Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

84 Percent of Experienced Women in Tech Have Been Told They're Too Aggressive

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From the revelations in Ellen Pao’s sexual discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins (which she lost in March 2015, apparently deemed officially aggressive/ bad at her job rather than sexually harassed/ excluded from executive dinners on the basis of her gender) to all the venture capitalists who over the weekend have been explicitly rooting for the harassment of female journalists on Twitter, the obvious has become more obvious over the last year: Silicon Valley is an unwelcoming place for women. Now, a new survey makes the extent of these problems even clearer.

The Elephant in the Valley survey “came out of the incredible conversation from the Ellen Pao & KPCB trial,” write the leaders, one of whom is a former partner at Kleiner Perkins, who testified in Pao’s trial that she’d also been harassed by the man in question.

What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace. In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories. We focused on five main areas including: Feedback & Promotion, Inclusion, Unconscious biases, Motherhood, and Harassment & Safety.


They surveyed “200+” women, “focusing on women with at least 10 years of experience. The survey is largely bay area with 91% in the bay area/silicon valley right now. We have a broad age ranges with 77% 40+ and 75% have children. Our respondents hold positions of power and influence with 25% are a CXOs, 11% are Founders, 11% are in venture.”

The results are disheartening. For example, on basic workplace dynamics:

84% have been told that they were too aggressive, with half hearing that on multiple occasions.

It is difficult for women in tech to strike the right balance without being seen as too meek or too harsh:

  • 47% have been asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues are not asked to do (e.g., note-taking, ordering food, etc.)
  • 32% disagree that they have been asked to do these tasks.

And, in terms of sexual misconduct:

60% of women in Tech reported unwanted sexual advances

  • 65% of women who report unwanted sexual advances had received advances from a superior, with half receiving advances more than once
  • 1 in 3 have felt afraid of their personal safety because of work related circumstances

The Elephant in the Valley website has collected personal accounts from the women surveyed, as well as more dismaying statistics—and is calling for more people to share their anonymous stories here.

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Image via HBO