Bummed in ‘Silicon Valley’: Why I can’t stand these new shows about startups

Last week I did something I rarely do. I posted an angry tweet:

I hesitated before I sent it. There’s more going on here than can be summed up in 140 characters. More than could possibly be fronted by my one, narrow reaction.

But the thing is, I’ve had it. The tech world is getting this big screen moment and in this one way, at least, it’s a total letdown.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend Hollywood is real life. It idealizes everything — hardly in the most noble directions — and that’s fine: Nobody wants every show to come with a token this and token that and political correctness oozing out every pore, like “Glee.” Ugh.

But the tech world wants to make its progressive culture more progressive. It knows it’s critical for women to become a truer part of an industry that shapes everything. So how media help or hurt feels not only important, but, to some of us, personal.

And what I end up afraid of is this: That far from solving this nasty gender divide in the most important field in the world, we’re not even able to picture what it looks like when men and women work together in technology.

Thomas Middleditch and Josh Brener in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” (Jaimie Trueblood/HBO)

Thomas Middleditch and Josh Brener in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” (Jaimie Trueblood/HBO)

This gets messy fast, so let me sweep away what this is not about: This is not about “Silicon Valley.” It sounds like it is, but really, it isn’t. The new HBO show just premiered, it’s getting strong reviews and though it’s tough for me to laugh out loud at cliches that are so two years ago if you live in the startup world, it’s entertaining enough and has every right to be and not to be whatever the hell it wants.

The problem is not with a show. It’s with the landscape.

Months ago I saw the first episode of “Betas,” one of Amazon’s first original series. Like “Silicon Valley,” it’s about a group of guys building a company. I wrote a post on Medium about why I wasn’t going to watch the second episode. It wasn’t because it was riddled with easy plot lines and bad writing (or at least, not just because of that), but because every woman got hit on, and the one woman poised to become part of the team was a conquest before she was a colleague.

Isn’t tech about disrupting things? ‘Cause that is so old.

I don’t kid myself that this is something that bugs all women in tech, though I think it should. And I definitely don’t expect it to bug men as easily as it might women. When you don’t see yourself in the depiction of a world you hope is yours, you feel it.

This is, I suppose, where I should list the recent offenses that illustrate what you already know: There’s a really low number of women in tech positions (a dismal 12 percent of software developers at tech startups, according to one rough estimate), and a male-centric tech culture is part of what keeps them out.

The New York Times summed it up nicely in a Sunday piece on the front of its business section a couple weeks back, “Technology’s Man Problem.”

betaslogo580

The TechCrunch Titstare debacle is in there, of course, as well as references to a “brogrammer” culture so pervasive it sits entrenched in “Silicon Valley” and “Betas” like it’s the whole point.

“I know H.T.M.L.” reads the T-shirt of one character in “Silicon Valley.” “How To Meet Ladies.”

The tech industry is hardly the only one where women don’t always fit in. A female friend who’s a stock analyst told her Facebook network recently how the foul-mouthed macho culture of “Wolf of Wall Street” is — still — not as far from reality as you might think.

You don’t see big stories about “Wall Street’s Man Problem,” and that’s part of my point: The tech industry really is progressive. It wants to change. It was clear in TechCrunch’s reaction to Titstare: When people in tech see a problem, they care. That’s why this is interesting. That’s why it’s worth talking about it at all.

Every entrepreneur knows women who call the shots, and everyone who’s ever succeeded at something hard knows that visualizing success is a big step to achieving it.

“Silicon Valley” can line up five guys in Steve Jobs turtlenecks. “Betas” can drop a woman in its poster like a prop, looking over the shoulder of a guy who’s actually at the table.

But I know we can demand more.

Mónica Guzmán is a freelance journalist, speaker and award-winning digital life columnist for GeekWire. You can find her tweeting away @moniguzman, subscribe to her public Facebook posts at facebook.com/moniguzman or reach her via email. See this archive of her weekly GeekWire columns.

  • Salty_Swede

    12% is on par with the % of women who get CS bachelor degrees, according to CRA.

    So while women get college degrees in greater #’s than men, they choose fields of study other than CS.

    • velogiraptor

      Kinda missed the point there. Changing things isn’t about how things are, but how they could or should be. To get there, it helps to have role models and characters that help people visualize themselves in a space.

      I’d expand a bit more, but I simply don’t have time. I do hope this helped a bit though.

      • Salty_Swede

        Not at all. Choice is a good thing.

        The point is that for a number of reasons, women do not pursue the proper training for the jobs in high tech (or mining for that matter). Why does this need to change if it is by choice? What does the author know that the rest of women do not?

        I know that ~75% of all workers in education and health services are women. Men simply do not choose to get education to prepare for and work in those fields as much as women. Does that mean they need more role models in those fields to “even” the numbers?

        • Beth Anderson

          Is it really a free choice? Why are women choosing not to pursue that training? I’m sure you have an answer. Please educate me.

          In my case, I easily could have chosen to go into computer science and pursued journalism instead because I’d been told my entire life that computers and math were hard and for boys, and that I was really, really good at writing. Why weren’t any of my math teachers female? Why wasn’t I praised for being a Mathlete but *was* totally praised for being editor in chief of my high school paper? I went to computer camp in the summer, but it was full of boys, and not very much fun. People go with where they’ll be appreciated, and I didn’t see anyone trying to encourage me into computer science. Why don’t I do it now? Because I have a family to support and a job that lets me combine my interest in writing with my interest in tech, but I’m not willing to upend my family’s well-being for the sake of pursuing a degree in a field I don’t really seem welcome in.

          • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

            +1 for sharing this perspective.

          • Susie Rantz

            I was in a really similar position as you, Beth. I was a mathlete and excelled in math and science in high school. Yet as I started to think about college and then career opportunities, I kept getting told “you are so great with people” (what does that even mean?); you should think about communications.

            You get told that enough and you start to think it’s your only option. I really enjoy the communications field and what it offers me. But I also wonder “what if” at times, and I continue to pursue hobbies outside of work that help me explore the side of me that loves numbers, puzzles, and programming.

          • Salty_Swede

            It’s typically a free choice. I know it used to be common for those paying for college to put some requirements on the type of degree (ie Mom and Dad saying get a degree that makes $), but with readily available funding from uncle sam, there are usually no such restrictions.

