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Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of…

Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley (edition 2018)

by Emily Chang (Author)

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835216,952 (3.86)6
Title:Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley
Authors:Emily Chang (Author)
Info:Portfolio (2018), 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading
Tags:E-Audiobook, Feminism, Sexism, Technology, Shared Read, TIOLI, 2019

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Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang



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I enjoy Emily Chang's conversations and interviews on Bloomberg News. I also enjoyed her book. I'm not surprised by the harassment and sexual assaults on women by men who are CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs, investors etc. These men prey on vulnerable women who are looking for investment for their start-ups, contacts, promotions and career advice.

Chang provided a number of stories of sexual assault, discrimination and harassment. What angered me was the complete ineptitude of HR professionals and departments to investigate and resolve these assault issues. Women who make these charges are subject to ridicule and retribution. Many women do not report unwanted sexual behavior by men who are their superiors or even their equals.

Silicon Valley behavior towards women is no different than the slimy behavior and comments exhibited in many Hollywood casting couches, Wall Street boardrooms or in the White House Oval Office.

Read this and weep! ( )
  writemoves | Jun 17, 2019 |
Here we thought the Mad Men culture was a thing of the past. Emily Chang comes along to show us that it is going strong in the tech industry. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Jun 12, 2019 |
I don't think I would have finished this book if it weren't for book club. But, it was very well done and covered a lot of ground. It's weird to read about these events as someone who's lived in Silicon Valley and heard the news as it's broken, and there's even a chapter about Google that mentions the Google Memo (which I heard about internally before it leaked to the media). But when I talk to my parents about these issues I'm reminded that most people aren't following everything so closely from outside the techie bubble! So I actually think it's a better book for people who want to know what it's like to be a woman in Silicon Valley, rather than people who live it every day.

I don't agree with Emily Chang about everything, and I'm sure some things got cut for brevity that would have added more nuance. I think there's a lot more to be said about race and more ways for companies to improve the culture (that aren't just "hire Sheryl Sandberg"), for example. I'm impressed with how optimistic she is, and I hope things keep getting better! ( )
  jrogoff | Sep 24, 2018 |
I remember sitting down in my first classroom at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on an August day almost a decade ago. I was in orientation for the Engineering Department. Something felt very wrong. Sure, the room was weird; the desks with chairs attached and the fluorescent lighting. But that wasn't it. And then I realized—I was surrounded by almost exclusively men. In my class of more than fifty students there were only two women! I'd never been in an environment like this before, and I found it extremely uncomfortable. I dropped out of UMass after my freshman year, and who knows if more women in my engineering program might have convinced me to stay longer.

As an adolescent in the Pioneer Valley, or the Happy Valley, as some call it locally, I was steeped in feminist values. I also have always had a perverse fascination with Silicon Valley, dipping my toes in now and again. So when I heard about an upcoming book called “Brotopia,” I got it on pre-order.

I’m not familiar with the author, Emily Chang, although apparently she’s famous, running a show on Bloomberg about the tech industry. A veteran journalist, this is her first book.

You may have heard about this book as the “sex parties” text. Although there is a chapter on events that might be described as such, it was well hidden in the second half, and was just part of a much more sweeping narrative on misogyny in the high-tech industry.

Chang begins by informing us that women in tech reached a pinnacle in 1984 at 40% (not far from half). It’s now down to 25%, although that ratio is even worse when you look at VC (7%) and founder funding (2%). She discussed the ways in which privilege play out in gender. One example she explores is the theory of meritocracy. The term was modernized as a piece of satire, to be ironically adopted by an oblivious Silicon Valley. Meritocratic systems rely on a “level-playing-field,” and women are on anything but these days. Obviously, people like Peter Thiel didn’t get to the top just because they’re better than all the women...

Regardless of Chang’s personal relationship with the subject, she has chosen to relentlessly pursue the rhetoric of financial efficiency and the profit motive to justify her stance. Maybe this is becoming somewhat of a trend in Silicon Valley, the capitalist enclave that it is, after Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” Whenever we’re left wondering, “but why would gender equality be preferable?” Chang comes back to her refrain: “because your company will be more profitable.” Chang may believe that there might be non-financial motives that might justify gender equality, but the closest you’ll find to them in this text are her explorations of meritocracy. It’s indicative of just how bad things have gotten in Silicon Valley, that humanistic values have lost their appeal.

The book discusses a lot of topics that aren’t inherently bad or hurtful—for example, romantic relationships between colleagues. What do Capitol Hill, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley all have in common? Inequality of wealth and power. Why is it inappropriate for a venture capitalist to have a relationship with one of his entrepreneurs; because of the power imbalance. Chang explores this subject, but doesn’t step back to critique our systems of capitalism and colonialism that make inequalities of wealth and power (and the abuses therein) inevitable.

We might continue to see horrific episodes in these environments until they become more egalitarian—not just across the gender spectrum, but also across the spectrum of wealth and power.

This book is a must-read for anyone in tech today, and anyone interested in the #metoo movement. ( )
  willszal | Apr 14, 2018 |
A timely book about the sexism and misogyny that is unfortunately a prominent issue in the Silicon Valley and how it has hindered advancement (for women, for companies, for the entire industry). Examining everything from hiring practices to harassment to even some of the really zany stories such as sex parties Chang looks at how women in SV and surrounding culture have handled the issue and how it has affected them.

I have to agree with a lot of the negative reviews. The intriguing cover, the catchy title, etc. all got my attention. But I had a sinking feeling once I noticed that she's a host of a Bloomberg show. Nothing against Bloomberg itself, but I just don't care for books written by journalists. This is something that I find difficult to manage regardless of the journalist's area: politics, entertainment, current events, etc.

The book isn't just that interesting and does read like a whole bunch of newspaper/magazine articles thrown together. Several reviews note that there's not much beyond what you've read so if you've kept up with the culture and issues regarding the Silicon Valley there's nothing new here. Which cuts both ways: it might be a disappointment to anyone who didn't follow the various stories Chang talks about but it could also be an eye-opener if say someone is looking to live and work in the area and wasn't familiar with it in the first place.

So, depending on your needs you may be better off hunting down the various stories Chang writes about and just reading them on the internet, but I suppose if you're looking for them all in a book instead that might be a better route. Borrowed from the library and that's how I'd recommend you consume this if you're still interested in the book form. ( )
  acciolibros | Mar 19, 2018 |
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"Reveals how male-dominated Silicon Valley became sexist despite its utopian ideals and decades of companies claiming the moral high ground, and how women are finally starting to fight back against toxic workplaces and sexual harassment." --

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