Julie Pagano

Male Allies Panel Transcript

I have been thinking a lot lately about making content in the tech community more accessible. For example, much of our content is inaccessible to people who are deaf or have other hearing or auditory processing issues because of a lack of transcripts. I try to provide written versions of my talks relatively soon after the fact. I thought I can also help out by transcribing high profile presentations that might be of interest to a wide audience.

One of my cats has been sick the last few days, and I needed something to focus on while watching him to prevent a full on catmom freakout. Transcription seemed like a good fit. I decided to transcribe the male allies panel from Grace Hopper Celebration 2014. This high profile plenary panel at the biggest women in tech conference was livestreamed without transcripts. I am sure at least a few deaf women or male allies would appreciate being able to review the content, so I put this together. I hope it’s helpful.

Transcript

Announcer:

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the vice president of programs at the Anita Borg Institute, Barb Gee.

[intro music]

Barb Gee:

Good evening. I hope you had a great day. [applause from audience] So I read a very interesting blog yesterday by Cate Huston. Cate with a “C.” I encourage you all to read it. What I really liked is she very much articulated the different kinds of diversity work. The easy stuff that you can do. When I’m cynical, I consider it the phony, shallow stuff. Window dressing. And all the way to the very hard stuff, which is really getting to the root of toxic cultures. I hope that this panel is just our first step in starting to attack that really hard stuff cause frankly I’m not really interested in wasting our time on window dressing. We need serious culture change, [applause from audience] and I’m very excited…I’m very excited to present the next panel. I’d like to share how this panel came to be and at some point I will address some of the legitimate concerns that people have had with this.

But I just want to tell this story. So about a year and half ago, Telle Whitney and I were at the NCWIT summit. We had just finished listening to a very respected Perl programmer in the open source community talk about how he personally had been trying to challenge his male peers about the sexism that was rampant in that culture – this is quite well known [editor’s note: the speaker being referenced is Michael Schwern]. And the resistance he got and the way he was treated. He had gotten to a point where he was beleaguered, defeated, ostracized from a community that was important to him. So Telle and I walked to lunch, and she just turned to me and she said, you know, we don’t have a place for the guys to go to. So that started me thinking about what kinds of resources and programs we could offer for our male allies.

Some months later, I’m sitting in a meeting with the ABI trustees. I listened, this is a very private meeting, and I listened as the men in the room shared their stories about how they talk to other men about gender issues. I listened to Mike Schroepfer, CTO of Facebook, talk candidly about how he converses with other men. And like a good engineer, after taking us through his very well orchestrated logic tree, he ended with “so, essentially, I position unconscious bias a false negative.” I thought, wow, what a great way to present the gender issue to an engineer. And, um, I thought, you know, there’s state of the art dialogue that’s needed in order to make this culture change happen. Mike credits Alan Eustace of Google with this framing. And that’s really what this male ally work is about. Men helping men talk to men. Cause they don’t need to talk to us. We know what’s going on. They need to talk to other men about why this issue’s important and point out where unconscious bias is, how they manifest.

Later, I was on the phone with a woman. I don’t even really remember who she was, and she was telling me about the stress she was under because she was the only woman on her team, and she was encountering a lot of resistance. So I asked her, do you have any allies in your company. Where’s your boss on this? She said, my boss is a great guy. He is supporting me. He sticks up for me, and guess what. Not surprisingly, they’re starting to push him aside. And that’s when I realized that men take risks when they advocate for us. They face the same toxic culture that we do. This added more motivation for me to figure out what we could do to help. And this panel’s just the first step to starting to develop ABI programs for our male allies.

Before I introduce the panel and address some concerns, I’d like to share a teaser for a documentary that’s coming out next year called “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap.” Robin Hauser Reynolds, the director/producer, and Stacey Hartman, producer, are present in the audience. Robin and Stacy will you raise your hand. Right here [points]. [audience applause]. I’m sure they’d love to talk to you after this. So let’s check out their great work.

[trailer for documentary plays]

To me this is a clarion call for culture. It’s time to build a serious movement. [applause] Some of you might know there’s been serious concern about this panel. Some women believe it’s totally inappropriate to have GoDaddy’s CEO Blake Irving on a male allies panel. [applause] Some women take offense that we’re giving plenary attention to men. I would be the last person to defend the misogynistic advertising that GoDaddy employed prior to Blake joining the company. I’ve been intrigued with the challenges he faces. Doing an external and internal cultural turnaround. Ironically Blake’s turned over his executive staff. 30% of his executive staff is female, which we would die to have our partner companies do. [applause]. And Elissa Murphy, his CTO, is a woman. I seriously don’t think he lowered the bar to hire her. [applause] The women at GoDaddy have weighed in and testified positively about the company’s internal culture. So I think this is an interesting situation and would like to learn from those challenges. I get that this is hard to reconcile. Those ads were horrendous, but I’ve looked at every ad that has come out since Blake took over, and they’re quite good.

But I thought if I shared some stories from my life, and some of the lessons my mom taught me. During the tumultuous time in the 60s and 70s when social movement building was everybody’s hobby, um, that I might give you some perspective about how to think about this, and how to think about including men in our movement and why I think it’s so important.

These stories really hit at the heart of why I believe the inclusion of men into our movement is a good thing. Because if we say we’re about diversity inclusion, we’ve gotta walk the talk. Hard as it is, we gotta do it. So I was raised in San Francisco during the 60s when there was great social upheaval and social movement building in our country. I like to joke that for our Sunday Sunday drive my dad would pile us into his old Ford, and we’d go down to the Haight-Ashbury and look at the hippies! Didn’t everybody do that when they were kids?` The Chinese-American community that I was part of could be quite racist, especially towards the African-American community. They had very different ways of expressing themselves. Ways that seemed kind of rough to us Asians. My mom could have reinforced those racist attitudes in me, but instead she said, “we owe a lot to the Black community.” We might not protest the way they do, but they had not stood up and broken down some doors, we would not have had doors to walk through. That was my first lesson in diversity. [applause and shouting] The importance of valuing people who are different than you and seeing them for their strengths as partners. Not writing them off because they’re different.