            Your guess is as good as mine as to why women do not choose CS and men do not choose education or health services. Maybe its because men “don’t really seem welcome” in education and health services. But it’s still a choice and choice is a good thing.

          • mlebauer

            Perhaps you should complain to your parents. Or your teachers. You can’t get along with boys and deal with male teachers?

            Most teachers are female, even many math teachers. Should boys feel unwelcome learning from them? That’s actually a growing complaint, that female teachers don’t understand growing boys’ nature, creating an environment where girls graduate in greater percentages, perform better, and enroll in higher ed at greater rates.

            Everyone has their complaints. If you have goals, you figure out how to overcome them. Or you can whine and blame others your choice.

          • heartbot

            I think there’s just a pervasive culture that tells girls they don’t belong in STEM. I was the top student at my high school in math and science, but was repeatedly told by men and women alike that math and science were not my strong suit. When I wanted to go to college for computer science, many people said, “Are you sure? That’s a lot of math and science.” Sure it was my main hobby in high school, but having people–adults whose opinions you trust and respect–question your aptitude and interest when you outperform every other student in your school in those subjects and when it’s what you spend hours doing for fun…it makes you question whether you’re actually good at it sand more importantly whether that’s a space you belong in. I ended up getting a degree in media studies, but after college, I ended up in IT and that’s where I am to this day. It’s what I love. But it still pisses me off that dozens of adults told me I wasn’t good at something and wouldn’t like when it was clearly something I excelled in and enjoyed. How many boys would be top in their math and science class and have anyone tell them they weren’t good at it?

          • AugustineThomas

            You think Woz was coddled and held by the hand?
            Geeks are some of the least respected and least motivated by society, yet they don’t need affirmative action. They went out and made their own livelihoods. They didn’t try to sue somebody, they built their own thing.

          • Mike

            You were stupid enough to believe what others told you? Not me, I built my own path. Dropped out of compsci and started a business that eventually made me millions. I guess everyone has an excuse for failure.

        • Dagny
    • Zachary Cohn

      Women used to make up a majority of Computer Science degrees. What happened?

      • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

        Great question.

      • Harry

        Women used to make up a majority of CS degrees? Not when I was in school. Maybe 5%

        • Salty_Swede

          Wikipedia shows a peak of 37.1% in 1984 for US CS degrees.

          But a whole lot has happened since 1984. IT went global long ago, so it makes me wonder if that had an impact

          • Harry

            Hmmm.. not at my school. I got my B.S. in Computer Engineering at UC San Diego in 1986 and there sure wasn’t that high of a percentage of women in my classes and based on my interviewing and hiring in the last 10 years, I don’t see any changes for developers.

          • Harry

            and an interesting side note – my roommate was friends with Mike Judge in college – they both played in the UCSD jazz band together.

          • AugustineThomas

            You guys were 100% dorks though, am I right? haha

      • heartbot

        I think it had to do early in with the fact that early programming (with punch cards) was seen as data entry–secretarial work essentially.

  • tech1

    I watch TV shows like Silicon Valley to get entertained — not taught how things should be

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Hey, so do I! But then I think about how what I see on screen compares to what I see in the world, and I see impacts and influences that are real, that exist, that demand to be talked about. Culture is not ALL about grab the popcorn, watch and move on. At least, life is a lot more interesting when some shows encourage you to take things further…

      • Annie Murphy

        While I agree the shows express intent is to entertain – I can tell you that there will be a large part of the viewing community that will believe that REALLY is how Silicon Valley is. So if there are 12% of us out there, I’d like to see at least 1 programmer on there. Mike Judge revealed that the bulk of his material was actually based on experiences from his ex-Wife. (As in a female sales engineer!!!) And while I wasn’t pissed about Silicon Valley to start as a show, after listening to the KQED Forum interview with Judge, I was upset learning that a few episodes later into the season that the only female appearing in a particular episode would be a STRIPPER!

  • wwbaker3

    “Silicon Valley” is a silly, screwball comedy – don’t take it so seriously. Women are minorities in the tech field and men are minorities in the stay-at-home-parenting field. Where’s the outrage for the lack of societal/familial support for men that CHOOSE to be stay-at-home-parents? I know it’s a separate issue but most men and women are still making choices in life that fit gender roles.

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Like I say in the piece: The problem I’m talking about isn’t with this show or any show. It’s with the landscape. Men and women work together in teams as equals out in the tech world. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, and on TV and in the movies we hardly ever, ever see it. I don’t want a lineup of shows so saccharine and idealized they make me gag. No one wants that. I want to see the tech world as I see it, the tech world where women are not always love interests/crushes/hot secretaries/stay-at-home support, but actually a PART OF THE TEAM. This is not fantasy. It it reality. It’s just not a reality that – for many interesting reasons – tends to make it to our screens.

      • wwbaker3

        The thing is, it IS a choice for women to be in the tech field if the pursue the proper degree and training. On the other hand, men that choose to be a SAH(Father) are forced to accept that as a temporary arrange – not a longterm life choice. Most examples of SAH(Parents) are mothers, and mothers are praised for raising children on their own while their husbands earn the money. Any examples of SAH(Fathers) are stereotypes of men being inept at parenting and childcare. Women laugh at it because they feel validated by their own abilities, while men laugh at it because the thought of being an effeminate men is hilarious, apparently. It’s a nasty situation that prevent men from being SAH(Fathers), and women from considering men that want to be SAHF.

        • Beth Anderson

          OK, that whole argument is totally off-track. We’re not talking about stay-at-home parents, although I agree with you that SAHD’s need support. But let’s stay on topic.

          • wwbaker3

            I knew someone would say this – thanks for confirming my suspicion. It’s not “totally off-track.” We’re talking about the lack of gender presence in a certain field, and this is a perfect illustration where men are equally qualified but are pressured out (internally or externally) for whatever reason.

          • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

            As long as you’re not attempting to invalidate the original critique by pointing to a critique on the other side (as if to say, the media aren’t great about portraying stay-at-home dads well either, so that cancels this whole women in tech thing out!) it’s a perfectly valid point and one of many directions this critique can launch us.

