‘Cracking The Bro Code’ In Computing Cultures – Book Review


The University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, has published “Cracking the Bro Code,” by Coleen Carrigan, an associate professor of science, technology, and society.

Uncovering Sexism and Racism in Tech

Carrigan’s work is more than just a book; it’s a bold ethnographic journey that dives deep into the often overlooked yet pervasive issues of sexism and racism thriving within contemporary computing cultures. As an associate professor and former senior manager in Big Tech, Carrigan brings a unique perspective on harassment in tech, combining scholarly rigor with lived experiences.

In “Cracking the Bro Code,” Carrigan unveils the harsh realities faced by women, nonbinary individuals and people of color within the tech industry. Drawing from her own encounters and observations, she meticulously outlines the systemic challenges that act as formidable barriers to broadening participation in computing fields.

The Need for Social Purpose

One of the key arguments Carrigan makes is the indispensable role of embracing a social purpose within the tech realm. Computing leaders promise that their platforms and products serve the public good, but Carrigan shares views from inside the computing workplace that invite skepticism about computing’s service to humanity. She argues that this failed promise is a significant reason why the field lags behind other STEM fields in welcoming and retaining a wide range of practitioners.

She skillfully intertwines discussions on altruism, race, gender and computing, advocating for a transformative shift from a culture of hostility and exclusion to one that champions inclusivity and acceptance. 

By fostering an environment that is not only inclusive but also welcoming, Carrigan highlights the immense potential for positive impacts on both technology production and its societal applications.

The Power of Inclusivity

Through her compelling narrative, she invites readers to envision a future where inclusivity and justice are not just aspirations but fundamental pillars of computing’s workplace culture and its policies and practices.

“Cracking the Bro Code” serves as a poignant call to action, challenging us to dismantle existing barriers, hold computing corporations accountable to democratic values, and forge a future where women of color, white women, and nonbinary people are offered opportunities, resources and respect to perfect the skills required for leadership in this century.

Carrigan’s empathetic tone, combined with her intimate portraits of workers and students historically disenfranchised from computing in the United States, make this book not just a scholarly endeavor but a compelling narrative that inspires institutional change.

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