During the 60s and into the 70s, I went through an intense personal racial identity crisis. While at the same time our country continued to experience major cultural disruption, social movements continued to grow. As Martin Luther King said in his essay about how he came to non-violence, “I came dangerous close to hating all white people.” That hit a chord for me. I could relate. Enter mom. She said to me, I have to hand it to those white college kids. They’re the ones who are truly prepared to give up their power and privilege, so we can build a just world. And for those of you who might not remember back then, many white college kids from wealthy families challenged their parents. Challenged our culture of materialism and were prepared to give up their material comfort, their own personal material comfort, for a bigger cause. This was happening all over the country. This was my second lesson in diversity. A culture change. I could’ve gone through life pissed off at every white person who slighted me or insulted me. It still happens. Mom instilled in me the ability to respect the positive actions of those who I might too readily write off. She taught me that in order to change the situation of those who hold weaker social positions in society, we need an accompanying change on the part of those with power and privilege. Giving up power or using it on behalf of change is a vital ingredient. We need to partner with the majority, not because they’re superiors or that they need to lead us. I mean, we don’t need that. But as equal partners in this incredibly rewarding and hard work of changing our culture. It’s in thanks to mom and in her spirit that I offer this panel.

This is just the start of our formal work with male allies. I welcome your input. For all of the men who are here. All 483 of you. I imagine you might be a bit shell-shocked right now, but I’m here to tell you it gets better. I would like to invite you to join me for an informal listening session tomorrow at 5:15. I want to hear your stories from the frontlines and brainstorm how we can help. I recently spoke with Alan Eustace and Telle Whitney, who knew Anita Borg well. I asked “what would Anita say?” They both told me that Anita welcomed male allies into the work from day one. So, I think she would approve. [applause]

With that, let me introduce, Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain and former trustee of the Anita Borg Institute, who will introduce and moderate our male allies panel. Thank you.

[applause] [music plays as panel walks on stage]

Penny Herscher: Thank you Barb. Let me start by introducing my esteemed panelists here. We have Alan Eustace, who is the SVP of knowledge from Google. We have Mike Schroepfer, who is the CTO of Facebook. We have Blake Irving who is the CEO of GoDaddy. And we have [yelling from audience] Tayloe Stansbury who clearly has a fan club here. [more yelling]. And we have Tayloe Stansbury who is the CTO of Intuit. [applause]

And as Barb said in her introduction, this subject is actually a contentious, emotional subject for many people, but it’s also very personal. I’m sure for many of you in the audience, it’s very personal. There comes a moment in your life, when you decide what you’re going to fight for, and gender equality in the workforce is something that my panel has decided to fight for.

And we’re going to start with why is it personal to them. Because there’s been so much discussion on social media about GoDaddy, we’re going to start with Blake. Go for it.

Blake Irving: Thanks Penny. Um, when I, when it was announce that I had taken this job, I had, um, a lot of friends that I worked with in the technology industry, over 20 years or so go, GoDaddy? What are you kidding? Because that is so off brand for you, you know, and what I personally stood for. Of course, you know, the things that people know about the company, at that point, people go “I know your ads. I don’t like them.” You know, and the guys would tell me, they’re misogynistic. They objectify women, and you know, I know that’s what you’re about, but, dude, that’s what you’re walking into. I said, well, there’s no better way to fix something head on from a cultural perspective. Then oddly when I got to the company, I started talking with folks inside it. I found this very large dichotomy between the people that were there and how we were represented outside. So the commercials didn’t represent the spirit of the people, the diversity of the company.

And for me and my own person story, um, thirteen, a little over thirteen years ago, my sister who, Laurie Irving, who was a professor at Washington State University in Vancouver died through complications in her pregnancy, and she was two weeks away from having her first child. Um, and Laurie was one of the foremost researchers in the effect of media on women’s self-esteem and body image. Um, and I was extremely close to her. She was my closest and youngest sister, and after her passing, I vowed to do as much as I possibly could to forward women in my chosen field as she had done with hers. She was fighting anorexia and bulimia and had as a child. And I’d do everything I could to fight the same cause she was fighting in my industry. Can you imagine a better company to join than GoDaddy to achieve that goal. Absolutely not. [applause] And so I took the jump and decided to do that, and as off brand and as off-putting as it was for a lot of folks, it was absolutely the right choice. Since joining, the advertising has taken on a completely different flavor. It’s not about sexist, it’s about women’s empowerment. They make up 58 percent of small businesses in the United States, and by golly, we’re gonna show how hard they work, and how darn hard it is for them to…to do the same that others that are male do. [shrugs] So that’s my story.

Penny Herscher:

So, who wants to follow that. [laughter]

[Alan Eustace points at Tayloe]

And it’s Tayloe.

Tayloe Stansbury:

So my mom actually worked as a programmer for the federal reserve in the late 50s and early 60s, and she taught me to program when I was eight. And then she moved on to become a teacher of computer science and math. My wife is…was a computer scientist. My two older daughters are studying computer science. One at UC Santa Barbara and one at Harvey Mudd College. My wife’s mother was a CS professor. Her mother was a physics professor. [laughter from audience] So I guess I’ve been surrounded by women I'dn technology, and in particular, women in computer science, for pretty much all my life, and uh, something that I try to continue to work on.