          • wwbaker3

            I see what you mean here. My point is that SAH(Fathers) and women in tech are both minorities, and the media isn’t doing something wrong is the AMOUNT they portray these minorities. That said, HOW they portray these minorities is the bigger, more critical issue. Both women in tech (often portrayed as “conquests” in a man’s field) and SAHF (often portrayed as dimwitted, inept, lacking ambition, man-boys,etc) are unfair and damaging to the equality movement.

          • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

            Totally agree. That doesn’t make you feel unwilling to engage on the women in tech issue, I hope? As @disqus_LHi4AnXA29:disqus points out, media portrayal issues abound. The fact that one may stand opposite another does not invalidate either.

          • wwbaker3

            I work alongside women on a daily basis in ad tech. 1/2 of my office is female. I just feel the supposed lack of acceptance of women in tech is slightly overblown compared to how men are viewed when they take on a full-time parenting role. SAH(Fathers) get a bad rep from women AND men, and there’s little to no support from SAH(Mothers). I was a SAHF for a year while my daughter was a infant/toddler. I have since been working in tech/ad tech the last 6 years.

          • Beth Anderson

            OK. I appreciate that, for sure. There are *lots* of things that are damaging to equality. But I do think it’s important to stick to women in tech, since that’s the point of the article. But I’d love to see Monica write about unfair portrayals of SAHDs, because I know a lot and love them, and appreciate that they’re having very similar difficulties.

          • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

            With you on this, Beth. I was a single dad for eight years, and even I think this is veering far OT.

          • AugustineThomas

            Why, if I CHOOSE TO, can’t I get pregnant?!?! I’m outraged! Where is Gloria Alred??!
            Existence is so sexist! (It should be called ‘sexistence’!)

        • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

          SO true. Those stereotypes about moms vs. dads also feel insanely old to me and, frankly, stupid. My husband and I are pretty much 50/50 parents. I’d be shocked if I’ve actually changed more diapers than he has. Things are changing, and outdated portrayals get stale. I will so rally around any show or story that speaks to our reality on parenting styles, just like I would one that speaks to our reality in how men and women work together in tech.

          • wwbaker3

            Thank you, Monica :) I know I changed more diapers over the years than my daughter’s mother. That said, we’re both working parents now, and share parenting/expenses/work 50/50.

      • http://lynnfredricks.com lynnfredricks

        Sounds like you are looking for a serious show, not a hah-hah nerds-are-funny-with-money show. Id like that too. But I will give some credit to Betas that I have met a lot of people like those characters (sadly).

      • Eduard Gotwig

        What you are talking about is not true for new startup companies with only programmers. I never saw much of such women programmers, maybe for 100 men, 4 women, to be even fair.

    • http://about.me/kimbannerman Kim Martin Bannerman

      Do you realize why that is? Because women still make far less than men. So when the time comes for “we don’t want to do daycare/daycare is expensive and/or we want more kids, but who will stay home and who will work and pay bills”-who do you think continues to work the majority of the time?

      • http://www.KristinBennett.com Kristin Bennett

        Excellent point…for years after I got laid off my husband was working instead of me because I wasn’t able to reach a job at the salary he was getting. Eventually I did take a lower paying job and he moved to contract/flexible work but this is a very real situation that I personally have experienced.

      • Jan D.

        If you honestly believe in the wage gap you’re a fucking moron. I’m a woman who makes just as much if not more than my male colleagues in a field that has been traditionally male dominated (law).
        I’ll link you to a few articles in case you’re just ignorant on the issue vs. being a completely brainwashed moron who just has a victim complex.
        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-gender-pay-gap-is-a-complete-myth/
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/
        And finally from the DEPARTMENT OF LABOR of one of the most feminist controlled presidents ever, THE WAGE GAP IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT.

        http://social.dol.gov/blog/myth-busting-the-pay-gap/It is basically entirely dependent on the fact that women naturally prefer different fields than men. Of the top paying fields overall (which contrary to the belief that they would be business etc. are actually often fields like oil mechanics and other less glamorous fields) men tend to flock to them. Naturally, men care more about money and climbing the corporate ladder.

        Interestingly, the vast majority of the so called “wage gap” doesn’t even come from different fields men and women choose, but the hours worked. If you take only hours worked (remember, that’s even if the woman is a law clerk and the guy is a partner), women earn about 90 cents on the dollar that a man does. Once you take into account fields chosen, or even specific jobs, it basically doesn’t exist (or, as we know in major cities, women make more).

        I have been a woman in the corporate world for a damn long time, and I am sick and tired of young women complaining about the fact that they’re actually going to have to work hard instead of blackmailing their companies with sex discrimination lawsuits when they don’t make as much as somebody who’s been with the firm for years and bills way more than they do.
        Christ people like you make me disgusted the way you twist everything into how you are “victims”, and you wonder why people don’t want you in their company. It’s not because you’re “oppressed” when women spend the majority of money in the U.S., control most of the wealth, make up the majority on almost every college campus in the country, are less likely to be victims of violent crime (including rape, which of course, according to people like you is something that all men do and every woman is a victim of).

        • Not You

          Did she specifically say “wage gap”? No. Wow, your rant is inflammatory , inappropriate & looks like you have far too much time on your hands. What’s your title at this job you make so much money at? Internet Troll? Who pissed in your corn flakes this lovely day?

          Have some decency and decorum, instead of hiding behind a fake user name and bashing someone you do not know who is fully divulging themselves (& doing so, from what I’ve seen, in a thoughtful way).

          Remember, what you spit/spew out is what you become. Try being a positive influence in someone’s life, instead of bashing strangers in Internet comments. You’ll be a happier person. I promise.

        • http://about.me/kimbannerman Kim Martin Bannerman

          That’s not what I was saying AT ALL. I’m not sure what I did to make you so angry and rant on like this? I was speaking from personal experience of myself and my core group of friends (who live throughout the country). And for the record, I’m not a “young woman” just getting into the professional world. We all have lived different experiences, and I hope that’s what can continue to bring all of us professional women together. Have a good evening.

    • Eduard Gotwig

      I dont even think of it as a comedy, but more of it as real-life momentums.
      It looks pretty realistic, and its only fair to include no woman in the mainset of the show. It represents the true IT side how it is right now.
      This post on geekwire is just an outcry of a woman..

