Sarah Holder is a staff writer at CityLab covering local policy, affordable housing, labor, and technology.
Sure, the bidding war for Amazon’s headquarters might hurt cities. But I couldn’t help but wonder: Would it also help me find a boyfriend?
After reporting on the Amazon bidding war for several months, I think I have finally determined the perfect region in which to locate an HQ2, for me, a single girl in Washington, D.C., specifically: Washington, D.C.
Okay, hear me out for a second. I know all the shortlist options are, like, special in their own ways, and believe me, I know there are issues with the whole Amazon HQ2 situation writ large. Bidding wars hurt cities, and an Amazon HQ2 in D.C. would probably wreak more than a bit of economic and infrastructural havoc. (Read CityLab. We cover that.)
But as Valentine’s Day nears, I couldn’t help but wonder…would the hunt for Amazon HQ2 also help me find a boyfriend?
Jeff, just HUMOR ME, please.
Amazon says it’ll bring 50,000 jobs to wherever it locates. My hypothesis is admittedly less about the actual qualifications of those employees, and more about the sheer, physical mass of human male beings who, simply because of heinous gender disparities in the tech industry, will flourish wherever Amazon chooses to plant its second HQ seed. It’s less about the implicit choice between coding bros and Republican Hill staffer bros, and more about the influx of Man that will inevitably populate the 8 million square feet of an Amazon HQ2 campus, many of whom are between 22-29 years old—and one of whom I might, maybe, actually want to date.
Let’s run the numbers here. Sixty-one percent of the more than 500,000 people Amazon employs globally are people that are men, and 75 percent of managerial roles are filled by people that are also men. (No lady bosses? *chef’s kiss* Just as I hoped.)
A 30,500-fold man-boost would surely make a significant dent in the D.C. dating pool. At this very moment, about 103,755 of the city’s residents are between the ages of 22 and 29. For my purposes, there are 46,292 male contenders to the more than 57,000 women. Not all of them are straight, of course (nor, for that matter, are all Amazon employees). And according to this Martin Prosperity Institute map from 2015, not a ton of them are available to “Add to Cart,” if you will. (That’s Amazon-speak for “single.”)
The pink dots represent places with lots of single women; the blue dots are concentrated with single men (color-coded gender essentialism at its worst, but bear with me).
Here at CityLab, we’re all about Analyzing Geography via Visual Representations, and it’s hard to miss the aggressive cluster of #singleladies skewed over here on the Eastern side of the country. The massive pink orb over the Capital represents how many more single women there are than men, and it is also coincidentally the approximate size of the gaping chasm of despair that creeps in after I’ve swiped left on 20 of the same sort of Tinder guy posing in front of the White House Press Briefing podium. (65,000 people wide, to be more precise).
Choosing other HQ2 contender sites could help different straight single women find love, too, I guess. New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia’s ratios are a bit more dire (230,000; 80,000; and 70,000 more single women than men, respectively). And this Valentine’s Day in the year of our lord 2018, more people are alone than ever before, pretty much everywhere.
Over on the Silicon Valley/Seattle side of things, they have more than enough single men to spare. (Ask James Damore why, he’ll be more than happy to explain.) Amazon: in bequeathing an HQ2, you will have great power to redistribute this wealth.
And sure, many of them will be complicit in an employment structure that is 66 percent white; one that only elevated 3.7 percent of all African-American workers to mid-level jobs and reportedly employed zero black executive or senior management employees as of 2016.
That means the homogeneous, Tindrous sea of men pretending to be press secretary and/or wearing an American flag muscle tee, and the heart-chasm that accompanies them, could only balloon—and that the structural forces that wedge inequities in the tech sphere and beyond will only proliferate. That’s not to mention the gentrification, and rental-price spikes, and displacement, and blank-check incentives that could ravage any city once the company gets there.
Upon further reflection, I think I changed my mind.
Amazon, please pick L.A.