[applause]

[Penny looks at Alan]

Alan Eustace:

She’s nodding at me. [laughs] So, uh, I guess the, you know, the start for me was really Anita Borg and I were really really close personal friends, as were many people in the audience. She and I started at a digital equipment corporation on the same day, and she corrected my first uh – I was from Florida, by the way, not a pillar of enlightenment, uh, at least when I growing up. And, uh, the very first, you know, the first few days, I said, “why don’t we go to the girl’s volleyball game at Stanford.” She just turned at me and she goes, “do you go to the boys basketball game at Stanford.” And I said, “no, I go to the men’s basketball game at Stanford.” [laughter] And she, you know, in her own way she smiled at me, and that was probably one of 4,000 lessons that she taught me. Not by, you know like, beating me down, but by helping me through the journey. She was also the smartest person, I think that I knew, uh, which was great. She was working on the hardest problem. I was working on a floating point processor, and she was building the virtual memory subsystem of the operating system, so I had a lot of awe for that. You know, kind of the hardest piece of the whole puzzle. So I knew her for, you know, a very long time, and uh, you know if you spend any time at all with Anita, and many of you have, uh, you’ll know that she imparts on you not just a change in the way you think about things, but also a kind of a lifelong commitment to the causes that she stood for. Many of us in this room honestly are, uh, are fulfilling what we think is a legacy, and so, I want to thank everybody that came because she would love this. She would love 8,000 people here because the best thing that you can do is have incredibly smart talented women entering the workforce and changing the world, and that would’ve made her really happy.

Penny Herscher:

Go for it, Mike.

Mike Schroepfer:

Uh, I think there’s a theme in all of these, which is a personal connection. Mine comes from my wife, Erin. Um, she’s an engineer since I’ve known her. She’s actually a CTO too. We joke, we’re probably one of the few dual CTO households in the country. I’ll point out, she got there first. So, uh, [applause], by a good bit, so she’s the better engineer, by far. The, you know, and kind of we started our careers together, so I watched her often be the only female engineer in the company, um, and you know, she’s thrived in that, which is a testament to her, but not without its obstacles along the way. And it’s one thing to hear someone else’s story or read about something in a magazine. It’s another to hear the story coming home how you’re constantly mistaken for someone in marketing or the receptionist or whatever it may be because people wouldn’t actually believe you’re an engineer. Um, and, you know, those things do actually have an impact. So I think that’s where it really started for me. And then when I was lucky enough to join Facebook, 6 years ago now, just realizing that we’re a platform used by, you know, 1.3 billion people, and um, it’s crazy just on basic logic that we didn’t have, or wouldn’t have an engineering team that’s a good reflection of that planet of people, and isn’t concentrated with one set of people in it. And so kinda diversity of gender and of all kinds has become really important to us to make sure we have people building the product that are like the people who use it.

Penny Herscher:

That’s great. Thank you all for sharing your personal stories.

[applause]

So I that, uh, as you advocate for women in your workforces, do you come across resistance? And, um, men and women will resist you, and I, as we prepped for this, you told me a number of stories. I want to start with Tayloe. You had some stories about the resistance you experienced, and how you overcome it.

Tayloe Stansbury:

I’m not sure so much resistance, as reminder. I think in general, our culture is one that is open and accepting, but one does have to ask questions about how we’re doing on hiring women, hiring minorities. Um, one does have to ask questions about how we’re doing at promoting them, particularly in areas where they’re underrepresented. We find that women tend to, uh, promote easily into, or relatively easily into positions of people leadership, but not so much into individual contributor or very senior roles. Distinguished engineers, fellows, chief architects, and sometimes those need some curation and thought pinpointing people who are likely candidates and then asking questions about what do they need for development. What would make them ready to be promoted into those positions. So those are things we work on.

Penny Herscher:

So Mike, you explain the false negative argument to the audience. [laughs]

Mike Schroepfer:

Um, yeah, and I’ll point out, you know, resistance, just to answer your other question, is interesting. Cause, let’s be frank, we’re all here in positions of power, so I don’t actually think we get a lot of resistance in day to day. First of all, shame on us if we don’t use that power to make some change. And, you know, I’ve had a lot of reticence to coming to this panel because it’s, it’s not like we’re winning yet. So, we’re all trying really hard, and I think we all care, but the results aren’t there yet. So I don’t wanna stand, at least myself up, for sure, up as any kind of pinnacle of someone to admire or follow on this, as far as the result that are there.

But as far as the false negative. Basically, I have to start from a principle believing people aren’t malevolent. They just are who they are. So I have to have a rational model for why people are believing the way they are. And, you know, the false negative argument comes from basically, this constant concern people have, at least in our organization, of hiring quality. Are we hiring the absolute best people in the world we can find for everything? And whenever you talk about anything that isn’t some thing directly related to performance of an individual, it always raises the question of, “well does this mean we’re lowing the hiring bar.” And Alan and I were just having this conversation, and we’ve had this conversation quite publicly inside the company. I’ve gotten so irritated by this conversation, that I’ve tried to like remove the word “hiring bar” from our lexicon because it’s stupid. It’s not like there’s a standardized test that everyone takes. That’s there’s a score, and we draw a line and everyone above the line comes in, and everyone below the line doesn’t. Like that is not how a hiring process works. You’re trying to make a judgment on will this person be exceptional and succeed and do well here, and that’s all anyone wants. You know, there’s no reason for us to hire someone we don’t think will be that way. So you kinda have to walk people through the whole process and explain that it is what it is, and you’re trying to find the best person you can, um, for that role no matter what. And I think that the one place where, you know, I think you can get people to agree that like, ok at the end of day, we have the same hiring process. We’re going to evaluate all the candidates in the same way. We have a hiring committee which does this, and they don’t take gender into account. We just try to decide who are the best. It’s fine. So you can kinda get people through that, and say ok, great, we’re not lowering the bar.