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

    Good piece, Monica. I agree. The reality is that television shows, especially comedies, often lead mass acceptance and understanding of changes in social, gender and work roles. Think All in the Family. Will and Grace. Murphy Brown. The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’m sure there are others. And it’s a benefit to the comedy, too, in that it can provide wonderful plot devices to subtly (or, sometimes, not so subtly) skewer assumptions and pre-conceived notions. To me, not including women in key roles in a current show about tech startups is more 1914 than 2014.

    • Annie Murphy

      +1 Love this comment.

    • Anthony Claiborne

      Totally agree. Need strong female characters in tech portrayals to move things forward. How about an iconoclast like Lady Ada (Limor Fried)? Or, maybe just a more conventional woman who
      happens to like coding?

    • Jan D.

      Oh because we know men are portrayed so well in TV right? Literally every single TV show featuring men in families shows the man as a stupid loser slob who’s “lucky” to get his wife, who of course is a charming, intelligent woman who puts up with all of his bullshit. Seriously, piss off.

      • Troll Proofing

        Didn’t actually read the comment to which you’re responding, did you? Since it had nothing to do with men in comedies at all, but those significant shows that used comedy to comment, and spur, on social change.

  • Orin

    It’s not TV’s job to change the world. The reality is, “tech” is overwhelmingly male, and probably the most misogynistic field of endeavor outside of the military. Like it or not, that’s the reality. I personally don’t see why anyone, male or female, would get into it in the first place… you get to work ridiculous hours, sometimes for low (or even no) pay, only to have your job outsourced to someone in India who’s getting paid $15/hour or less. Who in their right mind would want to do that?

    • Beth Anderson

      I don’t believe tech is that misogynistic. I think most of the guys I know in tech appreciate women, but don’t understand the difficulties we face in the field. And why not go into tech? It’s exciting. People like to build things. Sure, your job could be outsourced, so could anyone’s in nearly every field. But there are about a million good reasons to get into tech.

      • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

        Hear, hear. Well said.

  • Greg Bulmash

    And why did Sam have to pursue Dianne and then Rebecca on “Cheers”? And what about the lack of African Americans on “Friends”? It’s like the whole sitcom genre fails to accurately mirror reality and simply portrays adult relationships as a bunch of melodrama and punchlines.

    It like sitcoms just play to specific demographics in a crass attempt to turn art into commerce and keep the members of those demographics coming back for more.

    Absolutely shocking that Hollywood would be more concerned with money than realistic and nuanced reflections of the world we live in, because we all know that TV writers, if they’re known for anything, it’s holding themselves to the highest of intellectual standards.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      Definitely depends on the producer’s or writer’s perspective and objective. I suspect whoever created Silicon Valley is no Norman Lear.

    • wwbaker3

      Actually in reality people tend to associate with people that are like-minded and resemble them. A sitcom that resembles a multiracial Gap/Old Navy ad is pretty rare in reality and pretty unrealistic.

      • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

        Agreed. No one wants that. Too often that’s what people assume this argument calls for. Not the case. I’d never watch a show like that in a million years. But seeing the same mix, the same old portrayals when I know and we know that something much more interesting is out there is frustrating. This is not about fixing “Silicon Valley” or “Betas.” It’s about demanding more stories, stories that give us different, TRUE angles, not some silly artificial blend that doesn’t actually exist.

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Sigh. This is not about demanding that Hollywood be either a saintly dreamscape stuffed with visions of our better selves or an intellectual tower where only shows that anticipate every social barb get accepted. It’s about our ability to visualize this raw, growing, important and powerful part of our world. It’s not a problem with a show, but with the landscape. Why are depictions of men and women working together on teams so rare in our most popular stories? Why are women so often something else – love interests, etc. – before or while they’re colleagues? We are getting a narrow view, and that view affects how others see this tech world. The fix is not in hating on these shows for not pleasing everyone. They each have a right to their vision. The fix is to be aware of what’s out there and what’s not, and maybe inspire someone, someday, to show the pieces we’re not seeing that are real and awesome and show women as the partners they very very often are.

    • Beth Anderson

      You’re right – there’s a lot of other areas where the entertainment industry gets it wrong. But why not encourage them to get it right in an industry Seattle’s well-known for. The tech folks I know are a broad mix and many of them are women. There’s nothing wrong with demanding a higher standard for portrayals of an industry you care about!

  • Ryan
    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Agreed. Fantastic points he makes that can apply to any communities with ambitions outside of what’s expected. Thanks for sharing.

  • Aaron Bird

    @disqus_RuTfmiUXQR:disqus @wwbaker3:disqus (and others), This post is about CHANGING things to make the world better. It’s not about RATIONALIZING why we the world isn’t better.

    In the mid 20th century most women didn’t pursue careers. Was it possible for them to make a different decision? Yes. Did they? Not most of the time. That was “their choice”, right? Why change it? Is the world better with women in the workforce? Yes. Did we have to overcome stereotypes and the status quo to get there? Yes.

    If you honestly think the world is best served by 12% of developers being women, then you have a logically sound argument based on incorrect assumptions. If you don’t think the world is better that way, then you missed the point of this post and are arguing a moot point.

    • wwbaker3

      That’s fine, but let’s look at the reality. Do you have a female CTO or female developers? I’m curious. Why not?

      • Aaron Bird

        FYI: I’m not going to follow this conversation much farther down your troll hole.

        I don’t have a female CTO, but again, you’re arguing a point that no one is arguing against. It’s not about how things are, but how they should be, and how we change them to get there.

        I will tell you that I’ve given employment offers to 100% of the female developers I’ve interviewed (literally). I’ve probably done that for less than 10% of the male developers I’ve interviewed. I’m not sure what that means, but yes I’ve hired female developers and I want to do it more (hence why I agree with Monica and think we should help change the world to get there).

        • Harry

          How many female vs male developers have you interviewed? I haven’t see a whole lot of female developer resumes in my experience.

      • Annie Murphy

        There are female CTO’s out there if that’s your argument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padmasree_Warrior

    • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

      Ah, an eloquent call for focus! I see SO MANY THREADS on this topic derailed by precisely what you call out here – tangents that distract from productive discussion on the problem raised. Thank you.

      Others have linked to this clip, but I’ll do it again, because it’s pretty amazing: http://www.upworthy.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-reveals-that-hes-been-black-his-whole-life-hilarity-and-wisdom-follow?g=3&c=hpstream.

