Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
Published by Portfolio on February 6th, 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Business
“Let’s put that spirit of innovation and embrace of radical change to good use. Seeing a more inclusive workforce in Silicon Valley will encourage more girls and women studying computer science now.”
I started a book club at work and this was our first read! As someone who’s worked at startups and continues to work at one now, this was an eye-opening book.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley is about the history of Silicon Valley becoming the tech epicentre of the world and how the early environment specifically excluded — and continues to exclude — women and marginalized groups.
You don’t have to be an engineer or work at a startup to enjoy this. You’ll find yourself understanding what sources tell Emily Chang about hostile work environments, unwanted sexual advances by higher ups, and the exasperating feeling that you’re fighting an uphill battle just by being a woman in tech.
Chang has clearly done her homework into the history of some of the biggest startups in Silicon Valley and I admire her making connections for us who aren’t immediately affected by that tech scene. She relates everything back to the universal feeling that women are all too familiar with. It’s the awkward dance of “Should I speak up or should I suffer in silence?”
I think what I liked most about the book was her calling out any and all weak arguments against diversity in Silicon Valley. She drove the point home by pointing out the flaws and having multiple stories, stats, and quotes about how diversity benefits everybody.
I personally found the first half of the book very interesting. I had no idea it all started off with the PayPal Mafia. And how about those insane and bizarre sex parties?
Chang brought up so many interesting points that I had thought about myself or had never made connections to. It was fascinating to learn about Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Ellen Pao, and more because we so often hear about the powerful men in tech. What about the women who are fighting the good fight?
This is a relevant read for women starting their careers in any field. Chang makes sure to let everybody know exactly what they shouldn’t do and what they can do to help Silicon Valley and tech become more welcoming to all people. Because what’s feminism without intersectionality?
If you’re looking for a non-fiction read for your book club, I highly recommend this. It’ll naturally bring up some great talking points. This book is a great jumping point for further discussions about how to empower women in a patriarchal society.