A Brand New World In Which Men Ruled

Jodi Kantor in the NYTimes (via Longreads):

Top_1920In the history of American higher education, it is hard to top the luck and timing of the Stanford class of 1994, whose members arrived on campus barely aware of what an email was, and yet grew up to help teach the rest of the planet to shop, send money, find love and navigate an ever-expanding online universe.

They finished college precisely when and where the web was stirring to life, and it swept many of them up, transforming computer science and philosophy majors alike into dot-com founders, graduates with uncertain plans into early employees of Netscape, and their 20-year reunion weekend here in October into a miniature biography of the Internet…

The reunion told a more particular strand of Internet history as well. The university, already the most powerful incubator in Silicon Valley, embarked back then on a bold diversity experiment, trying to dismantle old gender and racial barriers. While women had traditionally lagged in business and finance, these students were present for the creation of an entirely new field of human endeavor, one intended to topple old conventions, embrace novel ways of doing things and promote entrepreneurship…

Yet instead of narrowing gender gaps, the technology industry created vast new ones, according to interviews with dozens of members of the class and a broad array of Silicon Valley and Stanford figures. “We were sitting on an oil boom, and the fact is that the women played a support role instead of walking away with billion-dollar businesses,” said Kamy Wicoff, who founded a website for female writers.

Read the rest here.