      This is about the landscape around us and how it shapes what we feel is possible and what we don’t. WHAT’S POSSIBLE IS NOT A BINARY – either you can or you can’t – but exists on a gradient. The landscape whispers to little girls with voices they can’t address that going into tech is less possible than going into writing, that starting a company is less possible than starting a family, that leading people is less possible than nurturing them. That some women make it through this and STILL become Marissa Meyer and Sheryl Sandberg DOES NOT NEGATE THE PROBLEM. It’s not a binary, it’s a gradient. Want more women in tech? Change the landscape. That IS possible. One of many, many levers to pull is the stories we choose to tell, the stories that make it to our screens.

      • John Jacob

        Monica, if this is really eating at you so much you should think about writing your own screenplay rather than asking for a show that is now going to happen on T.V. or any movie for that matter. And you didn’t bring up Office Space, how dare you this is a cult classic, not about “Silicon Valley” but please people want to watch something that is funny not what your so called “reality” is comprised of, although it sounds pretty boring…

        • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

          “If you can’t solve a problem, don’t talk about it!” Classic.

      • Harry

        Men and women are different and the majority of women don’t want to sit in front of their computer screen all day and night programming. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and doesn’t make one sex better than the other. There are great women programmers and lousy men programmers, but the facts are that the majority of women don’t like that kind of work. Why can’t we just let it be and not feel like we need to force women to be programmers so we can have an even distribution? No one that I know of is campaigning for more male nurses because it doesn’t matter.

        • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

          “The majority of women don’t want to sit in front of their computer screen all day and night programming.” No. There are fewer female coders, of course, but in no way does that point to an inherent lack of interest being wholly behind the disparity. That would be almost like saying that lower income students don’t want to go to college because many of them don’t — after a lifetime of being told they shouldn’t, or can’t. “The facts are that the majority of women don’t like that kind of work.” Those are not the facts at all. That many adult women are not interested in going into coding in no way points to some gender predisposition against it. The idea that it does is a huge part of the problem, because it makes people think no problem exists. Once women stop receiving messages that this work is “not for them,” once we have generations growing up with these careers seeming equally possible and doable, only then will we be able to brush aside concerns of access to talk purely about choice. As to why people campaign for more females in tech: Tech is not just tech. It is everything. It is our entire world. It is BUILDING our entire world. If groups of people are being discouraged from playing a role in the most influential industry in the world, that industry loses an opportunity at more powerful honesty and complexity, and the people it serves lose too.

          • jamesian

            Encouragement can come in this video from high-school student Riyanka Ganguly, who says encouragement is key in science and tech. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCV6D440cds&feature=youtu.be

          • Harry

            I’m sorry, but biology states otherwise: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-male-female-brains-differ I think anyone who has had boy and girl children knows this already. BTW, I 100% agree that women shouldn’t be discouraged against computer fields or treated poorly by male engineers, but they also shouldn’t be forced to pursue something they’re not interested in just to make things “equal”.

          • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

            This is both a misguided and very sad assertion you’re making — and no, a link to a Web MD article about how male and female brains differ does not back you up — and just about the worst reason to wash your hands of a serious problem and walk away. I’m not coming with you. No one should.

          • Harry

            Monica, I think if you read the article with an open mind it does back me up regarding why women are generally less interested in programming than men. I think it’s misguided of you to dismiss that article or other studies like it because you don’t “feel” it’s correct. Again, I agree with you that women should not be discouraged from pursuing careers in tech.

        • Glenn Fleishman

          Harry, there’s no basis to make this statement. It hasn’t been proven in biology or society. Most of the early computers (the people) who performed the hard work for math and encryption were women. 40% of computer-science degrees were awarded in America in the mid-1980s to women. Even as women increased in college enrollment (nearly 60% of undergraduates are women), the absolute number and relative percentage of those in engineering and CS courses declined.

          You may have a personal belief that the brains of men and women are dissimilar enough that most of one gender have a preponderance for one thing and one for another. There is no science that bears this out.

          Observation doesn’t other, nor history. If you simply want to ignore the impediments placed in the face of girls and women who intend to go into CS, IT, and engineering fields, which are in fact both anecdotally and statistically well documented.

          “No one that I know of is campaigning for more male nurses because it doesn’t matter.”

          You might do some research before you post. Men are entering nursing in huge numbers, displacing women from the field, and commanding higher salaries and rising faster because that’s how our society works.

          • Harry
          • Glenn Fleishman

            WebMD piece is an article summarizing some research, not definitive information nor peer-reviewed results. It also doesn’t indicate nor test whether the information presented has a direct effect on individuals as to their abilities and proclivities. If there is research at some point that tracks specific men and women’s brains and how they perform at given professional tasks, then there would be more credence needing to be paid.

            People are, in fact, campaigning for more men to become nurses.

            The percentage of nurses in America that are male has increased substantially in a short period of time, and the bias towards salary and positions has already reared its head.

            “we need to force women to be programmers so we can have an even distribution” Fundamentally, this isn’t what any sensible person is arguing, but I can’t speak to your interpretation or people you’re reading who are insensible.

            There is well-documented discrimination against girls and women studying technical fields, and entering those fields. You don’t address the huge shift (nearly 40% of women getting CS degrees in the 1980s to fewer than 20% today), which would indicate that substantially more women were interested in and capable of obtaining such degrees when the profession was less lucrative in the past. Brains haven’t changed very much in 30 years.

            It’s not about an even distribution. It’s about the loss to individuals and to society through discrimination. People not being allowed to reach their potential is a loss.

            The basic fairness issue also comes down to wages. Women are routinely discouraged, barred, or and discriminated against entering professions that are lucrative. This provides a persistence economic disadvantage.

          • Harry

            There are more studies on the differences in brains other than the webmd.com article.

            I don’t know why the shift has occurred. As a Computer Engineering major in the mid 80′s at UC San Diego, I can tell you that there’s no way we had 37% women in the major. In the 80′s, Computer Science in general was fairly new and getting more popular, so I can see why both men and women would want to try it out, which might explain the initial interest by women.

            This article has some good charts on the subject: http://blogs.computerworld.com/it-careers/21993/women-computer-science-visual-trendline

            and a reasonable conclusion:

            “If social pressures and cultural attitudes were to blame, one would think the numbers would have been consistently low. On the other hand, if social attitudes had changed for the better over the last four decades, one would expect to see a gradual improvement over time.”

