Sexual harassment still rampant in tech industry

According to a new study, women working in California’s tech industry still experience high levels of discrimination and harassment. The study was spearheaded by a woman who testified at the gender discrimination trial of venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins in 2012. After detailing the harassment she experienced as a partner at the firm, other women working in Silicon Valley approached her with similar stories, so she was inspired to further investigate the issue.

The study surveyed more than 200 women with at least 10 years experience working in the tech industry. Most of them are employed at companies located in the Bay Area or Silicon Valley, such as Apple and Google. The results are sobering. Sixty percent of survey participants said they were the victims of unwanted sexual advances, 65 percent said those advances were made by their work superiors, 90 percent said they witnessed sexist comments or actions at offsite functions and 84 percent said colleagues had accused them of being “too aggressive” at work.

In addition to blatant incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination, a co-author of the study says that many women also experience unintentional bias from their male peers. Some of this bias occurs while women are interviewing for tech jobs. For example, 75 percent of those surveyed reported being asked about their marital status, children and family life during employment interviews. Examples included women being asked if they intended to “run off” and have a baby and what their views on abortion were.

California workers who experience workplace discrimination or harassment of any kind may benefit by speaking with an attorney about their legal options. In some cases, the process of seeking redress may require the initial filing of a claim with the appropriate state or federal agency.

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