More lawsuits

Is Silicon Valley just one big ‘old boys’ club’?

Three gender discrimination lawsuits question how progressive the forward-thinking tech industry really is

Ellen Pao, center, plaintiff in the suit against the prominent venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Jason Henry/The New York Times

As the notorious Silicon Valley gender discrimination suit Pao vs. Kleiner approaches its final argument, social media giants Facebook and Twitter have also been hit with separate lawsuits. These suits call into question the underlying issues facing women in the tech industry. From gender-based hiring practices, to antiquated and discriminatory language, the forward-thinking rhetoric we hear from Silicon Valley may not always be echoed behind office doors.

Twitter is under scrutiny for its hiring practices, facing a lawsuit from a former female software engineer, Reuters reports. According to the suit, “Tina Huang alleges that the company has no formal procedures for granting promotions, and instead relies on a “shoulder tap” process that explains why few women are in high-level engineering positions.”

Further allegations from Huang’ suit against Twitter also disappoint:

— “Effectively discouraging women from seeking or applying for senior level and leadership positions.”

— “Failing and refusing to consider women for promotion on the same basis as men are considered.”

— “Providing women employees interested in promotion shifting, inconsistent and inaccurate statements about the requirements and qualifications necessary for promotion.”

— “Retaliating against women employees who complain of unequal treatment.”

This comes in the wake of Chia Hong’s class action suit against Facebook, claiming sex discrimination and harassment. According to the suit, not only was Hong admonished when she exercised her right to take time off for her children, but she was also subjected to belittling language.

Hong’s suit also alleges:

— “Regularly ignoring or belittling (Hong)’s professional opinions and input at group meetings in which she was the only woman or one of very few”

— “Asking (Hong) why she did not just stay home and take care of her child instead of having a career”

— “Admonishing (Hong) for taking one personal day per month to volunteer at her child’s school”

And, it gets even better:

— “Ordering (Hong) to organize parties and serve drinks to male colleagues”

These are troubling allegations, even as some companies in the tech industry (Facebook included), are attempting to create more options for women in the workplace.

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