"Brotopia" explores the roots of Silicon Valley's sexism problem

"Brotopia" author on Silicon Valley sexism
"Brotopia" author on Silicon Valley sexism 04:33

Silicon Valley might be a place of incredible innovation. But some say what needs to change most is its own business culture. A new book by Bloomberg journalist Emily Chang dives into that topic and claims that the tech industry is rife with sexism and the mistreatment of women – both workers and investors.

In "Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley" Chang explores not just the culture itself but what caused it and what to do about it.


Chang told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" she was most surprised by how bad behavior had been normalized for so long.

"So much of business in Silicon Valley is happening is outside the office, at the party, at the bar, the hotel lobby. Sometimes in the hot tub," she said. "Business and social lives are increasingly intertwined and that creates this really gray area where women are being put in uncomfortable positions, whether they're an engineer at Uber or an entrepreneur raising money."

According to Chang, the statistics in tech are far worse than the financial world with women making up 25 percent of jobs in the computing industry and only seven percent of investors.  

In the book she also argues that the tech industry created its own "pipeline problem" decades ago when it started relying on personality tests to identify what makes a good programmer.

"They decided good programmers didn't like people," Chang said. "These tests became widely influential … And it's perpetuated the stereotype of the anti-social mostly white male nerd that many people imagine when they think about computers and starting companies like Facebook."

The book also details drug-fueled sex parties and interviews in hot tubs that she says are not uncommon in the tech scene.  

Ellen Pao on Silicon Valley's bias 07:34

"In a lot of ways it's a lot less about sex and more about power and the power dynamic is completely lopsided. The women in particular, these are women who as I said are already facing several challenges when it comes to raising money, if they go to these parties they feel like they're discredited, they're not gonna get funding. If they don't go, they feel like they're missing out on a networking opportunity because the people holding these parties are incredibly powerful."

Asked if the #MeToo movement has made its way to Silicon Valley yet, Chang pointed to figures like Ellen Pao, who sued her venture capital firm back in 2012 for gender discrimination, and software engineer Susan Fowler, who spoke out about sexual harassment at Uber.

"She (Ellen Pao) lost in 2015, but she sort of won in the court of public opinion and that opened the door for more women to come forward but it didn't happen right away," Chang said. "It doesn't get as much attention because it's not Reese Witherspoon or Rose McGowan, but it's happening to women in Silicon Valley every day."