    • Salty_Swede

      If this is about “Changing things to make the word better” why not focus on other areas where the male and female “numbers” are not even?

      What is so special about the highly risky and competitive world of silicon valley start ups?

      • http://moniguzman.com Monica Guzman

        “Other problems exist, so don’t talk about this one!” Sorry, no.

        • Salty_Swede

          Never said not to talk about it. In fact I have done nothing but add context to the discussion and ask questions.

          Some of the answers to those questions have led me to wonder if our education system (also out of “balance”) is causing women to not choose computer science as a major. I assume far more women get an education than watch HBO sitcoms about high tech start ups in silicon valley.

    • mlebauer

      The world is served if the stuff tech companies make is bought valued and enjoyed. Do you think when I go to the hospital I care that 80% of the people there are women? No, I care that I get good care. When you buy a foreign product, do you care that it’s made by foreigners who don’t look like America? Then why does it matter for an American company?

      I was taught in business school that it’s good business to employ a workforce that looks like the company’s customer base. I asked to see studies and was met by blank stares.

  • http://about.me/kimbannerman Kim Martin Bannerman

    I’ve been in tech for 9 years. “Silicon Valley” paints that world like a cartoon. While I “get” that we shouldn’t take Hollywood’s portrail of anything too seriously, Monica is right. There are many larger issues in tech for women than just this show. Monica used the show as an example of how she’s been frustrated for a long time. All of you who think she’s complaining about a TV show, please see the overall bigger picture here.

    While you said that bad things haven’t happened to you personally @disqus_LHi4AnXA29:disqus you know (as a writer, I’m sure you’ve read the recent articles) Women are still threatened with violence, sexually and other types, by men at tech conferences, online, and in the work place. A female developer who runs the Node.js group in Portland. GitHub and Julie Ann Horvath. Adria Richards and PyCon. Those are 3 just off the top of my head. All of those women? Female hand’s on Developers.

    Here’s one example from this week, the WSJ’s Global Tech Conference Event coming up in Laguna Beach later this year: http://www.refinery29.com/2014/04/66469/wall-street-journal-tech-conference?fb_action_ids=10152761407843626&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=ARTICLE&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

    I enjoy working in tech, and that’s why I’ve stayed in it (and will continue). Have I heard and experienced numerous inappropriate gender-biased things in my career? Absolutely.

    Many women who have CS degrees and have worked in tech are getting out of it for one reason or another. Many are driven out, self admittedly. There are groups of women in every city here in the US who have dug their feet in, and are staying. Call me an idealist, but I truly believe the only way to make the industry better for women is to stay in it -and see that it is :)

    • balls187

      If you want to make the point that there are issues in Tech for women (actually Monica is making both sides of that argument), don’t use a “cartoon” to illustrate your point.

      > Women are still threatened with violence, sexually and other types, by
      men at tech conferences, online, and in the work place. … GitHub and Julie Ann
      Horvath.

      Was Julie Ann Horvath threatened with violence?

      • Not You

        And you’re making a point, with a “screen name”
        like that?

        • balls187

          logic fail

  • balls187

    > But I know we can demand more.

    Why? It’s make believe comedy for entertainment.

    How are you going to write a serious female character for a show like Silicon Valley?

    What characteristics can she possibly have, that won’t come across as extremely sexist and offensive?

    As this is a comedy the characters are single dimensional parodies taken to an extreme for comedic effect.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible to have a female character in this role, but I suspect it will portray women in tech in a negative light, given that this show already portrays many stereotypes somewhat negatively.

  • balls187

    A *HUGE* problem with women in tech is due to news outfits like Geekwire, and their ilk that always promote these low rent women who are playing at tech.

    How many times have you written about Sandi, the CEO SkillJar. She has degrees from MIT and Stanford, and has a history of excellence. Written maybe once, because of techstars?

    I worked with 5 women engineering PhD’s at a startup here in Seattle, all of which are foremost authorities in their field, and you’ve never written about them.

    Why, because they don’t have publicists, or hire fancy photographers to take glamor shots, or blog SEO/SEM posts, or attend social events, or waste time on their “brand?”

    I interviewed a female engineering candidate, who wrote a Bullet Hell game.

    IN MATLAB.

    Then wrote a solver/simulator for it.

    IN MATLAB.

    Folks, that’s GGWP.

    But she ain’t on twitter, or sporting Gucci glasses, so ya’ll ain’t gonna cover her.

    There are HELLA bad ass women in Tech here in Seattle, and no one talks about them, because you’d rather cover all these wanna-bes who think they’re tech, but ain’t shippin.

    Walk over the any of the PhD engineering programs at UW and prepared to be in AWE.

    It ain’t easy for a woman to be in Tech, no doubt, but stop covering these bit players and start showing the real women in tech, who will actually inspire tomorrows female engineers.

    /realtalk

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment.

      I am not sure blaming GeekWire or any other media outlet is the correct path here. On the startup beat, we’re focused on covering the next-generation of companies, those which are going to grow into very large enterprises.

      Frankly, we don’t care whether those companies are created by women or men. We just want to see these types of companies incubated and started here, disrupting old industries and creating amazing and innovative things. That’s what gets us fired up.

      If a woman or group of women is behind the effort, that’s fantastic.

      I am sorry that you feel that some of the women we’ve covered in the past are not worthy of stories. We obviously disagreed with that assessment, and we’ve been impressed with many of the women we’ve spoken to recently. (On the GeekWire podcast in the past few weeks, we’ve had great conversations with Kristen Hamilton of Koru; Margaret O-Mara of the UW; and Danielle Hulton of Ada’s Technical Books).

      http://www.geekwire.com/podcast/

      Also, if you feel there are stories we are missing of entrepreneurs — either men or women — please email me directly: john@geekwire.com.

      We are always looking for innovative and creative folks to feature, whether in our Startup Spotlight; Geek of the Week; Podcast, etc. Please do let us know.

      We also are very much news driven, so the more news a company creates — raising money, hiring dozens of employees, suing a rival, going public, acquiring a competitor, etc. — the more coverage they get.

      As to Sandi Lin at SkillJar, formerly EverPath, we’ve written two stories about the company in the past 14 months. I don’t think that’s a bad ratio, really.

      That said, if they have more news to share, we’ll be here to cover it.

      Thanks for reading.

