A new, small study titled “Elephant in The Room” details the sexism and prejudice many women in the tech world face, and reveals that 60 percent of women in the industry say they have been sexually harassed. The study anonymously surveyed 220 women in tech, most of whom had been working in tech for over 10 years. Trae Vassallo, one of the authors of the study and a former partner at famed venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, testified at the Ellen Pao discrimination trial and said this provided the inspiration for the survey, as an “overwhelming number” of women approached her afterwards to share their own stories of harassment. On Re/Code’s Decode podcast, she explained that the elephant their study refers to is ”that women face a lot of conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace, and we wanted to get the data on the experiences that women face out in the public for conversation.”
The results of the study are discouraging: not only did six out of 10 women report unwanted sexual advances, but 39 percent of those who were harassed did nothing because they feared blowback; while 60 percent of those who did file reports were “dissatisfied” with how things turned out. “This isn’t asking your coworker on a date,” Vassallo explained to Re/code. “These are power play situations, where you’re turning someone down in a sexual way, and there’s some sort of meaningful impact on your ability to do your job.” But sexism also manifests itself in different ways: for example, 84 percent of women had been told that they were too “aggressive”, while 66 percent felt excluded from social and networking opportunities because of their gender. Besides data, the study also offers several stories from women in the industry – including a client asking one woman “to sit on her lap”, and her company ignoring this, and another one being followed to her car by aggressive event attendees on several occasions.