But then there’s this other question. It’s like, well, we’re spending all this time on diversity. Right? And we have these recruiters who are spending their time on diversity. And if you look at the data, you say that those recruiting pipelines are less efficient than other ones. Meaning, number of people hired per hour spent recruiting is lower, and that is accurate. It is true that if I take a recruiter and put them on hiring just any random college grad versus hiring from a smaller pool of people, diversity, they will be less productive on the second than the first. And so there’s a question of like is that a fair thing to do. Should we be using company resources on that. Um, and I think we’ve just decided that this is a stated policy of the company that we’re gonna do this. We think it’s important for all the reasons that we’ve talked about. That diversity is key for the company, so we’re going to invest the time and energy here. And by the way, we make this decision in other ways too. It’s a lot harder to hire a 20 year experienced system programmer than it is someone with a more general skillset, so it’s again, a less efficient process. So it’s kinda walking everyone through the process of, look, it’s the same hiring calibers. The only question is, “will this person be exceptional in the company or not, no matter where they came from or what their background is.” And secondly, it’s like are we willing to like spend some of the company money trying really hard to make sure we’re encouraging everyone who we can who might be exceptional here to come here and join us. And that’s where we are.

Penny Herscher:

Alan, I know you had some stories of resistance, and how you’ve overcome it in your career. Can you share some stories with the audience?

Alan Eustace:

You know, I don’t think it’s so much resistance. I think it’s, uh, it’s people not really understanding. You know, I’ve, I mentioned this to other people, you know, many times, but uh, I don’t think people really understand what women really go through in a technology field. They just don’t understand it. It’s just beyond their mental model of what it’s like to be in a minority because they’ve never been in a minority. I’ve asked thousands of women now, uh, the question, “has there ever been a time in your career where some man has said something that made you do a double-take because of some gender-based stereotype that was behind it.” And, you know, it always come out as like “did you just say that?” And nobody says anything about it. Nobody actually corrects them because it happens so often, that you know, you just, you know if you corrected everybody, that’s all you’d be doing. And I ask people, I said, if you’re one of those people that has never had this happen to you, please come up and tell me. And so far I’ve had one person. Thousands and people. Is there anybody here that that’s something never happened to you? Ok, so now we know, it happens all the time.

And so, my fear right now is, you know, is that because the people are, you know, mean. Are they stupid? Are they not informed? Or is it just because we haven’t done as good a job as we can of building an environment that is – that reacts negatively. When the antibodies come out against that kind of behavior. And I think we can. I lived through the civil rights movement and other things. I saw what happened, and people, you know, I saw what happened with jokes and other things over the years, over many many years. I feel we can make a change there, but it’s going to require a lot of men and women, but certainly it’s harder for women to make the case for those things, and somebody else has to do it, as well. Because these kind of changes and environment happen because the majority does something different, not because the minority does something different.

Penny Herscher:

There is an element of personal risk. I know, Blake, you’re taking on quite a bit of personal risk at the moment as you try and change the world. Talk about how you experience that when you’re interacting with other men.

Blake Irving:

You know. I…strangely enough, I have been, um,…I’ve encountered mostly acceptance when I’ve introduced some of the things that I’ve done from other men. I’ve also, you know, have had not pushback. I’ve had pushback on some of the changes in advertising from men, right, which, you know said, “I think your advertising was fine.”

Penny Herscher:

They enjoyed it, probably.

Blake Irving:

And I’m like, you know, that’s, you’re missing the mark. And, it’s not about the company on the outside. It’s about how do you actually create an environment on the inside of the company, that is as accepting as possible for women. And some of that is trying to make sure that the leadership you bring to the company is equally distributed as you possibly can make it. Uh, so, hiring Elissa Murphy as our CTO was very deliberate, and, you know, she’s the, she’s unbelievably talented, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with her for over a decade, and was delighted when she said, “you know, I believe in what you’re doing here, and I think I think, uh, I’m willing to take that lead, and I know that I’m going to be answering a lot of tough questions from my friends too.” And the first, uh, board director, independent board director, I appointed was Betsy Rafael, who was the chief accounting officer at Apple, as well. And I say, I didn’t encounter a lot of pushback. I will say, um, a CTO who is a women, that when I introduced Elissa to the board, and she met all of the board members, the initial thought was, “a woman as a CTO, that’s interesting.” And I’m like, “she’s awesome.” Every conversation Elissa left with the board, they were flabbergasted. You know, just, oh my god. Super thoughtful. Super powerful. Soft-spoken. Very effective. And creating and environment where she can thrive and where others like her can thrive. I think is incredibly important to push back against that resistance.

And another thing that I’ve found, and I know I have a friend who is the head of the computer science department at Cal Poly has found, is when you build small teams, whether they’re scrum teams or agile teams, if instead of saying, look, I’m going to try to equally distribute – I’m going to put a woman on every team. He’s actually found if you try to put the same number of women and men on a team, on a small team, that you’ll end up having a much more balanced team, that is much more effective, and I’ve found that also creates less of a, less of a pushback.

Penny Herscher:

Having been the only woman in the room for the first twenty years of my career, I can tell you it’s much more fun when it’s balanced between men and women in the room. Definitely.

So, we talked as we were prepping you about this. Hundreds of years of conditioning, and we’re all conditioned by our experience. We’re conditioned by the media. We’re conditioned by our families. And, so, one of the things that the Anita Borg Institute does is the top women – top company for women award. And when AMEX won this award, I was struck by how they talked about the need to really educate the men at the top of the company to bring the women up as much as to educate the women. But they also, I know many of your companies run very specific programs targeted at helping the women and the men overcome the hundreds of years of conditioning. So, for our audience, if you could talk about some specifics. What do you do specifically to try to overcome that conditioning that we all have.

