Why can’t tech fix its gender problem?

Not competing in this Olympics, but still contributing to the industry’s success, were the thousands of women who worked in the Valley’s microchip factories and other manufacturing facilities from the 1960s to early 1980s. Some were working-class Asian and Mexican-American whose mothers and grandmothers worked in the orchards and fruit canning factories of the Valley before the war. Others are recent immigrants from the East and Midwest, white and often college-educated, in need of income, and interested in technical work.

With fewer other technical jobs available to them in the Valley, women will work for lower wages. The preference of women in the chains has helped keep wages in the region’s factories lowest in the country. Women continue to dominate high-tech assembly lines, even though most factories are now located thousands of miles away. In 1970, the first American-owned Mexican production line employed 600 workers, nearly 90 percent of whom were women. Half a century later, this pattern continues: in 2019, women make up 90% of the workforce at a giant iPhone assembly plant in India. Female makeup production worker 80% of Vietnam’s entire technology workforce.

Joint Venture: “The Boys Club”

Chipmaking’s fiercely competitive and unusually demanding management culture proved to be influential, filtering out first-generation semiconductor millionaires as they deployed their wealth and management experience in the region. other companies. But venture capital is where the semiconductor culture has had its longest shadow.

The Valley’s early venture capitalists were a tight-knit group of mostly young men managing the money of much older, much richer men. At first, few of them booked a table at a San Francisco restaurant, convening the founders to pitch everyone at once. So many opportunities have passed, it doesn’t matter if a deal goes to someone else. Charter members such as Silicon Valley venture capitalist Reid Dennis call it “The Corporation.” Other observers, such as journalist John W. Wilson, call it the “Boys Club”.

From left: Gordon MOORE, C. Sheldon ROBERTS, Eugene KLEINER, Robert NOYCE, Victor GRINICH, Julius BLANK, Jean HOERNI and Jay LAST.
The men who left the Valley’s first silicon chip maker, Shockley Semiconductor, to start Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 were known as the “Traitors.”


The venture business was expanding in the early 1970s, even as the bear market made it a terrifying time to raise money. But the companies founded and led by semiconductor veterans during this period became the ones that shaped the industry. Gene Kleiner left Fairchild Semiconductor to co-found Kleiner Perkins, whose long list of celebrity members includes Genentech, Sun Microsystems, AOL, Google, and Amazon. Master threat actor Don Valentine founded Sequoia Capital, making early-stage investments in Atari and Apple, and later in Cisco, Google, Instagram, Airbnb, and many others.

Generations: “Pattern Recognition”

Silicon Valley venture capitalists leave their mark not just by choosing who to invest in, but by advising and shaping the entrepreneurial viability of the people they’ve funded. They are more than bankers. They are mentors, professors, and fathers to young, inexperienced men who often know a lot about technology and nothing about how to start and grow a business.

“This model of one generation succeeding and then turning around to provide the next generation of entrepreneurs with financial support and management expertise,” Silicon Valley historian Leslie Berlin writes, “One of the most important and unrecognized secrets to Silicon Valley’s continued success.” Technology leaders agree with Berlin’s assessment. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs – who learned most of what he knew about business from men in the semiconductor industry – likened it to pass a baton in a relay race.

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