Sexual Harassment Remains Rampant in Silicon Valley, Survey Finds

The #MeToo movement led to a reckoning with sexual harassment in the workplace. More than three years later, however, most female founders do not believe it has resulted in lasting positive change in how women in the tech industry are treated.

Women Who Tech surveyed over 1,000 women who are tech employees, founders and investors. When comparing the results to a similar 2017 survey, the nonprofit organization found that many women are still dealing with toxic workplace cultures.

Around 48 percent of surveyed women said they experienced harassment at work, of which 43 percent was sexual in nature. Some respondents even reported being propositioned for sex to get a promotion. Over 40 percent of women reported being harassed by a boss or an investor.

The findings also indicated that many cases of sexual harassment continue to go unreported. Only 45 percent of surveyed women in tech reported incidents of harassment to senior leadership, marking a decrease from 55 percent in the 2017 survey.

Allyson Kapin, the founder of Women Who Tech, said that while the #MeToo movement has armed some women with the courage to speak up about sexual harassment, the tech industry still suffers from a lack of accountability. The survey findings reflected a lack of confidence in senior management and human resources departments, which often seem more focused on protecting companies from liability rather than looking out for employees.

More than 65 percent of women in tech said they do not have much faith in how their company will handle harassment complaints. Because the tech industry remains male-dominated, women may fear retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.

Kapin said the goal should be to create a workplace that does not tolerate a toxic culture of harassment. Employers in the tech industry should also ensure employees can safely report incidents of sexual harassment without the fear of retaliation.

Sexual harassment in any workplace is illegal under California law. Employees experiencing sexual harassment should speak to a knowledgeable employment lawyer to learn about their legal options. Contact Erlich Law Firm for a free initial consultation.

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