When I saw the trailer for Mike Judge's new Silicon Valley sitcom, aptly named "Silicon Valley," I first thought, "Oh hey, it's T.J. Miller, Zach Woods and Martin Starr. Those are funny guys who consistently make me laugh!" And then I went and rained on my own giggle parade by following that joyous thought up with, "Oh hey, it's another TV show/movie about the tech industry exclusively featuring dudes. Great."
To be fair, there was one woman in the "Silicon Valley" trailer. She plays a stripper.
And I get it: the tech industry (and the film industry) is persistently male-lopsided to the extent that the term "brogrammer" (as in, a bro who programs) actually exists. In the United States, women comprised only 18 percent of computer science degree recipients and 25 percent of the computing workforce. The boards of the biggest tech companies like Facebook and Twitter are woefully devoid of women, and start-up culture and venture capital circles aren't exactly gender-equal, either.
All that said, women aren't absent from the tech scene. There's Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), Julie Larson-Green (Microsoft Xbox), Angela Ahrendts (Apple) and the hoards of young women coding their way into a brighter tech future for women. And it's high time to retire the hackneyed Hollywood portrayal of the computer geeks who are inheriting the earth as solely men with occasion sexy lady sidekicks whose tech know-how probably doesn't extend beyond Candy Crush. At this point, it's so predictable, unfunny and frankly untrue.
The newest bro-tech show on the block, HBO's forthcoming "Silicon Valley," starring a pack of funny guys and maybe one woman who plays a stripper. Talk about forward-thinking!
Amazon Prime's "Betas" is taglined "Conquering the world one byte at a time." And just who's doing the conquering? Four guys who have one very attractive female friend who doesn't know much of anything about 1s and 0s.
Sure, "The Social Network" focuses on Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook empire building, but critics finger-wagged at its glaringly vapid female characters. At the Daily Beast, Rebecca Davis O'Brien summed them up as "doting groupies, sexed-up Asians, vengeful sluts, or dumpy, feminist killjoys." Well, well.
As if Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs wasn't enough of a letdown, the movie also did poorly by the ladies. Over at Macworld, Philip Michaels' listicle of "Who Got Slighted in the Steve Jobs Movie" listed "Any woman employed in technology between 1976 and 2001." He continues: "It's a man's world in Jobs, where the only female characters to have speaking parts are women who either raised Steve Jobs, slept with him, married him, were fathered by him, or answered his phones."
Like "Silicon Valley," I'm a fan of the comics in "The IT Crowd," but the plot is the same predictable ladies-don't-know-nothin-bout-computers-derp. In it, Katherine Parkinson heads up the IT department of the fictional Reynholm Industries, but -- bet you didn't see this coming! -- she fibbed her way into the job and must rely on the techie guys for assistance. Hilarity ensues. Cue sad trombone.
And finally, we have the bizarrely most gender-balanced portrayal of the tech world: a soap opera-y reality show from Bravo. If this is as good as it gets, Hollywood needs to seriously step it up. I'd say someone should write a Sheryl Sandberg biopic, but I'm too nervous Aaron Sorken would give it "The Social Network" treatment and spend a majority of the film focusing on her college stint as an aerobics instructor.