The vast majority of these “young engineers” are male. But women and men have different views and worries about emerging technologies. According to a study conducted by Intel, when it comes to AI, women are much more concerned than men about privacy, data, and security.

“We’ve just come through a year of women talking pretty explicitly about all the ways they have felt like they were on display, and visible and taken advantage of,” Genevieve Bell points out. Like me, Bell suspects Facebook and Twitter might be very different, and perhaps more civil, platforms had a diverse group of women had input in product decisions early on. And we are reminded every day that civil is one thing social media is not.

At the height of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, social networks were again weaponized to hurl hateful messages on both sides. Both Ford and Kavanaugh reported they were harassed online and received death threats, and vicious threats against their families. And yet there were glimmers of technology also delivering unity and hope.

Ford might never have been granted her hearing if the tech-powered #MeToo movement had not been fresh, if women across the country had not felt the increasing sense of connectedness provided by social networks. One lawyer, Jeanne Christensen, who has represented sexual assault victims in lawsuits against tech companies like Uber, told me she expects many more women to come forward as a result of the bravery of Dr. Ford and so many others. “The sexual harassment that the whole world seems to be hearing about just now has been going on for years. The difference is that people are actually paying attention,” Christensen said. “I think that we are on the tip of an iceberg.”

Excerpted from BROTOPIA: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Emily Chang, 2019.

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