Uncovering 'bro culture' in Silicon Valley

Emily Chang spent two years interviewing 300 people about the so-called bro culture in Silicon Valley for her hot new book Brotopia. She stopped by Fox 5 to talk to me about the book and why it's beyond time we get more women in tech and break up the boys' club.

Brotopia is about how women have been left out of the greatest wealth creation in the world, Emily says. In her mind, the title captures the idea that Silicon Valley is a modern utopia where anyone can change the world or make their own rules--if they're a man.

In Brotopia, her first book, the host of Bloomberg Technology blows up the toxic sexist culture rampant in Silicon Valley. Emily says she spoke to women at Uber who were invited to strip clubs and bondage clubs in the middle of the day.

She also talks about Susan Fowler, an engineer at Uber, who was propositioned for sex by her manager on her first day on the job. Emily says Susan took screenshots of the exchange, which happened over company chat, and when she reported it to human resources they told her they weren't going to do anything about it because the manager involved was a high performer.

So how is this similar to and how is it different from what happened to women on Wall Street in years past? As she was writing the book, Emily says, people kept telling her there was no way Silicon Valley was worse than Wall Street.

She says, in fact, it is. If you look at the top banks, Emily says, men and women are about 50/50. The banks have a lot of work to do putting women in leadership roles, but Emily says, by comparison, women in Silicon Valley make up just 25 percent of the computing jobs and 7 percent of investors. Women-led companies, she says, get 2 percent of funding.

And the pay gap is astounding. Emily firmly believes that the people who are taking us to Mars, building self-driving cars, and who have given us rides at the push of a button can hire women and pay them fairly. But, the pay gap in Silicon Valley, she says, is five times the national average.

If you still don't believe that gender discrimination in Silicon Valley is that bad, just ask someone who has been seated on both sides of the table. In Brotopia, Emily interviews a young woman, an engineer at Uber, who for the first 20 years of her life presented as a man. As soon as she started presenting as a woman her life completely changed. People started interrupting her in meetings and treating her differently.

Emily talks about Uber a lot in this story and in her book. Uber has had huge problems with company culture and gender discrimination but it has a new CEO and are making dramatic changes.

Uber is not the only company with these kinds of issues. PayPal and venture firms Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers and Sequoia Capital have all been accused of and are dealing with gender inequality.

Emily believes the problem is widespread in Silicon Valley and the best way to start changing it is simple: hire more women.


Brotopia book page

Emily Chang on Bloomberg