The Obstacle to Becoming a VC is Financial, Not Gender, Inequality

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.19.35 PMStart you own venture firm. That’s the advice that one of the industry’s first women VCs, Kathryn Gould, gave to other women, and it came to mind yesterday as I watched an interview given to journalist Emily Chang this week by longtime Sequoia Capital investor Michael Moritz.

As you’ve likely heard by now, Chang asked Moritz about Sequoia’s responsibility to hire women, as Sequoia has no female investment partners on its U.S. investment team.

Adjusting his collar uncomfortably, Moritz said he’d like to think that the firm is “blind to somebody’s sex, to their religion, to their background.” He added that there is, in his view, a pipeline problem to explain the dearth of women at Sequoia. “I think the issue begins in our high schools, and where women particularly in America and also in Europe, tend to elect not to study the sciences when they’re 11 or 12. So suddenly the hiring pool is much smaller.”

Asked if Sequoia might not be looking hard enough, Moritz said that Sequoia “looks very hard . . . We just hired a young woman from Stanford who is every bit as good as her peers and if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do is to lower our standards.”

Numerous outlets have since suggested that Moritz put his foot in his mouth by associating women with low standards. Facebook commenters were no more generous, with some smartly pointing out that Moritz himself was a history major.

I’m not going to defend Moritz. But focusing anger at him, or at Andreessen Horowitz, or at Benchmark, or Accel Partners (none of which employ any female general partners, save for Accel’s Sonali De Rycker in London), is somewhat misguided.

More here.

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