoia won’t lower its standards.
No kidding! He said what he meant. And what we liked the most—Moritz is a historian by profession. Doesn’t this turn his words into nonsense? He himself entered the world of technology and venture capitalism without even earning a degree in science, tech, engineering or math (STEM). But when it comes to women, the situation is somehow different.
It caught the flack. Vanity Fair published an essay with the headline “It’s you. Not him,” while Recode, a tech site, took opinions of other top-level VCs to listen to some ridiculous explanations to the field’s lack of women. In May, CNET published a report on women VCs. They told that they were tired of fighting for their rights and started their own firms and angel funds.
Mike Moritz did not hesitate to “clarify his opinion,” telling Emily Chang, a Bloomberg’s anchor, that he knows that there are women who would certainly succeed in venture business, and that they are searching for these women relentlessly. Nice going! We hope that in the list of applicants, they will find those rare women the company would consider on, hmm, equal terms.
Okay, let’s forget about it. According to Mike Moritz, the core problem is the lack of women’s desire to study sciences when they are teenagers. This trend is especially strong in the U.S. and Europe. So, there are less women to choose from.
Yes, he is right. Fewer women have STEM degrees, but why? The possible reason for that is that they may not like computers. But another reason is more realistic. It was proven by a number of studies that women are fed up with being dismissed or intimidated by the boys in class and the men at work.
We understand why it is so important for Sequoia venture capital to employ a person with a STEM degree. It makes the work more efficient—the evaluation of an entrepreneur’s proposed product or technology becomes easier at the early investment stages. But there is again a contradiction—not every partner of Sequoia has STEM degrees.
Yes, there are fewer women with the STEM degrees. However, there are many women who have an MBA or a degree in economics or finance. They are full of energy, enthusiastic, interested in technologies, have many innovative ideas and are gunning for success.
A week ago, Moritz said that there are many promising women in the field, who would certainly succeed in the venture business.
We have already mentioned above that Mike Moritz holds a degree in history. He himself told that Don Valentine, a Sequoia founder, took a chance on employing Moritz in 1986. The VC admits that he knew nothing about technology and tech companies in Silicon valley.
What the women to do? The Moritz story of success pushes you toward working as a journalist without even trying to send your brilliant CV to Apple or Google. That what Moritz did—he wrote stories for Time magazine.
So, if you are a bright woman, who is very interested in technology and is looking for a chance to translate the possibilities into actions in the Silicon Valley tech companies, just get a history degree. Nail it down with an MBA and several published stories. There is a chance that it would make Moritz notice and take a chance on you. And, of course, it would not be considered lowering the standards.