Silicon Valley's Latest Plot Twist Is Just What It Needed

Photo: Courtesy HBO.
Silicon Valley, HBO’s satirical take on start-up culture, just got the plot twist it so desperately needed: its first female developer.

The addition is important for several reasons: first, to dispel the misconception that engineering and startups are vocations almost exclusively made up of men; and second, to show a broad audience that women can be smart, funny, and technologically gifted.

Other than adding a new woman VC character, Laurie Bream, in its Season 2 premiere (and the existing character of Monica, now Laurie's assistant and a Pied Piper board member), Silicon Valley has been largely devoid of female characters of any kind. The glaring gender disparity — either an oversight on the part of the show’s creators (Hollywood has a gender problem of its own) or a purposefully uncomfortable depiction of real-life Silicon Valley — has, until now, been a turn-off for some potential viewers. Developer Julie Horvath is among them.

“Personally knowing and having worked with plenty of talented women who are engineers, it seems lazy, at best, to only include women in roles as venture capitalists — which is even more demographically inaccurate — or on marketing teams, where anecdotally, women have occupied their only seats at the table in the industry,” Horvath told Refinery29 after seeing the first episode of Season 2 last month.

Another female software developer, Emma-Ashley Liles, tweeted about the show: “It’s funny, but I wish there were more women in it being programmers...Maybe even one that was a woman-in-tech activist. That could be funny and realistic, too.”

Well, it looks like we’ve finally got some semblance of that. As Pied Piper searches to expand its team in Episode 4 this season, Dinesh and Gilfoyle recommend Carla, an engineer they've worked with before and respect. The ever-awkward character Jared gets excited: “We want to hire the best people. Who happen to be women. Regardless of whether or not they are women — that part is irrelevant.” 

He's equally awkward during his interview with Carla, who's fantastic. As Jared continues to stumble over his well-meaning sentiments, Carla sets him straight: “I’m not a ‘woman engineer.’ I’m an engineer.”

Bam. Over the course of the episode, we learn that Carla is every bit as quick-witted and prank-prone as the other members of the Pied Piper team. She is a natural fit for their quirky, offbeat gang of coders. Yes, the "best people" can be female — and yes, the female part is irrelevant. 

You can catch the latest episode of HBO's Silicon Valley (appropriately titled "The Lady") on HBO, HBO Go, or its standalone streaming app, HBO Now
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