Majority of Senior-Level Women in Tech Face Sexual Harassment, Survey Shows
Last February, tech exec Ellen Pao sued venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, alleging her former employer promoted men ahead of women, that women were often and swiftly dismissed, and that women who were sexually harassed at work received little-to-no support. She lost the case, but the trial catalyzed a study — just-released this week — that shows Pao was onto something: While dealing with discreet and overt discrimination, more than half of women in the tech industry report they've received unwanted sexual advances at the office and are unsatisfied with how the situation was handled.
The survey was launched by Trae Vassallo — a former Kleiner Perkins partner who made headlines when she testified on Pao's behalf — who wanted to spread the word about what really happens as women work their way to the C-Suite, especially in the tech industry. "What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace," Vassallo writes in the survey results. "In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories."
With the help of other female stand-outs and Stanford University, Vassallo surveyed more than 200 women who each had at least 10 years of experience in the tech industry, but whose backgrounds — ages, whether they had children, relationship statuses — widely varied. Here's what they discovered.
Most stark, perhaps, was the number of women who reported being sexually harassed at work. Sixty-percent of women reported receiving unwanted sexual advances at the office — and 65 percent of women say those advances came from a superior. One-third of those women, according to the survey results, felt fear at work thanks to those advances.
Of those who reported to their companies the unwanted verbal and physical attention they received, 60 percent said they were dissatisfied with how the situation was handled. In fact, the perceived company response is so bad that 39 percent of harassed women say they didn't bother to report the incident because they thought it might negatively impact their careers.
But the bad news doesn't stop there: Almost all of the women reported experiencing discrimination on the job. In fact, 87 percent said they've been on the receiving end of derogatory comments from male peers, while 47 percent have been asked to do menial work not required of their male counterparts. Another 66 percent said they've been excluded from attending networking events because of their gender, and 59 percent feel they haven't been afforded the same opportunities at work as their male peers.
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