When more than half of less than half of an industry have been harassed, you have a problem
We all know that we need to tackle the gender imbalance in the tech industry; there are a number of initiatives dedicated to recruiting more women and ensuring that they’re represented. In fact, only today Lord Alan Sugar tweeted about one:
We desperately need more women in tech https://t.co/ZROWjlzRTr…
— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) January 11, 2016
But what about the women already in the industry? We’re trying so hard to get women into tech that sometimes the importance of the experience of the women already working in it is eclipsed. Well, according to a new study called ‘Elephant in the Valley‘ which focusses on women who have been working in Silicon Valley for at least 10 years, their experiences have been less than positive. A lot less.
The study questioned over 200 women on five main areas: Feedback & Promotion, Inclusion, Unconscious biases, Motherhood, and Harassment & Safety. In terms of geography, the survey is mostly based in the Bay area/Silicon Valley with 91% of respondents working there. It covers a wide range of women from a wide range of companies, with 77% of respondents being over the age of 40, 11% being company founders and others coming from large companies such as Apple, Google, and VMWare.
What the study has found from questioning this wide range of women is pretty damning evidence that though we should focus on bringing more women into the tech industry, we also have to drastically improve the experience for the women already working in it.
84% of women said they had been told they were being aggressive, with half of this number being told so on multiple occasions.
66% said they felt excluded from networking opportunities because of their gender.
90% said they had witnessed sexist behaviour at company offsites and/or industry conferences.
87% of women had experienced demeaning comments from male colleagues.
75% had been asked about their family life, marital status, and children in interviews.
60% said they had experienced unwanted sexual advances, with 1 in 3 having felt afraid for their personal safety because of work related circumstances.
These aren’t even all of the figures, more of which can be found here along with personal stories. You can’t ignore the problem when it’s recorded in numbers as stark as these. The women behind the survey want to correct the massive information disparity that exists when it comes to women’s experiences of working in the tech industry and you can help them by anonymously adding your own experiences so that more stories can be heard. The world needs to know.