SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While the #MeToo movement has cast light on toxic male behavior in politics and the entertainment world, a new book focusing on the so-called “Bro Culture” of the Silicon Valley has sparked a debate over challenges women face in the tech world.
Written by San Francisco-based Bloomberg tech reporter Emily Chang, the book — “Brotopia: Breaking Up The Boys’ Club Of Silicon Valley” — has caused a quake to rumble through the tech headquarters and VC offices in the Bay Area.
“I interviewed women who work at Uber who said they were invited to strip clubs and bondage clubs in the middle of the day,” Chang told KPIX 5. “It put them in an incredibly uncomfortable position…”
Chang’s book explores sexism in the Valley – what caused it, and what to do about it. Part of it details drug-heavy, sex-heavy parties thrown by the Technorati.
Quoting a female entrepreneur – Chang writes: “There is this undercurrent of a feeling like you’re prostituting yourself in order to get ahead because, let’s be real, if you’re dating someone powerful, it can open doors for you.”
She told KPIX 5 that such behavior puts women in a very difficult position.
“I spoke with female entrepreneurs who felt they were damned if they did, they were damned if they didn’t,” Chang said. “If they went to these parties potentially to get access to some of these powerful people they would be discredited, and if they didn’t go they’d be shut out of potentially important networking opportunities”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk criticized Chang’s description of the sex party – telling Wired magazine the alleged event was boring and corporate.
“If you go to a party, five different people will have five different stories about what happened at that party,” Chang said. “I spoke to several people who felt uncomfortable, men and women who reported drug use and one woman in particular who was pressured into sexual activity and given drugs.”
Chang says the A-list social scene is an important piece of what’s happening more broadly in the valley. It’s a lopsided power dynamic.
“There are so many women out there who are building so many amazing things,” she said. “I think about all of the women who never got a chance to be Mark Zuckerberg or start the next Facebook. How different the world might be if women had a seat at the table of the internet in the very beginning.”