“About once a month, on a Friday or Saturday night, the Silicon Valley Technorati gather for a drug-heavy, sex-heavy party.”
Over the past year, it’s been exposed and then further investigated that it’s not uncommon at all for the leaders in the tech community of Silicon Valley to get together often for secretive (or so they thought) drug-fueled, sex parties.
Since these parties made their splash across headlines since the news first broke in early 2018, Silicon Valley’s toxic culture and male-dominated workforce has been under serious scrutiny, by people inside and outside the community.
A female investor in the San Fransisco area told Emily Chang, author of Brotopia: Breaking Up The Boys’ Club In Silicon Valley, in her Vanity Fair article, “Women are participating in this culture to improve their lives. They are an underclass in Silicon Valley.” Other allegations in the book include that many business deals are made outside of the office, usually in a bar or a private hot tub.
In a Medium article, Paul Biggar, an attendee to one of the parties that Chang depicted in her book, wrote a response denying many of the allegations she made, but did confirm that some details were correct and that the culture of Silicon Valley must be fixed. “I came to Silicon Valley to make things. And while it’s true that wherever there is money and power there are going to be people who abuse it, we need to step up and stop this shit from going on. It is never OK to abuse your power to exploit women or any underrepresented group, or to allow your power to be used by others to do so.”
For more on the prevalence of sex parties in Silicon Valley, check out the podcast, Recode Decode, as host Kara Swisher interviews Chang on “the quasi-corporate sex parties of the Bay Area” here.
It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is the starting place for almost all things technological and innovative—but it’s also the birth place for technology’s diversity issues.
Centered around the San Francisco area, “Silicon Valley” as a region and term was coined by Don Hoefler in early 1971, although the phrase didn’t gain popularity in the 1980s. The direction the area has gone towards has come out of the fact that many STEM based operations originated there, including many universities research facilities, numerous venture capitals and U.S. Department of Defense investigations. It’s also where the technology industry’s diversity issue is the most problematic.
In a report from Reveal News released in June of 2018, 10 large tech companies based in Silicon Valley did not pay a single black woman in 2016, while six others did not have a single female executive in the organization.
This issue that has persisted since last century has finally been put in the spotlight, with more and more women (and men) showing their dissatisfaction with the culture that has persisted in a place that is supposed to be one of the most forward-thinking and visionary places on Earth, currently. Emily Chang, journalist and anchor/executive producer for Bloomberg Television, has even written a book detailing the harmful sub-culture that has grown within Silicon Valley. (Great read, 5/5 stars.)
A few major companies have made steps to change their corporate behaviors—or claimed they have—but some are saying it’s still not enough. It would be a shame to see a place that’s meant to inspire and create our future fall to ruins; but having an insufferable environment where that place is being cultivated is much worse. We’ll just have to keep an eye on what’s to come and keep pushing for more change.