Tayloe Stansbury:

Sure, if I may. So Intuit has about 3,000 people in technology, of whom 170 are here to learn and to recruit. Um, so expect to learn here. And we have about 27% of our technical staff are female, but if you want to go, if you want to really be effective you have to think earlier. So one of the programs we support is Girls Who Code, and I was lucky enough that my daughter went through that this summer. My youngest daughter, and she’s now decided that she wants to major in computer science. So I think getting girls early on to get confident and get excited with it is really really important. We have a really large recruiting program for interns and early career. We expect to hire, at this conference, 100 women. So it’s something that we’re working on throughout what we do, and then as you move forward in their careers, how do you make sure that they stay around at the company. So we have about 8% attrition amongst women in technology. That gets a little worse as they get later career, and moving into places where either there are other opportunities at other companies or life events happen that make it harder to hold down the same kind of job without flexibility. And so we try really hard to be creative about moving people into new roles for which there, they don’t have obvious credential, and I think we’ve done an unusually good job with that, and also to be flexible about hours, videoconferencing from home to allow for flexibility in women’s lives in mid-career.

Penny Herscher:

How does the women’s attrition rate compare to the men’s at Intuit.

Tayloe Stansbury:

Uh, about the same.

Penny Herscher:

About the same.

How about you, Alan? I know you’re doing a lot at Google, very specifically.

Alan Eustace:

Uh, you know the biggest in reference to your question is unconscious bias, and uh, we’ve been running an unconscious bias program. That I think the goal was to have everybody at Google go through unconscious bias training, which is an enormous investment to do, but even before that what we did was we put together our own training based on the best research that’s out there. Cause look, you know, especially engineers, you know, you can’t just kinda give touchy feely things. You have to prove things to them. And, uh, and it’s actually really easy to prove this. There’s lots of studies about unconscious bias, and what’s very clear if you go through, and there’s exercises. There’s lots of research that’s been done. You can actually run your own test on some many web sites, and find out how biased you are. And you’d be shocked to know how biased anybody is about anything. I mean, just and it’s, and the bias is the same for men and women, actually. I mean, it’s amazing, we have an impression of what a particular person looks like. You know, we have of what a programmer looks like, or what a nurse looks like, or, you know, what a fireman looks like. It’s just ingrained. And I think one of the really nice things about the program. It’s like an hour long. Is it teaches people that they are biased, and that you have to step back and think about what kind of biases you have in every situation, and you have to understand that. And then you have to physically compensate for what your entire life has taught you to do that.

I mean, for example, one of our senior fellows, a guy named Jeff Dean, whose daughter might be in the audience. I saw her earlier today. And we thought about, you know, our hiring process at one point was how many standard deviations away from Jeff Dean is this person. And, you know, well, this person’s three standard deviations away. And we just thought about how wrong that message is. That’s not a program, that’s not what a programmer looks like. They come in all sizes, shapes, you know, genders, you know, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, things like that. And so, you know, for me, that training was really important, and it was powerful, and I think we’ve got a much more sensitized workforce because of it. And I hope it’s gonna turn out better for lots of outcomes in the company.

Penny Herscher:

In fact, everyone in the audience can go through the training right? It’s online, isn’t it? I watched the video. There’s a one hour video, and it’s really eye opening. It’s really good.

Mike Schroepfer:

Yeah, I think this is just this is, double down on this…We’re running a similar program, and it’s really important to get people sensitized to the fact that they have these biases. The way I often talk about this to engineers is, you know your brain is this amazing pattern matcher. And so, because we have this problem of diversity in the workplace, it’s like reinforced the patterns in your brain, which is you’re used to going into a room where it’s usually white men, and those are the programmers. You know, other functions or other people are represented by other things. So that’s the pattern you represent in your brain. It’s fairly, it happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, but if you don’t acknowledge that it exists, as Alan said, you don’t correct it. If you assume, no no no, I’m great with this, I don’t have to worry about it, then you’re probably screwing it up because you really have to be worrying about it all the time and correcting for it. Man or woman, background, care about it or not to make sure that you’re doing the right thing in the workplace all the time. And that’s a really hard message for people to hear, but I think it’s important people hear it in a non-judgmental way. It’s, again, not a bad person, just this is the state of the world and the state of your mind and brain, and what you’ve been trained to see. And here’s where we want to move it to, and we need to all work on this together. And I think that’s a really important step for the workplace.

Penny Herscher:

You doing anything really active to bring women up, Blake?

Blake Irving:

Um, yeah, so we…

Penny Herscher:

Programmatically?

Blake Irving:

Well, programmatically, we have something that we started about, eight, nine months ago, which is called the GoDaddy women in technology group. And we encourage men to participate in the GoDaddy women in technology group, and we bring in speakers, uh, on on a monthly basis. We’ve had the president of the Geena Davis foundation, Telle’s been out, Maria Klawe’s been out, Lisa Stone from BlogHer’s been out. And they spend the whole day with us, and they spend the day with the exec staff, talking, helping influence. We listen a LOT on things that they think we should be doing. They listen to what we are doing. Uh, and making sure that the awareness across the company is greater that, gosh, there’s a lot a women that are in technology in this company, and they need a voice. They need a common voice – a way to be heard. Uh, and we need to be educated by them. Um, I think some of the ideas you’ve introduced about unconscious bias are absolutely true, and I’m anxious to view the video.

Penny Herscher:

It really is fantastic.

