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Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley

Emily Chang

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Instant National Bestseller

A PBS NewsHour-New York Times Book Club Pick!

"Excellent." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Brotopia is more than a business book. Silicon Valley holds extraordinary power over our present lives as well as whatever utopia (or nightmare) might come next." --New York Times

Silicon Valley is a modern utopia where anyone can change the world. Unless you're a woman.

For women in tech, Silicon Valley is not a fantasyland of unicorns, virtual reality rainbows, and 3D-printed lollipops, where millions of dollars grow on trees. It's a "Brotopia," where men hold all the cards and make all the rules. Vastly outnumbered, women face toxic workplaces rife with discrimination and sexual harassment, where investors take meetings in hot tubs and network at sex parties.

In this powerful exposé, Bloomberg TV journalist Emily Chang reveals how Silicon Valley got so sexist despite its utopian ideals, why bro culture endures despite decades of companies claiming the moral high ground (Don't Be Evil! Connect the World!)--and how women are finally starting to speak out and fight back.

Drawing on her deep network of Silicon Valley insiders, Chang opens the boardroom doors of male-dominated venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins, the subject of Ellen Pao's high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit, and Sequoia, where a partner once famously said they "won't lower their standards" just to hire women. Interviews with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer--who got their start at Google, where just one in five engineers is a woman--reveal just how hard it is to crack the Silicon Ceiling. And Chang shows how women such as former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, entrepreneur Niniane Wang, and game developer Brianna Wu, have risked their careers and sometimes their lives to pave a way for other women.

Silicon Valley's aggressive, misogynistic, work-at-all costs culture has shut women out of the greatest wealth creation in the history of the world. It's time to break up the boys' club. Emily Chang shows us how to fix this toxic culture--to bring down Brotopia, once and for all.

"[Chang] is clearly engaged with and often incensed by her subject, and the best parts of Brotopia are those moments when she actively resists the 'it's all good' ethos of the Bay Area and cuts down chauvinism with the disdain it deserves." -New York Times

"Brotopia goes far beyond the salacious to offer an important examination of why the technology industry is so dominated by men-and how women are pushing back." -Financial Times

"When reading Brotopia, it's easy to envision it as a film.... Women who have triumphed in tech despite the odds...could be the film's heroines, and so would the young girls learning how to code despite it all." -The Verge

"...Chang's scrutiny breaks open a wide doorway, allowing fresh ideas about a tainted industry to circulate and spark discussions." -Kirkus Review

Emily Chang is the anchor and executive producer of Bloomberg Technology, a daily TV show focused on global technology and Bloomberg Studio 1.0, where she regularly speaks to top tech executives, investors, and entrepreneurs. She was previously a CNN correspondent based in Beijing and London, and has won five regional Emmy awards for her reporting. She is a graduate of Harvard University and lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 336
Erscheinungsdatum 05.03.2019
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-525-54017-5
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 21.1/13.6/2.5 cm
Gewicht 286 g


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    Lena Söderberg started out as just another Playboy centerfold. The twenty-one-year-old Swedish model told the magazine she'd left her native Stockholm for Chicago because she'd been swept up in "America Fever." In November 1972, Playboy returned her en- thusiasm by featuring her, under the name Lenna Sjööblom, in its signature spread. If Söderberg had followed the path of her predeces- sors, her image would have been briefly famous, then relegated to gathering dust under the beds of teenage boys. But one particular photo of Lena Söderberg would not fade into obscurity. Instead, her face would become as famous and recognizable as Mona Lisa's-not to most Americans, but to everyone studying computer science for the next half a century.

    In engineering circles, some refer to Lena as the first lady of the internet. But others call her the industry's original sin, the first step in Silicon Valley's exclusion of women. Both views stem from an event that took place back in 1973 at a University of Southern California computer lab, where a team of researchers, led by William Pratt, PhD, was trying to turn physical photographs into digital bits. The work would pave the way for the development of the JPEG, a compression scheme that allows large image files to be efficiently trans- ferred between devices. But the JPEG was far into the future. In 1973, researchers needed to test their algorithms on suitable pho- tos-pictures full of detail and texture. And their search for the ideal test photo led them to Lena.

    Until now, the role of Dr. William Pratt in the choice of Lena's photo has been completely unknown. I tracked Pratt down thanks to a passing lead on an old message board. He had left USC to take a job at Sun Microsystems and was working pro bono at Stanford Hospital, scouring MRIs and CT scans.

    In a telephone interview, Pratt explained how he and his team had just received a large grant from ARPA (today known as DARPA), a Department of Defense agency that would lay the groundwork for the invention of the internet. The grad students were gathering pho- tos that would provide good test subjects for their algorithms. Con- veniently, a student had recently brought in a copy of the previous November's Playboy. "I think they were enjoying the magazine, and it just happened to be there," Pratt told me. When I asked if he or any of the grad students had been concerned that using Playboy pho- tos for their research might offend anyone, he said that issue simply didn't come up.

    Pratt's team flipped through the glossy magazine looking for usable images. "I said, 'There are some pretty nice-looking pictures in there,'" he remembered, "and the grad students picked the one that was in the centerfold." The full three-page spread of Lena, wearing boots, a boa, and a floppy, feathered hat, shows her bare backside and one exposed breast. But because the 1970s-era scanners they were exper- imenting with were much smaller than current models, the chosen photo was cropped into a relatively chaste square in which Lena looks suggestively over her bare shoulder.

    From a technical standpoint, Pratt told me, Lena's photo was ideal because all the different colors and textures made it a challenge to process. "She is wearing a hat with a big feather on it with lots of high-frequency detail that is difficult to code," he said.

    Over the next several years, Pratt's team developed a whole library of digital images not from Playboy. The original data set included photos of a brightly colored mandrill, a rainbow of bell peppers, and several photos of other fully clothed women simply titled "Girl." Scanners were relatively rare at that time, so they made some of this library available for other imaging scientists to test their algorithms. "One of the things you want to do is compare your work to others in the field," Pratt said, "and in ord