Surprise! Industry events still haven’t fixed tech’s diversity problems

TechCrunch Disrupt, taking place in San Francisco this week, has an image problem, the SF Chronicle reports. At the 2013 event, “a couple of tech bros pitched a photo-sharing app called Titstare [and] another contestant feigned masturbation on stage.” So it’s a sign of progress that this year’s proceedings featured high-profile women and people of color. 

But there are at least two reasons why even the most diverse industry events probably won’t meaningfully improve diversity in tech. 

1. While industry leaders agree diversity matters in principle (72% of tech founders in one recent study said it does) fewer than a quarter believe it positively impacts the bottom line, despite reams of research showing otherwise.

2. The people holding the purse strings are still mostly white dudes. Until investment funds like this one are no longer the exception to the rule, once-a-year conferences may be more about optics than impact.RB