Women and the Bro-Culture

The field of technology is still very male-dominated, and because of this, a culture has developed, specifically a “bro-culture,” the equivalent to a stereotypical fraternity mixed with the tech world.[1] Over the past decades, the number of women in tech continues to decline partially because women feel ostracized and threatened by the “bro-culture.”[2]

The reasons for this feeling of isolation are simple. One, many male leaders and employees of start-ups use sexist jokes at conferences and in advertisements.[3] Second, women, who try and call out this behavior, are often verbally attacked and, thus, other women, who continue to witness this sexism, choose to suffer in silence or to just give up.[4] At one particular conference, a 28-year old executive at the social media company Path proceeded to give a talk about adding value to one’s startup. Within this talk, he made jokes about not holding “gangbang interviews,” and about sending “‘bikini shots’ from a ‘nudie calendar’” to get a job.[5] There have been other instances of offensive behavior at conferences, including a joke app called “Circle Shake,” which “measures how hard someone can shake a phone.” This required the designers to stand up a stimulate masturbation during their talk.[6]

Now these are just a few instances, where women may have been isolated by the “bro-culture.” There have been others that continue to push women to the boundaries of tech. But, when these women try and call out these male leaders on their sexist and inappropriate behavior, they are often attacked. Adria Richards, a developer for the company SendGrid, was fired after she tweeted about two male developers who made sexual jokes while sitting behind her at a conference.[7] After conference officials proceeded to escort both men out of the conference, many people took to social media to criticize Richards for “not being able to take a joke.”[8] Being harassed, threatened and, subsequently, fired are just a few things that the majority of people wish to avoid. I believe that today women continue to leave tech, or avoid it, because of “bro-culture,” which permits this kind of behavior and label it as “professional.”

[1] Macmillan, Douglas. “The Rise of the ‘Brogrammer.’” Bloomberg Businessweek: Technology. Bloomberg Businessweek, 01 Mar 2012. Web. 03 Oct 2014.

[2] Macmillan

[3] Oremus, Will. “Brogrammers Wanted.” Slate. Slate.com. 02 Aug 2012. Web. 03 Oct 2014.

[4] Kornblum, Janet. “Get with the bro-gram, ladies.” The Daily Dot. Dailydot.com. 11 Sept 2013. Web. 17 Sept 2014.

[5] Raja, Tasneem. “’Gangbang Interviews’ and ‘Bikini Shots’: Silicon Valley’s Brogrammer Problem.” Mother Jones. Mother Jones Mag., 26 Apr 2012. Web. 17 Sept 2014.

[6] Kornblum

[7] Romano, Aja. “In defense of Adria Richards and call-out culture.” The Daily Dot. Dailydot.com. 22 Mar 2013. Web. 17 Sept 2014.

[8] Holt, Kris. “How a ‘big dongle’ joke brought out the worst of the internet.” The Daily Dot. Dailydot.com 20 Mar 2013. Web. 03 Oct 2014.

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