Is "Bro-Culture" Inherently Sexist?

A woman sued Google last week, saying that she experienced sexual harassment in Google’s “bro-culture.” I won’t go into what she alleges that she experienced because you can read that for yourself if you like, but it got me thinking about what creates “bro-culture.” Is it just that groups of men, when they’re together, will gravitate towards gang-like behavior? Is it the same with women? I don’t think it’s that simple.

What is bro-culture?

To me, the word bro-culture is so evocative of a specific image that it is difficult to even unpack what it means. I will do my best. A bro is an entitled man, usually white, who has enough money to dress in expensive sports-related clothes and acts like a spoiled child.

Bro-culture happens when you have a critical mass of bros together in one place so that the power imbalance shifts from capable adult humans and the bros are the ones setting the cultural norms. Silicon valley is notorious for being a vortex of bro-culture, as this lawsuit represents. The bros are the ones hiring, firing, and disciplining people. The bros are deciding whose opinions get recognized in meetings.

I have worked in jobs that are male-dominated, but not bro-culture, and I have worked in bro-cult