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Last year, Hidden Figures got me started on biography binge, devouring every book I could find on the accomplishments of trailblazing women in STEM. They left me inspired, empowered, and somewhat confused – how did the tech industry go from being built by the likes of Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper to the dire state of imbalance and discrimination that exists today? In Brotopia, Emily Chang answers that very question. She picks up where those stories left off, telling us exactly how women were systematically shut out a field that they helped create.
The book has been making waves for exposing some of Silicon Valley’s more salacious practices – think “optional” team bonding events and career-defining fundraising meetings set at strip clubs and in hot tubs. However, what really sets it apart are its revelations about the subtle and sometimes even unintentional forms of exclusion and intimidation. The little things - putting tech toys in the "boys' section" of the toy store until far too recently, universities choosing a provocative photo from Playboy as the standard rubric for whether or not students have built a successful image compression algorithm - these are the insights that make Brotopia the perfect read for a generation trying to change the norms that have necessitated the #MeToo movement.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Brotopia?
Just finished "Brotopia", Emily Chang's much-anticipated study of the ingrown biases against women (and minorities) in Silicon Valley.
Working in tech (albeit in Seattle and on the sales end of the business) and raising two girls, I felt both pride for Chang's efforts and shame for the indifference with which I unkowingly embody the industry's biases against women.
Her tact was calculated and brilliant. While all of the write-ups on the book focus on the salacious details (and there are countless that make you ill), Chang begins with and continues to return to the fundamentals of a system that is inherently biased. Simple things like boys being targeted by toy companies selling entry-level computers goes so easily unnoticed, but if you hand a 3-year-old boy a simple computer and a 3-year-old girl a doll, who is more-likely to leave Stanford with a computer science degree 20 years later?
This is as important a book as has been written on the tech industry in years. You may love it. You may hate every word of it. But as tech becomes less about the technology and more about the user-experience, we cannot ignore 51% of the population.
The biases in the industry are no longer a problem for women, but a problem for us all.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
It is a shameful ‘story’ and many in Silicon Valley should be hanging their heads in shame. The book is thoroughly researched, concise and well narrated. Highly recommended. It will give you a very different perspective on what seemingly passes for work in the Valley.
this was one of the most well researched books on silicon valley I have come across.
Well done Emily, its a game changing book. Well researched, written and narrated.
I was shocked, intrigued and disappointed at big tech and their failures and yet I remain hopeful that we can make a difference.