Yesterday tech editor at the New York Times, Pui-Wing Tam, interviewed Bloomberg tech journalist Emily Chang about her experience of covering Silicon Valley. It’s of no surprise that Emily is publicising gender imbalance in her soon to launch book Brotopia – this is something that has been written about extensively, especially because of ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s Medium post and the #MeToo movement – but what I did find surprising is why she believes her three young sons would benefit from a more balanced tech community.
Pui-Wing Tam asks: You have three young sons, who you dedicate the book to. What are the implications for them?
Emily Chang response: When things got hard — because it’s not easy to report on sexism — I’d look at the boys and think “I’m doing this for them.” I really do think their lives will be better in a more equal world.
More importantly, Silicon Valley is controlling what we see, what we read, how we shop, how we communicate, how we relate to each other. This is not just tech’s problem. This is society’s problem. This is the industry that is having a greater influence on humanity than perhaps any other. And the same industry that changed the world can change this behavior.
As a mother to a two-year-old son, I struggle with how he already views women in society. The other day when we were looking through a magazine together, there was an image of a Porsche. He pointed to it and said: “That’s a man’s car!”. I asked him if a woman could drive it too, and he said, “No, only a man!” And although he didn’t mean to be sexist, he already thinks that that men and women can attain different things.
So what am I going to do about this?
I’ve put him into nursery another day. I’m hoping that will allow me to have more headspace and be able to work. I’m realising that he’s only seen me as the homemaker, while his father goes off to work every day. And while I love spending time with him, he probably doesn’t understand that I need to go to work too.
I’m also going to try my best to encourage him to realise that men and women can do the same thing – not thinking his comments are a ‘boys will be boys’ talk – and most of all challenge him, ask him why he only thinks a man can have or do something.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll tell him … again … again … and again …until it sticks.by