A thorough, important examination of the often sleazy, male-dominated world of Silicon Valley.

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BREAKING UP THE BOYS' CLUB OF SILICON VALLEY

An in-depth analysis of the tech-industry brotherhood.

Why aren’t there more women working in Silicon Valley? According to Bloomberg TV journalist Chang, “women hold a mere quarter of computing jobs in the United States, down from 36 percent in 1991.” In her first book, the author takes a deep dive into this frat-boy–like society of engineers and designers, an environment that has “become toxic for women.” Beginning with a brief history of the invention of the first computers and the roles women played in developing software for them (think Hidden Figures), Chang shows how personality tests helped force women out of this burgeoning industry. “If you select for an antisocial nerd stereotype,” writes the author, “you will hire more men and fewer women; that’s what the research tells us.” Companies flourished in this male-dominant world, and Chang describes the excessive partying that commonly takes place on the weekends at work-sponsored events. Networking sometimes takes place while sitting in hot tubs, joining in “cuddle puddles,” and/or going to a strip club. The women who do manage to find positions in the industry are constantly subjected to sexual harassment and advances, made to feel inferior; many have even been threatened with rape and/or death. While conducting research, Chang interviewed countless women in the industry, including engineers, video game designers, and those who have scaled to the top—e.g., Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. The women who persevere endure these daily stresses in order to work in a field they love. As the #metoo movement accelerates, this unveiling of the sordid world behind some of the most valuable companies in the world comes as no surprise, but Chang’s scrutiny breaks open a wide doorway, allowing fresh ideas about a tainted industry to circulate and spark discussions.

A thorough, important examination of the often sleazy, male-dominated world of Silicon Valley.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1353-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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