Blake Irving:

Sounds awesome. Uh but, those are the things we’ve been doing programmatically. And there’s, on a, I’ll be flat open honest, there’s a lot more that we have to do. You know, we’re just getting started on some of this stuff, so um. I think Alan and Mike have been, frankly, you know, way ahead of it, and I’m, uh, delighted to be able to chat with them about it.

Penny Herscher:

So let’s go off script for a second.

Alan Eustace:

That’s always a bad idea.

Penny Herscher:

So this is all very nice.

[laughter from audience]

This is all very nice and positive, right. Why is this so hard? I have thirty years in this business as a technical woman, and we aren’t done yet. Right ladies? We aren’t done yet. [yelling from audience] So why is this so hard? You, you must see it from you’re in this perspective of power. I know you all care. What’s so, what’s making it so difficult? Why can’t we move faster?

Alan Eustace:

You know personally, I think it’s culture. Culture’s the hardest thing to change. I feel like computer science is a wonderful layer we’re actually trying to solve huge problems. It’s really, it’s interesting. I love this discipline in every way. I feel like it’s so important, but at the same time, we’ve created a, um, over time this culture of kind of exclusivity, elitism, ah, you know, it it’s, we make things that are really simple, actually hard. You know, we have, [laughs], you know like pipelining, you know. It’s a washer and a dryer, that’s all pipelining is. You know, but we have all these acronyms and make everything seem really super hard and difficult and, you know, have uh, you know, we’ve just, we’ve created this club, you know, this fraternity that is programmers, and it’s just bad. It’s just wrong. And, and I feel like it’s holding us back as a company. It’s holding our individuals back. It’s holding our companies back. It’s holding the field back.

woman in audience:

BINGO!!!

Alan Eustace:

[confused look] What? Uh oh. Uh oh, I might’ve…

[audience laughter]

Penny Herscher:

I think that was enthusiasm in the audience. Keep going.

Alan Eustace:

Anyways, so uh, so it’s just holding us back, and I feel like somehow we have to break through the culture, uh, to really make progress. You know, the sad thing is, is I don’t think the culture is active. I don’t think people are, you know, actively protecting it and trying to hold off the hordes of women and diversity candidates and keep them from the power structure that is technology. It’s just not happening like that. [laughs] Maybe it is. But my hope is that it’s not that, and that nad it’s, you can teach people, uh, and you can change that culture, and that we don’t have to wait for all those people to die because that’s the alternative. [audience laughter] Now many of you want to kill a few of them, and I’m ok, I am not encouraging that behavior, but, but uh, I think we have to change that.

Penny Herscher:

Do you think it’s generational? I mean, Mike, you have a very young employee base at Facebook. Do you think some of the issues are generational? Do you see it better in the younger generation than the older generation.

Mike Schroepfer:

I mean the data says the reverse. Is that it was actually better twenty years ago than it is today, so I, you know, [audience yells something…maybe another bingo?] if it’s generational, it’s going…

Blake Irving:

…it’s going wrong..

Mike Schroepfer:

Going in the wrong direction, so uh, I don’t think it’s generational. Um, I think it’s a lot of what Alan said. We need to fix the culture.

Blake Irving:

And more people have to care. I mean, one of the biggest problems is most of the guys that are in the club, in the fraternity that Alan was describing. Honestly, they don’t care enough, and they have to change behavior, and changing behavior is hard and you have to really want to do it. And you have to be conscious about it. And if you’re introducing new things that somebody has to do, and the benefit for them, especially among engineers, isn’t tangible, the, they’re, why the hell would I make that investment? Because they don’t see the tangible. Now, I believe they will. I’ve seen it on small teams. It matters a whole hell of a lot.

Penny Herscher:

Yes.

Alan Eustace:

Let me add one thing on a previous thing. I had mentioned the whole thing about, uh, about how many women have encountered in their career, some form of stereotype, and it’s caused them to uh, you know, have either do a double-take or things like that. But the other part of that story, that I think is the most interesting part is the reverse. Of all the men I’ve asked “have you ever in any situation or workforce ever said something or done something that has made a woman uncomfortable based on some stereotype.” And I’ve yet to find a single male that will admit ever doing that. [laugher from panel]

Penny Herscher:

I’ll give you names.

[laughter from audience]

Alan Eustace:

No no. Actually someone came to me after I’d done that, and said, “Alan, I remember a time when you made me uncomfortable.” [laughter from panel and audience] So, it’s happening out there. She took me aside and corrected me. We’re fine now. [laughter]

Tayloe Stansbury:

Penny, if I could add. You know, I think all of us are hiring well above the average of graduates in computer science, and I’m guessing everybody in the conference is doing the same thing. I think the problem starts way earlier. A bunch of you out here are students in computer science. You’ve already decided to make that choice, to go into computer science. I think the problem is in high school, when girls decide not to. And if you think about the problem we have in this country of not enough graduates in computer science. How you can fix the problem if you don’t get the other half of the population to get excited about computing and feel capable of doing it, so I think programs that reach all the way back into high school and middle school that get girls excited about computing and feeling like it’s cool and that they can do it. And it’s not out there and weird and geeky, are incredibly important to feed the pipeline, so that when it comes downstream to us for trying to hire people, they’re there, and they’re great. And one of the things that, you know, we require in schools is that everybody take languages. You have to take so many years of a foreign language when you’re in high school. Why is not computing a language you have to take? Why is it not a requirement? [applause]

When women actually do have to take computer science as a requirement, almost half of them actually find out that they actually love it and want to continue studying it. I think Harvey Mudd is an example of that.

