Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
As a woman in tech myself — working as I have, for (*gasp*) 13 years in Information Security — I was drawn to this book and overall I wasn’t disappointed.
Uncanny Valley presents a woman’s perspective on silicon valley have-it-all tech start up culture. For that perspective on an industry that is so dominated by masculinity and one-up-man-ship, this is worth a read.
Anna had come from a small literary agency in Manhatten, with a self-confessed ignorance to the happenings of Silicon Valley. This was at the time the tech startup bubble was at it’s peak and many of the platforms that are ubiquitous now were in their infancy. In 2013, she took a job with an eBook startup and her adventure through the madness, money and mayhem began.
This book walks a fine line between exposing the overwhelming masculinity and frivolity of the tech startup industry, and the reality of navigating that as a woman without being overbearing on the subject of femininism. Not to say there aren’t situations that are totally unacceptable in this book’s pages, but the promotion of Women in Tech drumbeat isn’t a dominant feature. And honestly, that came as a welcome relief.
I did find Uncanny Valley repetitive at times, with similar themes and stories recurring in just slightly different settings. The writing style too became dull as the book went on which is reflected in my Pixie Reads rating. That said, for the perspective this book offers, I would still view it as recommended reading.
For a slightly different perspective on Silicon Valley startup life, I can also recommend ‘Disrupted’ by Dan Lyons (currently available free through Kindle Unlimited in the UK). Dan has somewhat more life experience (how to say he’s older but in a nice way…) than the entrepreneurs chasing the Zuckerburg dream. Dan’s story is full of just as much challenge, extravagance and toxicity as Anna’s UnCanny Valley and acts as a counterweight to the impression that it’s only women that get the short end of the wedge within the tech industry.
Book read date: January 2021
Pixie Reads rating: 6/10