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硅谷性别歧视由来已久?这本新书说得很明白

Jeff John Roberts 2017年11月12日

读一读莱斯利·柏林的著作能让我们更好地了解硅谷文化。

已故的苹果公司联合创始人史蒂夫·乔布斯生前喜欢跟硅谷老一代企业家聊天,他的理由是,“如果不了解历史,就无法了解当前发生的事。”对其他人来说,读一读莱斯利·柏林写的硅谷详史或许也能温故知新。

柏林的新书名叫《找麻烦的人》,非常有助于理解当下美国科技行业前所未有的性别歧视危机,政治压力,还有失控的社交媒体。

有些故事其实听起来很熟悉。举个例子,柏林讲述了乔布斯和其他硅谷大佬开发产品时深受硅谷反叛文化影响,都曾向传统企业开炮。书中还介绍了著名的“叛逆八人帮”(这八人甩开导师自行成立了仙童半导体公司,后来成了非常有名的企业),还介绍了施乐公司的PARC实验室诸多意识超前的发明。

Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs liked to hang out with an older generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs because, he claimed, “you can’t really understand what is going on now unless you understand what came before.” For the rest of us, Leslie Berlin’s sweeping new history of the Valley is the next best thing.

Berlin’s book, Troublemakers, is particularly essential reading at a time when the U.S. tech industry is facing an unprecedented crisis over sexism, declining political clout, and social media platforms run amok.

Some of its story is familiar. For example, Berlin recounts how Jobs and other techies drank deeply from the Bay Area’s counter culture as they built great products and set fire to corporate flimflam. The book also describes the “traitorous eight” (who ditched their mentor to launch Fairchild Semiconductor, and then famous firms of their own), and recounts the ahead-of-their-time inventions of Xerox’s PARC lab.

《找麻烦的人》,莱斯利·柏林著

不过书中大多数故事都名不见经传。从她的研究中可以发现,上世纪70年代硅谷曾出现大量创新,而且并不局限于计算机方面,例如网络、视频游戏和软件等,还包括生物科技、风险资本、市场推广和知识产权等领域。

硅谷吸引了大批行事风格特别的人(还有充满反叛精神的人),他们共同颠覆了传统观念里在公司、实验室或大学里工作的含义。乔布斯和英特尔的安迪·葛洛夫等科技行业传奇经常在《找麻烦的人》一书中出现,柏林比较反对历史“伟人”理论,更欣赏不那么知名却共同创造巨大价值的人。

总体来说,书中详尽介绍了一些意义重大的发现,例如基因重组和微型处理器等,也笔法轻快地说了一些略带颜色的段子,诸如裸体浴缸会议和沉迷大麻的程序员等。虽然柏林尊崇历史,不喜欢说教,但《找麻烦的人》书中回忆的不少故事都能看出,当前在硅谷引发强烈抗议的性别歧视问题有着很深的根源。

举个例子,第一位女性首席执行官,也是第一位带公司成功上市的女性桑德拉·科特齐格开会时经常被误认为“礼仪小姐”,长期以来科技行业里如果有女性入侵男性工程师地盘,挑战其权力或威信,一定会受到惩罚。此外,从柏林的描述中能看出上世纪70年代,硅谷大牛们很少关心附近居住的低收入人群,毫不在意自己的财富、技术优势还有鳞次栉比的办公楼对当地人生活造成多大压力。

如今随着科技行业开始应对当前的危机,借鉴《找麻烦的人》一书或许可以从长远角度看待硅谷的成功和问题所在。(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

Much of what Berlin recounts, though, is less well known. Her research reveals how Silicon Valley in the 1970s created a staggering amount of innovation not just in computer related fields—networking, video games, software—but other ones like biotechnology, venture capital, marketing and intellectual property.

The Valley attracted people who did things differently (and often defiantly), and came together to upend conventional views of what it meant to work in a company or a research lab or a university. While tech legends like Jobs and Intel’s Andy Grove turn up frequently in Troublemakers, Berlin rejects “great man” theories of history in favor of lesser-known figures who together made the value what it is.

Overall, the book does a masterful job explaining profound discoveries like recombinant DNA and microprocessors, while also keeping up a brisk narrative that’s aided by off-color accounts of naked hot tub meetings and pot-addled programmers. While Berlin prefers history to moralizing, such stories recounted in Troublemakers makes it clear the current outcry about sexism in the Valley is deeply-rooted.

For example, Sandra Kurtzig, a CEO and the first woman to take a company public, was often mistaken for a “booth babe” at conference shows, while male engineers across the industry have long been quick to punish any female intrusion on their power or prestige. Meanwhile, Berlin’s accounts show how, even in the 1970s, the hotshots of Silicon Valley appeared to care little about the lower income people nearby who they displaced with their wealth, technology and sprawling corporate compounds.

Today, as the tech industry comes to grips with its current crisis, Troublemakers provides a welcome long view of Silicon Valley’s triumphs and troubles.

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