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PayPal Promotes "Gender Equality" Panel Without Any Women

PayPal Promotes "Gender Equality" Panel Without Any Women

By Maya Kosoff

What better way to go about solving Silicon Valley's systemic gender-diversity problem than by having a team of men talk about it onstage? That seems to be the premise behind the innocuous-sounding Gender Equality and Inclusion in the Workplace panel, hosted by PayPal's diversity and women-in-tech group, Unity. A poster advertising the panel says: "Please join us for a discussion with our senior male leaders Edwin Aoki, Sri Shivananda, Jonathan Auerbach, Franz Paasche moderated by Karthik Suri about how men and women can partner to achieve a better workplace." Yes, the payments-processing company’s panel on diversity would seem to feature an entire panel of men.

PayPal claims it's one big misunderstanding. Nolwenn Godard, president of the group hosting the panel, Unity, responded with a Facebook post indicating that the full title for the event — Gender Equality and Inclusion in the Workplace: a Conversation with our Male Allies — didn't make it onto the first batch of posters.

"For this panel our intent is to bring together our male allies to work with us on gender inclusion. The title of the panel is 'Gender Equality and Inclusion in the Workplace: a Conversation with our Male Allies.' Unfortunately the full title and the intention of the panel did not make it on to the initial posters that have been the subject of commentary," she said. "We've since clarified the language to address the misunderstanding. As a woman leader at PayPal, I'm proud of steps PayPal has taken to help promote gender equality in the workplace. This panel is intended to emphasize that women and men need to work together to advance this cause."

The fact remains that building a gender-diversity panel of "male allies" with no female representation is shortsighted at best and emblematic of Silicon Valley's gender problem. Women in tech face an uphill battle even when they graduate from top schools with engineering degrees. In 2015, Sequoia Capital’s Michael Moritz said that what his firm was "not prepared to do is to lower our standards," when asked about hiring diverse candidates. Seventy percent of Google's tech employees, 87 percent of Twitter's, and 84 percent of Facebook's are men. PayPal, too, lags behind: of the 18 executives on its leadership team, only three are women.

More From Vanity Fair:
• Silicon Valley Firm Can't Find Any Women
• Can Google Solve Silicon Valley's Gender Problem
• Harvard Club Invites Women for First Time in History
• An Affirmative Action Reality Check

Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu via AP