If you keep up with the literary reviews in publications like the New York Times, the Financial Times, or the San Francisco Chronicle, you’ve probably noticed that Emily Chang’s new book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys Club of Silicon Valley has been getting a lot of attention lately.
Brotopia examines the male-dominated workplaces of the technology industry and looks at how gender-based discrimination and sexism have become part of the culture of Silicon Valley. As technology plays an increasingly central role in our lives, the status of women in tech has become an important topic. As the New York Times put it, “This is more than a work force issue, and “Brotopia” is more than a business book.”
Brotopia has generated a lot of buzz, so we were pleased (but not at all surprised) to learn that Emily Chang is also a resident of Bernal Heights.
Neighbor Emily tells Bernalwood:
I started writing Brotopia two years ago, long before Trump and #metoo and had no idea this issue would explode in the public consciousness just as I was about to publish. I have been covering Silicon Valley for eight years on Bloomberg TV and, while tech has changed our lives in so many wondrous ways, I was perplexed by the staggering underrepresentation of women across this supposedly progressive industry. Women account for 25% of computing jobs, 7% of investors, and women-led companies only get 2% of funding.
As I began researching the topic, I discovered a lot that surprised me about how and why this happened. In fact, women were well-represented in tech’s early days and programmed computers for the military and NASA (think Hidden Figures, but industry-wide) and then, for various reasons — which you’ll have to read in the book! — they got pushed and profiled out. The book examines how and why women have been left out of the biggest wealth creation in the history of the world, why it matters and what we can do about it. It includes over 300 interviews with everyone from Sheryl Sandberg to Tim Cook and engineers at companies like Facebook, Google and Uber.
I spent many afternoons typing away at Progressive Grounds (chai tea latte and turkey/sundried tomato sandwich please!) and holing up in our Bernal bedroom listening to my three sons wreak havoc downstairs while my incredibly supportive husband tried to keep the peace. It wasn’t an easy endeavor — talking about sexism is kind of like walking the third rail — but I hope this book starts a meaningful conversation.
This is an industry that is controlling what we see and read, how we shop and communicate, making our children’s video games and social media. It’s not just tech’s problem, but everyone’s problem and I fully believe the people who changed the world can change this too.