Twitter co-founder and Square chief executive officer Jack Dorsey offered a view into the gender gap in Silicon Valley with a photo he tweeted Tuesday afternoon of his lunch with Square's interns: of the thirteen smiling staffers gathered around a conference table for crustless sandwiches with the Silicon Valley CEO, not a single one was female.
"Lunch with the @Square interns. Featuring little sandwiches with the crust cut off. #aw #summerbreak #backtosquare," Dorsey tweeted, with a link to a photo showing his view of the beaming team.
Dorsey acknowledged as much on Twitter. In response to a tweet from Anil Dash asking whether any of Square's interns were women, Dorsey replied, "[N]ot in this batch. We'd love to find some." Dash advised Dorsey to consult the "great pattern to build off of" provided by Etsy, which has made a concerted effort to hire more female engineers, to which Dorsey replied, "we will research."
My own tweet to Dorsey asking him to spell out the obstacles to hiring female interns has (so far) gone unanswered. We've also reached out to Square to comment on the matter. (UPDATE: A Twitter spokeswoman told The Huffington Post, "As Jack said, we would love to hire some.")
(UPDATE II: Dorsey offered the following reply to my question --"what were obstacles to hiring female interns this time around?no qualified? no interested female candidates? " -- on Twitter: "@bbosker we made offers to female candidates & they chose other opportunities for various reasons. We continue to make offers; a priority." As Pipeline Fellows founder and CEO Natalia Oberti Noguera points out, that raises even more questions: "Did you dig deeper into reasons (i.e., culture)?" she tweeted in response to Dorsey's reply.)
(UPDATE III: And here's Dorsey's reply: "@nakisnakis @bbosker yes. Interning is about learning. Sometimes what one wants is very specific. Not every opportunity provides the same.")
Square, to its credit, has a number of women in leadership roles at the company: its CFO, Sarah Friar, is a woman, and social media personality Alyssa Milano is an advisor to the company. And unlike many Silicon Valley startups, Square has a woman, venture capitalist Mary Meeker, on its board. Facebook only added its first female board member after its public offering -- and after considerable outside pressure. However, Twitter, where Dorsey services as chairman, still has an all-male board. (UPDATE IV: Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, whose organization has partnered with Twitter to increase the number of young women pursuing technical careers, tweeted that Dorsey "was instrumental in helping us launch @girlswhocode -- I can attest to his commitment to changing the ratio.")
While the photo might put Square in the spotlight, the entire industry has struggled with a gender imbalance that starts even before the workplace. Women received just 18 percent of engineering bachelor's degrees in 2010, according to the American Society for Engineering Education, and receive 20 percent of all bachelor's degrees in computer science awarded in the U.S., according to NPR. Perhaps Silicon Valley can learn a thing or two from Silicon Alley on how to change the ratio. Though women still make up a minority of startup founders, the ratio of female-founded companies in New York is double what it is in the Bay Area.
Dorsey's reply, via Twitter: