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Facebook’s Board of Directors

February 7, 2012

Remember my recent post about Facebook’s new Women Connect App? Well recently an interesting little tid-bit of information seems to have come up in the news that would challenge Facebook’s new goal of involving and including women with their new app.

According to Carol Hymowitz in her article for the San Francisco Chronicle, the majority of Facebook’s users are women and yet the seven board of directors they have are all men. What this says about the potential “Male Influence on Agenda” as Hymowitz titles her article isn’t completely clear but it does not bode well for Facebook’s public image that this information is now becoming news.

The happy feminist in me would like to think that the world is an awesome place and that those seven male directors check their male-privilege and bias at the door before they make decisions, but the pessoptimist in me knows that’s a highly unlikely occurrence. Facebook Logo

In any case, I still think it’s important not to put the blame of the board directors themselves, rather, the system or person who is responsible for seating the directors, as that’s the real issue. In moments like these it seems that sometimes we are quick to demonize the people themselves rather than looking into how it happened that there are no women on the board.

And not to say that this is any excuse but other articles have pointed out that in ‘company-world’, Facebook is still a youthful 8-years-old making the board/gender issue semi-status quo for its age. But still, Facebook, if you’re going to put out a new app aimed at women, maybe you should have some women on your board? It does seem to make some nice, logical sense.

After having looked at some of the comments in the articles on the issue, it seems some people still don’t quite “get” the whole she-bang and are still fairly quick to decry that everyone who reports this as a problem are ‘crazy man-hating feminists’. One commenter here makes the point that Facebook is most likely definitely not saying “let’s purposefully keep all women off of our board” so for people to see this as an issue is being whiny when all Facebook is doing is “choosing the most qualified candidates”. (Keep in mind here, I have no idea how boards of directors work and how they even make it up there).

I’m really not good at explaining this to people. It’s my moment of failure as a feminist to not be able to explicate to someone why even though there’s not overt discrimination in hiring practices, there’s still tangibly something going on that needs to be righted. That in certain moments, along the course of a woman’s life there are little snippets of discrimination that lead to a socially constructed masculinization of the IT field that gives you a numerically less qualified women base from which to hire and that there are more issues on top of that that prevent full involvement of women.

The only way I could think to help someone understand what I’m trying to say and failing so hard at) would be to tell them to go watch the film Miss Representation and to read the book Racism Without Racists as they deal with this issue of why it’s important to actively reach out to minority groups if there’s not a reflection of the population you serve higher up hierarchically. Also, though not topically related, reading this article titled “’I need more evidence,’ and other things that probably make you a mansplainer” by Samhita Mukhopadhyay could be very elucidating as she’s way better at explaining what I wish I could be a pro at. (Also, I did indeed just end a sentence with a preposition. I don’t take it back).

And while you read those books, I’m going to go read some more awesome FemTheory and try to get a grasp on better ways of explaining how I feel about things.

Until next time!

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