“Disconcertingly thought-provoking.” —TechCrunch
"Nineteen disruptive, disturbing and divergent voices ... an honest portrait of a network of gender-oppressed people leaning every which way." —Feministing
"Everyone who hires or manages anyone in tech ought to read the remarkable book Lean Out. If tech companies are unwelcoming places, to hell with them. Start your own company and run it better." —The Los Angeles Times
Why aren’t the great, qualified women already in tech being hired or promoted?
Should people who don’t fit in seek to join an institution that is actively hostile to them?
Does the tech industry deserve women leaders?
The split between the stated ideals of the corporate elite and the reality of working life for women in the tech industry—whether in large public tech companies or VC-backed start-ups, in anonymous gaming forums, or in Silicon Valley or Alley—seems designed to crush women’s spirits. Corporate manifestos by women who already fit in (or who are able to convincingly fake it) aren’t helping. There is a high cost for the generation of young women and transgender people currently navigating the harsh realities of the tech industry, who gave themselves to their careers only to be ignored, harassed and disrespected.
Not everyone can be a CEO; not everyone is able to embrace a workplace culture that diminishes the contributions of women and ignores real complaints. The very culture of high tech, where foosball tables and endless supplies of beer are de facto perks, but maternity leave and breast-feeding stations are controversial, is designed to appeal to young men. Lean Out collects 25 stories from the modern tech industry, from people who fought GamerGate and from women and transgender artists who have made their own games, from women who have started their own companies and who have worked for some of the most successful corporations in America, from LGBTQ women, from women of color, from transgender people and people who do not ascribe to a gender. All are fed up with the glacial pace of cultural change in America’s tech industry.
Included are essays by anna anthropy, Leigh Alexander, Sunny Allen, Lauren Bacon, Katherine Cross, Dom DeGuzman, FAKEGRIMLOCK, Krys Freeman, Gesche Haas, Ash Huang, Erica Joy, Jenni Lee, Katy Levinson, Melanie Moore, Leanne Pittsford, Brook Shelley, Elissa Shevinsky, Erica Swallow, and Squinky. Edited and selected by entrepreneur and tech veteran Elissa Shevinsky, Lean Out sees a possible way forward that uses tech and creative disengagement to jettison 20th century corporate culture: “I’ve figured out a way to create safe space for myself in tech,” writes Shevinsky. “I’ve left Silicon Valley, and now work remotely from home. I adore everyone on my team, because I hired them myself.”