Much is made of the bro culture of Silicon Valley – and for good reason. Several high profile women have spoken out about the harassment and discrimination they faced in the workplace, companies have talked a great deal about how they want more women in tech, but then struggled to recruit or keep them, and much of the networking is built around events that aren’t inherently friendly to women.
Bar hopping with a bunch of guys then hitting a hot tub isn’t necessarily the best way for a woman to be respected in the work place.
But still, not everything is awful in Silicon Valley for women. Want to be part of the tech culture in California? Here are some pros and cons that would be facing you if you decide to relocate to Silicon Valley to jumpstart your career.
Fantastic Opportunities – If You Can Access Them
There’s no question that the tech boom is still centered in Silicon Valley. While areas like Denver, Austin, Richmond, and more are working hard to expand their tech-friendliness and bring in more venture capital, Silicon Valley is still the primary place to find and create the very best talent for the very best companies. If women can hack it in the environment, some of the most amazing opportunities in tech are here. Unfortunately, too few companies really make their culture welcoming to women.
It’s not just the sexual harassment; women are less likely to access venture capital, less likely to get startup loans from banks, and are more likely to struggle with building the right contacts to get ahead in the cutthroat world of the tech center. Women will likely spend more time than their male counterparts just trying to convince people that they’re actually good at tech, coding, engineering, or similar skills. That can be frustrating and wear a person down over time.
Ability to Create Real Change
That said, women who are able to get good positions in tech startups within Silicon Valley are able to start making real change. You don’t have to have a corner-suite in a unicorn business to start making changes.
Women can start by pointing out sexism when it happens, working together to believe each other and support each other instead of participating in victim-blaming cultures, and working to mentor those who are younger and more inexperienced than them. Men in tech have a tremendous advantage, but for the playing field to shift, women need to make, build, and fortify inroads.
Some Companies Strive for Diversity
The need for diversity is apparent; companies with more diverse boards and officers have better success over time than those who are primarily made up of men. Knowing this, more venture capital companies are working to consciously change their policies and approaches around funding companies that only have men on the team, and bringing women into the decision making room for funding conversations.
Women who find themselves in environments where diversity is valued may be able to make tremendous progress for themselves and for other women trying to break into the field. Yes, one woman in a business is likely to be considered the “exception that breaks the rule,” but as more women follow in her footsteps, her success is likely to be taken more seriously. This can create a tremendous benefit for women overall, in tech and in business in general.
Impressive Perks at Many Tech Companies
Women working at tech companies can sometimes receive incredible perks as companies struggle to retain a diverse staff. Sometimes these perks, like egg freezing, seem more self-serving than anything else – companies benefit when women put off childrearing and stay focused on their careers – but other businesses offer flex time, generous maternity policies, and more in order to keep women in their offices. Again, some businesses have recognized the truth that diverse hires create diverse businesses which are better able to thrive over time.
Women often face a steep uphill road when it comes to surviving in the bro culture of Silicon Valley. They may often prefer to look into the kind of opportunities that can be found in the global marketplace, or in one of the many thriving tech centers developing in the United States and globally.
They may be able to make bigger leaps and drive better changes outside of Silicon Valley – but it may also be the right place to go and build their company. If they feel there is no other place to get started than the Bay Area, they should go – and give them hell.