Blake Irving:

There’s a, uh, an organization called code.org. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them. Hadi Partovi, big voice in that, uh, that group. Great guy. And they have something they do called the hour of code. Um, and, don’t know, our company just sent out a mail encouraging everybody to do this, this. Everybody across the company, to spend an hour, just coding, and see what you think. And his, his take is exactly what you said. Look, we should have this as a science because we still do, we do biology, we do chemistry, and we don’t do computer science, nor do we treat it as it was a language, and it was just part of the linguistics program. And either can be true, and few folks, few kids in high school, or even going into high school, or matriculating into college view coding as a creative art form, when it is, in fact, incredibly flexible and incredibly creative. In a place where, yes, you can apply linear thinking, and do all kinds of things that would apply to somebody who was gonna be a double E or an ME, but it’s also more creative than that because you can express yourself in different ways and get to the same result. And few folks actually know that when they’re in their high school years, and nobody’s teaching them. And we’ve got to.

Penny Herscher:

So, Mike, you told us about a program about a program, um, to bring kids in who were not from computer science and teach them over the summer. That was a fascinating program. Can you tell the audience about that program.

Mike Schroepfer:

Sure. We call it FBU. This is the second summer we did it, and it was actually, I got tired, we got tired of talking about this, and wanted to try to do something to get people who might be interested from might “I might be interested” to “hell yeah, I’m interested in computer science.” And, um, so we started in 2013. It was a small group. We made it 60% bigger this year. This year’s class was 96% diverse, so 96% women and minorities. We actually got some anecdotal feedback that they wanted some other men in the program. [laughter] But, um, much more important, they did amazing. So they goal here was to get people who were freshman, so rising sophomores in college, who were interested in computer science, but probably hadn’t taken enough of the prerequisites to qualify to be a full-time intern, um, so weren’t, either weren’t a computer science student or weren’t far enough along, and try to hook them into it. So, you’ve got iOS training, so we actually did the same iOS training we’ll use to take a web developer and turn them into a mobile developer, offered it to them, and they did team projects in groups of four. Um, and then presented them at the end of the summer. And what’s amazing is that a good portion of them came back the next year as full time summer interns, and they’re, they performed amazingly well. As good or better than any other cohort I could find at the company. So it’s a small group, but we’re hoping to expand it over years.

Penny Herscher:

What were their majors? Or, what were the breadth of majors?

Mike Schroepfer:

I mean, most of them were undeclared because they were freshmen. So, you know, some were math, some were in the humanities, and some were maybe interested in computer science, but weren’t sure. And, um, you know, the most fulfilling is just meeting people who said, “yeah, I wasn’t sure whether I was interested”, but after the summer it’s like “heck, yeah, I can do this and it’s amazing.” Hopefully, we can do more things like this across the industry.

Penny Herscher:

So you’ve got a big pipeline out of there of students who I’m sure you’d love to recruit, but they’re all, uh, living with the culture that Alan described. We’re all living with it. And so what would you tell them to do as they come into your companies, or they come into a different company. They’re all fiercely brave, right ladies? [applause] What would you tell them to do to change the culture? How can they, every one of them make a difference? They’re not the men in power, but they’re brave.

Alan Eustace:

I think the best thing that you can do is excel, and to push through whatever boundaries that you, you know, see in front of you, and, uh, just continue to push, and be great. I mean, just be super amazing great because there’s one thing that, um, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what culture and stuff like that, greatness is amazing, and people recognize greatness, and, uh, you know, it requires a lot of hard work. And you’ll see a lot of adversity along the way. I mean, you’ll have lots of people that are doubters. And you’ll have people who say the wrong things and do the wrong things, but if you build great thing, uh, people will recognize you, and uh, and know that it’s gonna be twice as hard for you. I mean, you’re gonna have to work so much harder, uh, I think, than a lot of other people potentially because you’re gonna have to overcome a lot of these unconscious biases. But you can make a big difference in your company.

We had one project at Google early on. Debbie Wollack and Fei Chang [editor’s note: I’m unsure how to spell these names. Apologies if they are misspelled.], you know, close friends of mine. They actually worked on this tiny little project in the company on, uh, trying to build a bigger index, which is kinda the heart of search, and uh, using less machines, and it was a side project. It was, uh, called blimpie at the time, and uh, and it turned out that there was a time in the history of the company where it was super important for us to raise the index size, and those two women built the core of what allowed us to create an enormous index without using a lot of machines. That was like a huge competitive advantage for the company. And they did it. That one team: two women. An amazing story, and uh, and so that, that was the best thing that I think you can do. Just excel, and work hard to excel.

Tayloe Stansbury:

If I could build on that, Alan. You can’t be in computing without being problem solvers, and this is just another class of problem. So apply your problem solving to the social dynamics and the people problems that arise just as much as you do to the technology problems, and excel, as Alan suggests, and you will solve it.

Blake Irving:

Yeah, I guess the only thing that I’d add, I think you guys both make great points. Speak up. One of the things that I’ve found is women won’t speak up, and honestly, sometimes guys don’t wanna hear them. It’s true, and speak up, be confident. Uh, you have allies, you don’t know where they are. They might be hidden. They might be some other part of the company. They care. And they’re there. Speak up and be heard.

[applause]

Penny Herscher:

And don’t ever let anybody tell you you can’t do something…ever. [laughs]

So let’s, let’s talk about the commercials because in the end um [yells from audience] no the commercial not the commercials, the commercial nature of this, in the end [Blake Irving wipes brow] [audience laughs] unless we make money, we’re all running for profit ventures, unlike Telle, we’re running for profit ventures. So how do you explain to your CFO, let’s get to the sort of the hard facts? How do you explain to your CFO why this is a good idea? Ah, the reason I’m asking this question is I think helping the audience understand that this is also about making money, and it’s not just feeling good. That I think it helps everybody just get grounded in the idea we’re running businesses.

