Silicon Valley got all dolled up and headed to San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall last night for the awards show that “doesn’t really matter” — The Crunchies, hosted by TechCrunch and VentureBeat. From the musings I've heard, it's not really an event taken seriously so much as a place for the tech industry to congratulate itself, while forging ahead. It was also just another regular night for females in the tech industry, with only seven women accepting an award for their company.
While there were a number of issues surrounding the ceremony, one glaring problem was the lack of women both presenting awards and winning them. There were 28 male presenters and only 14 female presenters. But that’s nothing compared to the 34 men who won versus seven women who won (including Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, and Jeanie Han, CEO of Line Euro-Americans). While the awards show could’ve tried harder to set a tone for 2015 by making the event more inclusive and rewarding, it did not. For example, in the Biggest Social Impact category, Twitter beat out Girls Who Code, the nonprofit dedicated to creating a pipeline for women into tech roles. The crowning moment along this theme was when Uber won best overall startup, a company that has dealt with its drivers being accused of sexual assault and rape, while one its own executives was pinned in 2014 for wanting to investigate journalists.
The biggest post-ceremony gossip, though was about comedian and star of the HBO show Silicon Valley, T.J. Miller. The Crunchies were shaping up to be a regular awards show until Miller's second set focused on berating Gabi Holzwarth, a woman who brought her dog to the show and works at the startup company Shyp (and is also known for being Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s girlfriend). While it is ridiculous to bring a dog to a symphony hall, Miller spent too much time repeatedly calling her a bitch, as well as making a joke about her being Asian. Though Miller isn't part of the industry and wouldn't necessarily know the tough times women in tech have, his jokes set a problematic tone for the evening.
From the very beginning of the night, it was clear that the Crunchies were dedicated to pandering and pleasing tech industry giants. Even when London Breed, the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, addressed the crowd, she acknowledged that the industry has created a "tension" in the city, but “divisiveness does not solve problems." This was a nod to the protestors outside the show, who were hosting the Second Annual Crappies Awards, led by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.
As Selena Larson wrote in The Daily Dot, it’s time that the industry lead an awards show that attempts to make tech a more inclusive space, where women and minorities aren’t the punchlines.
Top photo courtesy of TechCrunch/Flickr.
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