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Twitter CEO Responds to Criticism About Lack of Women Execs

As Twitter's IPO approaches, the company is being criticized for having an all-white board and only one woman on its executive team (an attorney who was hired five weeks ago). Also, although Twitter has females in VP business roles, none are in technical roles.

Twitter management has acknowledged the problem. Back in March, chief technology officer Adam Messinger told The New York Times: "Half our customers, more or less, are women, and we want to have empathy for our customers, and part of that is having a wide variety of opinions in-house. It’s also something a lot of people here think is the right thing to do." He also said, "There is definitely a supply-side problem." A New York Times writer has since suggested 25 women from a variety of industries who would "bring value beyond a checked box."

In response to the criticism, CEO Dick Costolo attacked Vivek Wadhwa, who was quoted in the NY Times article: 

Costolo Tweet
In a blog post for the Wall Street Journal, "Silicon Valley Has a Code Name for Sexism & Racism," Wadhwa asked for an apology—and flung an insult of his own:

"Yes, Costolo’s comments were inappropriate and he owes me a formal apology. But I don’t for a moment think that he is overtly sexist or that he deliberately discriminates. I think that he is reflecting a common behavior in Silicon Valley, where power brokers proudly tout their 'pattern recognition' capabilities. They believe they know a successful entrepreneur, engineer, or business executive when they see one. Sadly, the pattern is always a Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Jeff Bezos—or themselves. Nerdy white males."

And the missives continue:

  Costolo Tweet 2

Discussion Starters:

  • Some people have expressed disappointment in what they consider Costolo's defensiveness. What's your view? What could have been a better response?
  • How, if at all, do you think this controversy will affect Twitter's pending IPO? Should the issue of female management be a consideration as the comany goes public?