As a person with a career in technology, I have a rule: Don’t read technical books in your free time. My intention is to take advantage of my private time to read fiction, sci-fi or topics that have nothing to do with my profession. However, in 2016 I made an exception because I had a lot of new topics to learn from and one of them, was Venture Capital. Because of my ignorance on these topics and my need to learn, I read a couple of technical books in my free time, one of them being: “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley”.
This book had great reviews from people that I respect and from what I would call good sources. The NYTimes called this book a “must read that honestly deconstruct a corner of the world that has amassed breathtaking cultural, economic and political influence” and TechCrunch said this book was “the best non-business book about business”. And even though the book absolutely delivers on its promise of explaining the inside and outs of Silicon Valley. I can honestly say that it is one of the most sexists book that I have read in my not so short life.
In the book, Antonio García uses women as props, being there to either and fulfill some fantasy or as an ornament. The book has several examples, but I will sum up some of the most important for me :
- He compares Venture Capitals firms reputation with how hot their receptionists are [Page 124]
- The book calls Bay Area women “soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit. They have their self-regarding entitlement feminism and ceaselessly want their independence, but the reality is come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, they become precisely the sort of useless baggage you trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerrycan of diesel” [Page 57]
- This quote: “a capped note is like having to seduce five women one after the other, while an equity round is having to convince five women to do a fivesome with you. The latter is exponentially harder than the former” [Page 115]
In a time when we have discovered that Silicon Valley has a serious diversity problem and that Venture Capitalists hesitate to fund startups with women funders. It is outrageous and maddening find this content in the praised books of the industry. Now, the book does offer several nudges of knowledge that can be extremely helpful for the entrepreneurial community. However, as a women in technology who have co-funded a company, I can’t see past the sexists comments of Antonio García.
If I had a dollar for every time a men ask me, why feminism matter in technology? or how can they hire more women? We could complete a funding round for Cívica Digital. So, if you are wondering if Silicon Valley is sexist, please read this book and after, stop recommending it.
Nobody is absolutely sure that Silicon Valley really wants to be more diverse, but if it wants to, I can offer you a very small step, let’s make this commitment:
As an industry and ecosystem, repeat after me: “I will not endorse content that is sexist”
It would probably be very hard to get rid of all the sexist books in the industry. However, we can make an effort to curate our content, here is a blogpost that can help: “You Don’t Have to Hate Women to Be Sexist: Everyday Ways You May Be Sexist Without Knowing It”. Let’s construct an environment that will make us all proud, together.