  • Been There Done That

    This post reminds us of why there are few females in the positions Monica hopes they would be. But writing about it isn’t the answer — doing it is. If women decided to pursue this career, it wouldn’t be an issue. Women greatly outnumber men in college. They have the numbers to choose to be a force — they don’t choose to do so. Let’s honor everyone, regardless of gender, those who follow their dreams and, hopefully, succeed. To criticize that which is produced to be watched isn’t addressing the issue at all. In fact, it comes across as nothing more than sour grapes.

    • Moon Kitty

      Well also in the show they clearly bragged about “dropping out of college,” so that explains why there are more women than men at college ha ha.

  • desertzinnia

    Frankly, as a woman who used to work as a programmer outside Silicon Valley, I would rather the show portray the extremely sexist reality of IT. Not that it would shame male techies into behaving like civilized human beings, but at least the rest of the world would know what women in IT are up against.

    I was usually the only woman on my team, or at a site, other than the secretary or maybe a tech writer. As an intern, my male co-workers stood outside my cubicle and talked smack about their wives and women in general. Some of the stuff, like stonewalling by my co-workers or management, wasn’t specifically sexist, but was definitely more a part of my workday than my male co-workers’. I never could get past the beginning of “Office Space” because it was too much like my real workday.

    Maybe there are people in IT who WANT to eradicate the sexism, but the reality is that the number of women in IT has halved since the 1980s.

  • paul blake

    Hey, wasn’t mochacinno the stripper not serious enough of a woman for you? I hear she’s coming back for another episode.

  • Ryuzaki Taichou
  • Jimbo

    This show was produced in order to make money. It’s not about righting social wrongs or inspiring people. It’s an escapist show for young males. No one wants to watch a show that shows the real silicon valley. No one wants to a show depicting the reality of mob life. You think real life wiseguys are good looking and charming like Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini? They’re very rough, very trashy and frightening people. I’m in IT. I’ve been around plenty of SV types. I wouldn’t watch a five minute documentary on them. No one owes you a show with a female lead. If that is what you want then go to Hollywood, write a script and start networking and pitching ideas. Believe me, you’ll learn a lot about what really drives this society.

  • Mike

    I am personally sick of seeing all of these stupid articles that try to grasp for a reason not to like this show. It is pretty funny and entertaining as most Mike Judge productions are. If you don’t enjoy it then don’t watch it.

  • Bing

    The characters on the show are caricatures. I understand your point Monica and have worked with some excellent women developers in my career. But I am curious how you include women as caricatures without being offensive.

  • Moon Kitty

    I’m a woman and think a woman geek on the show would be too obvious as the token woman geek-

    Sorry.

    • Goose

      It would suck because it would be obvious, unreal, and a distraction.

  • Goose

    Uh……there weren’t a lot of chicks in Beavis and Butt-Head either, dude.

    It’s Mike Judge.

  • Jason Truesdell

    The comments here remind me of an old observation: Women dominated the computer professions until it proved to be a path to obtain money and power.

  • Edithfr

    Thank YOU!!! This was exactly my reaction when I got off the bus and saw the poster for the first time. Sure women in technology are a small statistic. But since Hollywood isn’t real, how about fake boosting that statistic by putting a powerful woman as part of the leadership team? There would be so many great stories that could be built. It would be so easy! I”m not watching the show. I live this every day. I don’t need HBO to tell me how to think. But, I’m disappointed that HBO or the production company didn’t take a great opportunity.

  • Brady Richard

    Hey @moniguzman:disqus ! I have a wonderful idea for you!!! You should make a show, about this exact subject. It could be a show about women in the tech world! The female lead, can be a lady, who is much like yourself, covering these topics via a site like @Geekwire . I think you should take the lead from @LenaDunham . She might actually jump on board with it. To make it even better, you should release it on YouTube and skip the HBO route. I think that the “Tech” world, women, and fans of comedy need another show like Silicon Valley anyway! I would be the first to watch it on a weekly basis!!! I say run with it!!!

  • mochachino

    Jeez- its just a dumb tv show -for fun you know.
    Shoot at the problem lady -not the messenger. next you be saying not enough female marines becoz of all the male dominated gladiator movies.

    • luvmocha

      or ‘Hangover’ ruins Vegas’s image as a family destination

  • The Women Are Smarter

    But, the show makes fun of the valley, and the main characters it pokes fun at are all men. The one recurring figure who is reasonable and seemingly normal is the woman who is the associate of the venture capitalist who invests in the company at the center of it. I’m all for a little more balance in the portrayal of tech, and more importantly those in it – but let’s look at the bigger picture here. The show mocks the startup world and those (mostly men) who are in it.

  • glyssix

    I’m totally with you. As a woman in tech, I can’t stand watching these shows which use women as props. Up until recent seasons, it has been an issue that I had with Big Bang Theory, and it is why I don’t want to watch Silicon Valley. First of all, there are more women in overall tech than people think (maybe not pure programming, but overall startups) and second of all, even if they are rare, there are still many competent women in tech. Even Dilbert had Alice.

    I worked in a startup in Silicon Valley. There were many competent women in our company and not all of them were assistants. In refusing to put women in the show in any way but as a reflection of the male characters, the showrunners definitely run the risk of turning off half the population.

    A show called “Girls” (a show which I actually don’t enjoy, despite being female) puts it out there in the name–and actually puts a lot of emphasis on the male characters. It’s strange that Silicon Valley wouldn’t do the opposite. Not every show is for every one, I understand, but it is galling that all the tech shows seem to lean this way.

  • James

    Hi Monica, thanks for writing this and it’s nice we can agree Glee is awful. I also agree it’s critical for women to become a truer part of the industry.

    I like your viewpoint however the reasoning behind the lack of women in these shows is simply the target audience. We all know what’s up, not that many women are going to watch these shows. Can you imagine guys watching Gilmore Girls? The only guys watching are because their girlfriends are behind it, same with boyfriends watching Silicon or Betas with their girlfriends tagging along for the ride.

    Amanda Crew who plays Monica in the show holds an authoritative position as the CEO’s assistant. They easily could have cast a clumsy pushover guy but she holds her own and definitely gets respect from the Pied Piper members.

    You’re right about the role of women in the show Betas being a conquest, but again… nerdy dudes watching the show, it’s relatable/a fantasy to them.

