Learn the key ideas of the book by Emily Hsiu-Ching Chang


A sobering look at Silicon Valley's sexist culture

Silicon Valley has a big problem: Bro Culture, which perpetuates the control over funds and business ideas by white men who are between the ages of 20 and 35, and who live by the rule ‘work hard, play hard’. All social groups that fall outside this category, and especially women, struggle to be accepted, and to be treated fairly and respectfully. Faced with sexism, gender gaps, harassment, and being overlooked for promotions, female workers have been pushed out of the IT industry, and this is having a negative impact on literally everyone. Journalist Emily Chang tackles this issue in her book, Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley.

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The absence of women in IT and technology circles is a recent issue

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to read newspaper articles reporting the continuous decline, or even absence, of women in the science, technology, and IT industries. This is sometimes justified with the false notion that women are less talented or less interested in scientific subjects; however, the people who use this argument as a way of explaining away the issue have almost certainly never studied the history of computing and science, and the contribution that women have made in these subjects over the last century. 

In the past, IT and computer programming were mostly female-dominated occupations. For example, during the Second World War, when all the men were away fighting on the frontlines, women were responsible for developing and maintaining new technologies, in order to aid communications during the conflict. Even after the war, computer science remained a female profession for decades: while men were mainly responsible for building hardware, it was women who created most of the programming languages and commands, in order to communicate with machines. 

This situation changed during the 1960s and 1970s, when rising demand for workers in the computer professions, and a consequent increase in salaries and prestige, began to attract men to the industry, and this process gradually led to the current situation.


The key ideas of "Brotopia"

The absence of women in IT and technology circles is a recent issue
Women began to be excluded from the IT sector as a result of the aptitude tests used by human resources departments
The tech sector is dominated by the PayPal Mafia, a group of men with controversial and sexist beliefs
Although some companies are attempting to reverse the trend, such as Google and Facebook, it is not enough
It is much more difficult for women in Silicon Valley to receive funding from venture capitalists
When women press charges or speak out, they are often penalised and attacked
Gender inequality in Silicon Valley does not only affect women, but everyone with a family
It is possible to improve the situation for everyone, but only if Silicon Valley acknowledges the problem
Take-home message
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