October 11, 2017
There are two great fictional TV series about technology and the computer industry that each have now had multiple seasons. The one everyone knows about is Silicon Valley (HBO). The lessor-known one is Halt and Catch Fire (AMC). In my opinion, Halt and Catch Fire annihilates Silicon Valley.
My main issue with Silicon Valley, being a woman in tech, is (obviously) that women are grossly underrepresented in this show. Everyone knows about the debate at this point and everyone has opinions on it. Here is mine: defending the lack of women on this show as it being “an accurate representation of tech in Silicon Valley” is dangerous and misleading. There is something inherently wrong about being in a place that can illicit change and not taking on that challenge.
The women-in-tech issue will remain a cyclical finger-pointing game until people start stepping up and doing something about it. Young adults watch TV, and those young adults are influenced by those shows. If young women don’t see themselves represented in the leading tech show on TV, they are going to subconsciously assume they don’t belong in that world. If a show about the tech industry showed powerful women being powerful and paid no mind that they are an anomaly in the current tech climate, it would show more women a career they might not have considered.
Enter Halt and Catch Fire.
“What if there was a Mad Men-style retro TV show that focused on tech? And what if that show, a fictional drama, somehow got most of the beats right about the history of Silicon Valley during its rise in the ’80s and ’90s? “ – Adario Strange
Halt and Catch Fire is a wonderful, fast-moving, women-leading tech show that takes place in the past and is fun to watch and try to match up tech of the past with modern day programs and devices.
“Halt and Catch Fire is at its best in the moments in which it crafts a narrative in which women and people of color are in the spotlight, giving rise to major tech innovations as leaders. Of course, there were actual women and people of color helping lead the tech industry in the ’80s and ’90s — and they often received little credit or exposure. The reality presented by Halt and Catch Fire offers a powerful counter-narrative of how tech history might have played out in a tech industry somewhat less controlled by sexist norms (although sexism is still a challenge women face in the show).” – Read More
The best thing about Halt and Catch Fire? No one says anything about the lead women being women. No one questions their abilities to lead or to code or to handle their assigned tasks. Their personalities dictate their work, not their gender. As a young woman in tech, these are the representations I love to see and crave more of. No one needs to comment that they are females doing work that was usually done by males. No one questions how good they are at their job or if they know what they are doing just because they are women. Seeing powerful women being powerful and no one questioning them about their authority or attitude or outfits shows young women that they can rise to these challenges and no one will question them. Don’t be timid, go out and concur.
You can catch up on Halt and Catch Fire here, and you can cancel your HBO subscription until Insecure and Game of Thrones come back.