Most people talk about how Silicon Valley is dominated by white men, but what about white women in tech? That’s who people should be wary of, according to tech insider Britt Caldwell, a white woman who, until recently, worked at software company Webflow until she quit.
White women are the most dangerous defenders of white supremacy in Silicon Valley, Caldwell wrote in an article in Medium.
“After two years at Webflow, I am saying goodbye to more than just a job I once loved,” Caldwell wrote. “I’m risking the most important possession I’ve acquired. The very thing that I’ve sacrificed family, friends, and good health to attain—my career—to speak my truth.”
There are reasons why white women in tech want to maintain the status quo, Caldwell wrote. White women help a company put a checkmark on its “diversity” to-do list. White women sort of “fit in,” she wrote, and they are benefactors of white supremacy.
“We don’t feel like total strangers in the boardroom. Men can and do applaud themselves for adding a single white woman to their executive team or board of directors; it’s even considered a major milestone achievement in their ‘commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she wrote.
White women in tech benefit from the male white supremacy in Silicon Valley, according to Caldwell. “White women often ascend the ranks in supremely toxic work environments, adopting and also benefiting from the same white supremacy that steps on the necks of their sisters and daughters along the way. The more they exhibit authoritarianism, the higher they progress.”
Caldwell explained that, “While men are inescapably the biggest perpetrators and creators of white supremacy … once a white woman benefits and profits from the system, she becomes its fiercest advocate.”
Some on Twitter thanked Caldwell for speaking out.
“As a black man, I’ve never ‘been allowed’ to discuss these things. I’m sorry that you had to go through this, and appreciate your bravery,” Jim Gibbs @heezo tweeted.
A women who works in tech tweeted, “As a Black woman that has been on the receiving end of what you’ve shared, just want to say I appreciate your bravery in saying and doing what many turn a ‘blind eye’ to in order to gate keep business as usual.”
Business designer and strategist Alison @YouSoFancy tweeted, “Thank you for coming at them, for calling them out, and owning your role in being complicit. Wishing you a healthy recovery, I know burnout and toxicity well like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Burn that shit down.”
Among the powerful women in Silicon Valley who some might accuse of reinforcing the white supremacy status quo are YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.
Sandberg famously promoted her opinion that women in corporate America just need to “lean in” and become more committed to climbing the corporate ladder. It’s advice that she touted in her bestselling book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” Problem is, many Black women can’t “lean in.”
Michelle Obama once said of Sandberg’s strategy, “that shit doesn’t work all the time,” People of Color in Tech reported.
Mindy Harts, founder of The Memo, noted “’Lean In’ was well-intentioned and opened up the conversation, but, you cannot effectively talk about leaning in for Black or brown women without discussing the role that race plays and the barriers to even enter the room for a seat at the table.”
Harts added, “’Lean In’ didn’t talk about race and it was written from a white-privileged women’s perspective for predominantly other white women. One size doesn’t fit all.”
On Wojcicki’s watch, YouTube was accused of propagating white supremacy, peddling conspiracies, and profiting from it all. Only in 2019 after pressure from Congress did the platform create new policies to crack down on hate speech and “supremacist” views.
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