Alan Eustace:

Well, my CFO rides a booster board. He has an electric bike. He’s like the most crazy guy that I’ve ever seen. He is as enlightened as any CFO in the entire world. I’ve never seen him wear a suit ever. Ah, um, and so uh I think he’s well primed to solve this problem, but I think in companies though this isn’t a – this is going to make better products. That’s the whole key, right. You have to build better products. And you know if you think that, and you know uh, a bunch of guys hiding over in a corner in a locker room thing. If you think that’s the path to an enlightened product, you know, for the world, then go for it. Um, but I don’t think any of us believe that. I don’t think any engineering department believes that. I don’t any executive believes that that’s the right way, and I feel like if you’re going to build the great products, you have to have a diverse workforce, and it’s gotta reflect the customers that you have. But more importantly, I feel like it’s a much better place to work. Uh, you know, I don’t wanna work in a locker room. You know, I want to work in a place where there’s a lot of people with a lot of great ideas that are free to express them. And uh, you know, I think we’re going to have better companies. We’re gonna have more profitable companies. We’re gonna have funner companies. And we’re going to, uh, you know, we can solve big and hard problems for the world. And uh, that’s what we have to do. Together.

Blake Irving:

Yeah, so, uh…

Penny Herscher:

I’m biding my time here.

Blake Irving:

My, look, I don’t necessarily agree that every exec is an enlightened as your CFO. My CFO is a thirteen year KKR guy, so he’s from private equity. Now, I will say that Scott Wagner, great guy, brilliant guy, also my chief operating officer. Um, he’s believes, and I believe this in the bottom of my heart, that if you build products for a diverse customer base, you should try as hard as you can to get your workforce, you engineering teams, to replicate that customer base as closely as you possibly can. At this conference, we’ve funded 112 students to come from both Cal Poly and Harvey Mudd to come here, and that was…pretty expensive. Uh, and Scott, who understands the value, understands the value of the recruiting pipeline, says that’s good spend. And, and that’s from a guy who doesn’t ride electric, I don’t think he has an electric vehicle. But uh, so, I mean, there are, again, there are advocates out there. There are people that support it. But it is, frankly, you said it earlier, it was either Mike or Alan said, it’s more expensive to hire women because the, frankly, the population is smaller, and that’s one of the problems Tayloe was talking about, as well, so we’re spending and we think it’s worth it.

Penny Herscher:

And we still see predominantly male, many, many predominantly male startups, so we haven’t got the venture community to understand the economics of this. How do you think we get them to understand that?

Nobody taking that one.

Alan Eustace:

Well, it’s funny you mention it because my daughter’s 14 and she loves computer science. My younger daughter’s 9 and she also likes computer science, but she and I, we often go ride our bikes out to Sand Hill Road out to Medera, which is a restaurant that’s right near. It’s as close as you could possibly get to the venture community. And one day, it was during the summer, we went up during noon on like a Thursday or something like that. And uh, and the room was filled with men, and they were all wearing suits and stuff. And my 14 year old looks at me and says, “Who are all these people?” And I said, well this is the venture capital community. They’re all, you know, doing deals at all these different tables. And she looks at me and she goes, “why are there no women?” And I said, you know, that’s a really good point. I think you should go randomly ask them. [laughter from audience and panel] And she goes, “dad, I just can’t do it.” I need to work on her assertiveness, but I uh, but I think that’s a really important question. Why isn’t it a requirement. I don’t get it.

Tayloe Stansbury:

It is a great question because you pointed out earlier, most of your customers are women. It’s true for our company, as well. Most of the small businesses we serve with quickbooks and personal finance products, tax products. Most of those are driven by women, so why is it our workforce as best as possible match our customers, so that we can understand our customers better. I can’t imagine that the same thing isn’t true for all the venture startups – that a lot of the people that they’re serving are not matched well.

Penny Herscher:

Snapchat, tinder.

[something shouted from audience]

Penny Herscher:

The audience is women.

Tayloe Stansbury:

And furthermore, we talked about the increased innovation that you get when you have a diverse team. Uh, diverse teams just think more innovative thoughts, and that’s one of the reasons we work on it pretty hard. I don’t know why venture companies wouldn’t do precisely the same thing.

Blake Irving:

Back to the speak up thing. If a guy has an idea, and he gets really pumped up about it, he’s likely to be more vocal about it, and go to try to get funding for it, etc. And back to that notion of like speak up, be heard, uh, if you have an idea, bring it forward. If you have an idea that you think is worth funding, try to do the same thing that a lot of guys do. They go to FFF, family, friends, fools, etc., and go down that path of actually telling your story. Telling what your ideas are, and executing against it. Cause in the end it’s all about the execution.

Mike Schroepfer:

I think we think this group to start more companies. It’s pretty simple. The VCs will follow the good ideas. So get out there and do some stuff.

unknown woman in audience:

Who’s gonna fund it?

[nervous laughter]

Mike Schroepfer:

Come to me.

Penny Herscher:

There you go, ladies. There you go.

Alright, so with that, I’m gonna thank my esteemed panel. I think you guy are actually very brave to take on this subject in front of a room full of women. [applause] Thank you. It’s, uh, it’s not an easy subject, and as uh, as everyone has spoken about tonight, we have a long way to go, but as somebody who’s been in this business for thirty years. I’m CEO of a company where half my board and half my management team are women. We can do it. And you are the generation that will do it. So, as Mike said, start companies and just tell everybody else to get out of the way.

Thank you so much, gentlemen.

[applause]

We’re gonna put up some resources. Do go to the NCWIT’s website. There are a lot of resources there for working with your male allies, and, uh, please enjoy the rest of the evening.

ncwit.org/ghcmaleallies

[music plays]