Silicon Valley Lacks Diversity Because They Can't Find Any in Palo Alto, Says Producer

Illustration for article titled Silicon Valley Lacks Diversity Because They Can't Find Any in Palo Alto, Says Producer

During a panel at South by Southwest, Alec Berg—a producer on HBO’s Silicon Valley—defended his show’s oft-criticized lack of diversity by pointing out how the tech world that they’re satirizing is indeed very white and male. (Note: It’s not the first time they’ve used this line of defense.)


“Tech is 87% male. VC at the partner level is 96% white and male,” Berg said. “The world that we’re depicting is very much off kilter.”

And by shooting at real-life tech events, he added, the show becomes even more limited in the diversity they’re able to reflect.

Via Business Insider:

The crew went to TechCrunch Disrupt, a startup competition also featured in the show, to film footage of the crowd, Berg explained.

During the review process once the footage was woven in, another editor criticized the crowd shots for not featuring any women and blamed Berg for the oversight.

“She said those crowd shots were absurd,” Berg told the crowd at SXSW. “Those were real shots of the real place, and we didn’t frame women out. The world we’re depicting is fucked up.”

Executive producer Mike Judge weighed in, describing what it was like to visit Palo Alto tech companies as research: “That’s where we realized it really is 87% dudes.”

The series, Berg claims, is not trying to be the “social-action wing” of television, which fiiiiine. That’s cool. Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity doesn’t particularly rankle me, but—then again—I’m not one of the many women struggling to make it in tech.


More bothersome, perhaps, is that the Silicon Valley SXSW panel was, as Business Insider’s Biz Carson reports, an entirely white male line-up, meaning that once again, the power to change the TV landscape rests in the hands of the same people who make it so homogenous to begin with.

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Image via Silicon Valley/HBO.



I buy this, though. I don’t have a problem with the lack of diversity on this show, because I feel like its entire role is lampooning the absurdity of silicon valley culture. It’s supposed to be an exaggerated version of start-up/venture politics, not an idealized version of it. They even have a whole episode about hiring a female developer and the fact that everyone immediately expects her to be best friends with the only other woman represented in the company. I don’t think it could accomplish social commentary like that by presenting a super diverse made-for-tv version of SV. It would almost feel like they were ignoring the reality of the situation by depicting it any differently.