Managing people

“The elephant in Silicon Valley”: New study shines light on sexism and harassment in the startup world

Denham Sadler /

 

A new study has shone a spotlight on women in tech’s stories of sexual harassment, discrimination and exclusion in the startup world.

 

For the study the authors surveyed over 200 women working in or around Silicon Valley with at least 10 years of experience and found that 60% had experienced sexual harassment.

 

On the study’s site, the authors say the purpose of it is to make this sort of information readily available for those in the industry.

 

“What we realised is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace,” the authors says.

 

“In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories.”

 

Other stats show that 90% of the women surveyed had witnessed sexist behaviour at industry conferences, one in three have felt afraid for their personal safety due to work-related circumstances and 60% of those that did report sexual harassment felt “dissatisfied with the course of action”.

 

Nearly 40% of those asked didn’t report this behaviour because they “thought it would negatively impact their career”.

 

“Each woman I talked to had some set of stories they wanted to share,” co-author Trae Vassallo told Re/Code.

 

“The surprising thing for me was that in talking about it, I had an overwhelming number of women come back to me after that experience and say: ‘Thank you for talking about it…that is what I lived through’.

 

“It seemed like more than half of all the women I talked to had some horrific set of experiences.”

 

Other findings in the study include:

 

 

  • 84% were told they were “too aggressive”
  • 46% believe they were asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues are not
  • 66% felt excluded from key social and networking opportunities because of their gender
  • 59% felt they have not had the same opportunities as male counterparts
  • 88% have experienced clients and colleagues addressing questions to male peers that should have         been addressed to them
  • 75% were asked about family life, marital status and children in job interviews
  • 65% of unwanted sexual advances were from a superior

 

 

You can read the full study and the individual stories here.

 

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Denham Sadler

Denham Sadler is a former editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.

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