    Also, it’s not the producers job to change how progressive a show is, at the end of the day it’s just fiction.

    Take another HBO show Girls. Clearly aimed a female audience but as a 20 something guy I like the comedy in it, it’s a fun and women watching would agree, just like men who are watching Silicon Valley, it’s a show for a male audience after all.

    Now, one final thought about women in computer science in general. The CS field isn’t very social as far as the work environment, I feel like women (generally speaking) are more social than men. I also think a lot of the nerd lifestyle is men who are social outcasts that aren’t the best looking guys and don’t have personalities to be desirable to women. So these guys becoming techs are already hardwired to live a less social lifestyle, add in a high school experience with no dates and you’re setting up these guys to become loners on their computer. It actually makes a lot of sense. Personally, I wouldn’t want to work in the field because I feel like it’s a waste of a life to sit behind a computer all the time when you could be out and about. But I do love the shows lol they’re silly and entertaining.

    Thanks for sharing Monica, I hope my thoughts give some perspective and would actually love to hear what you think. It’d be great to open this conversation more, and you’ve done a great job by starting it :)

    James

  • p jiffy

    Women aren’t as funny!

  • Zachary Marks

    I don’t want to start seeming like i’m anti-women in tech, cause i’m not so please don’t respond trying to act like i’m antagonizing you or whatever….but here is my view, and i’m only using logic…

    12% of women elect to get a degree and join the IT industry (so says comments + your article), therefore you could conclude that the vast majority of the IT interested people who would watch this show are men, and the vast majority of experiences of the people who would watch this show therefore would be with other mean in the workplace described in the show…its a comedy on a premium cable channel, meant to be funny and ironic and at times deprecating…and thats not just to the women on the screen…If you had watched more then one episode (i’m still unclear on whether you actually had or not…) you would see that the main character, along with EVERYONE else is the subject of a joke or crude comment throughout…they aren’t just putting women in that position…Elrich (sp?) is often made fun of for being “who he is” in the culture of IT startups…along with everyone else for their individual idiosyncrasies…while women do have a small footprint in this industry, and are often neglected for promotions or lead roles in projects, or made out to be vindictive or whatever the case may be, there are plenty of men out there being passed up for the same positions as well, If you look at the executive corporate whatever you call it world, women make up for around 20%…(taken from me watching dragons den (canadian) show where Arlene Dickenson says EXACTLY that)

    Isolating the way women as being “kept out” of the tech field because men are wearing shirts that say “How to meet ladies” is kind of ignorant, there are plenty of women at the local sports bars and I see alot more crude and offensive t-shirts there…

    In my opinion, the reason there are only 12 percent of women working in the IT field, is the same as why there are so few (i dont know the percent…) straight men working in the fashion industry…it has to do with where their gender finds interesting…It would be nice to think that writing a simple article criticizing a HBO comedy would fix or inspire women to join, but if women just generally aren’t interested enough in IT to get involved in high numbers, then they just aren’t…but you can easily find tons of women in high ranking positions at blue chip (IT and everything else) companies, even those led by men…

    The show is a comedy, its not a documentary, while some things are true in it, most are exaggerated for comedic and dramatic effect… the fact that your portraying it as accurate and getting atop a soap box for women everywhere based on what you saw on HBO from the brain of Mike Judge makes me wonder how involved you have been in the real IT industry, or have you just sat on the side lines and wrote blog entries about TV? I hate to be that way about it, but in order to get my point across, you really need to think about this, cause your acting like people are taking this show seriously and modeling behavior off of it in the industry…its a freakin’ comedy. on freakin’ HBO. by freakin’ Mike Judge.

    Stereotypes, generalizations, and irony is what makes it “funny”, the fact that theirs a Paki’, an illegal Canadian immigrant, a oddball assistant, and a nervous quirky lead isn’t a problem, but a small role of a female and their t-shirts are such a big problem that you write a whole article about female rights and respect in the workplace? but completely neglect every other stereotype and generalization that could possibly offend or detour any other type of culture/group/nationality/whatever? Hmmm…I guess i figured it out….

    Equal rights for women! We will get the everyone else later!

    Sounds like you want a documentary. Switch to A&E.

  • Pelvis

    Stop crying and get back into the kitchen, the food is not gonna cook itself.

  • RTK1316

    Oh Good Grief. Can’t we just sit back and enjoy a pretty funny sitcom without (1) counting how many females, gays, minorities are included; (2) whether their inclusion is demeaning or not; (3) whether anything, ANYTHING about the show MIGHT be considered offensive to someone, ANYONE? Enough already!

  • Eduard Gotwig

    I didnt even thought about this, until you brought it up. Great. you ruined my movie expierience with this series….

  • mlebauer

    If you wish more women were in CS and STEM fields, why did you go into journalism? To write about the problem?

  • kromanized

    Ah, the classic “Why aren’t their smart and powerful women in this and this?” As I said on another similarly dull and repetitive article, not every TV show needs a female lead, just how not every show must have a male one. It seems no one can create anything without upsetting everyone because they didn’t include what so and so wanted.

  • Dan

    Are you a software developer Monica? For better or worse, I have found this show bang on so far purely because of how accurately it represents the culture, the awkward geek attitude towards women, etc. This is exactly how we talk in my computer science course (slightly differently when one of the 3 females out of 165 males are present). I’m not sure why making fun of the culture needs to create a feminist issue.

  • AugustineThomas

    As soon as there’s one serious woman at a tech startup, we can make shows about them! :)

  • Gentleman Ghost

    To address your tweet, I think you were in trouble as soon as you hit the word “serious”. And that’s what she would have to be, serious.

    Female characters in comedies are seldom allowed to flawed and funny, they have to be a one woman female empowerment parable, flawless, artificially sassy and always granted the last word, or there will be a torrent of lazy clickbait feminists crying “misogyny” and “boycott”.

    All of the humour in the show (most notably their awkwardness around women) is at the characters’ expense to a degree that in our current climate of gender relations, would not be possible with female characters, particularly in a show written by a man.

    I think that is the crucial flaw of your article, the comedy aspect of this comedy show is so far below your personal politics that I think you’re having trouble discussing the show on its own terms.

    What sort of female character would you like to see besides a competent programmer? How would she be funny? What’s her story? I’m not being rhetorical here, this is a big problem for women in comedy and I would genuinely like to know how you would solve it.