Sex parties, drugs, bondage, blackmail: It sounds like journalistic embellishments of Stephen Glass proportions, but according to long-time reporter and media personality Emily Chang, ethical debauchery has become a way of life in Silicon Valley.
Chang, the host of Bloomberg Television and Executive Producer HBO's Silicon Valley- sought out to bring to light the plethora of issues plaguing the tech industry, sparing no uncomfortable detail via two years of investigative reporting. Chang's new book, aptly-called Brotopia, explores the ecosystem of male domination in the tech world and how it's affected women who work within it. To get the unfiltered reality from those experiencing it, Chang utilized her ample network of Valley insiders, interviewing more than 3 dozen men and women, wholely immersing herself in a world that has become synonymous with sexism.
According to Chang, one of the biggest disparities is that tech is such a progressive industry, yet has such stark inequality. In fact, she reveals that women make up just 25 percent of computing jobs, are just 7 percent of investors, and reminds us the grim truth that women got only two percent of funding last year. She also discovered that the pay gap in Silicon Valley is alarmingly high- in fact, five times the national average.
Photo courtesy of David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
“I think diversity has not been a priority," says Chang matter-of-factly. “Growth has been a priority, users have been a priority, engagement has been a priority."
Chang goes on to say that in the early days of Google, hiring women once was a priority, and because of this, women like Susan Wojcicki (the current CEO of YouTube), Sheryl Sandberg (known for radically scaling the business) and Marissa Mayer (the mind responsible for today's minimalistic-and iconic- search interface), moved their way up through the ranks, but over time the numbers fell flat. “Now Google's numbers are average just like every other company and they have quite a big pay gap," she says.
In her book, Chang further explores the Google pay gap scenario, sharing how the women at the company started speaking up about their salaries, adding them to a spreadsheet, which would go on to become a Department of Labor lawsuit. “This is a company that started out with good intentions but good intentions aren't enough," she says. “Talk isn't enough."
Chang says through writing Brotopia she also realized the extent to which mandatory contracts and non-disclosure form silence women from speaking up on issues like sexual harassment and blatant gender-based bias.“There are all these non-disclosure agreements, which unfortunately, has undermined some of the ability for some of these grassroots efforts to happen," says Chang.
Brotopia By Emily Chang
“The onus is on white men right now," Chang says. “They have the power, they have the money and I hope that after everyone reads this they know ignorance is woeful at this point. You cannot say I didn't know women were feeling this way because that is completely ridiculous because every woman I've spoken with is as frustrated as we are. The book is called Brotopia, I think that sends the message that this is a modern utopia where anyone can change the world, unless they're a woman."
Emily Chang's Greatest One-Liners
"People keep saying to me, [the tech industry] can't be worse than Wall Street. Actually, it is. Women are getting 18 percent of computer science degrees, there is no other major that has that kind of disparity."
"A moment of truth for me is that this what people believe, that in order to hire women, they have to lower their standards."
“I started writing this two years ago, before Trump was elected. I fully expected for this book to come out under the first woman president, and I had no idea that the #MeToo movement would pick up. I certainly benefited from that momentum."
“As a journalist, I've been put in uncomfortable situations. It is a male-dominated industry and often the people I'm speaking with as sources are men in powerful positions. I don't think that what I've gone through in any way compares to what a woman who is the only person in the room over and over again experience, these women talk about getting unwanted advances 24/7."
WRITTEN BYBelisa Silva