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Panels on sexism in tech get awkward at SXSW

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaks at “How Innovation Happens” during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival in Austin, March 16, 2015.
Amy E. Price | Getty Images for SXSW
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaks at “How Innovation Happens” during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival in Austin, March 16, 2015.

Panels addressing the extreme gender disparity in Silicon Valley had some awkward and difficult moments during the South by Southwest festival in Texas, according to a report in The Daily Dot.

Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, reportedly kept talking over former colleague and current White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, the report said. In fact, Smith was interrupted so many times that Judith Williams, head of Google's Unconscious Bias program, called Schmidt out for his behavior.

Also, Stewart Alsop, partner at the venture capital firm Alsop Louie Partners, repeatedly interrupted Sarah Buhr, a TechCrunch reporter, and former GitHub engineer Julie Ann Horvath during a panel on how to create gender-balanced startups, the report said. "[My process] has led me to understand what women like, like jewelry and dresses, and stuff like that," Alsop reportedly said, adding that women should just start their own companies and work through the sexist behavior.

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Nevertheless, SXSW did not conclude without some encouraging signs regarding sexism within the tech realm. "GTFO", a documentary addressing the harassment faced by women in the video-games industry, made its debut at the festival. Also, another group addressed how Latina moms can help their children learn coding.

Read the full report here.