A recent survey has shown that more than 60% of the women who work in Silicon Valley are the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. About two-thirds of these instances of harassment have come from people higher up in the company than the female victims. The Survey was titled “The Elephant in the Valley”, and it was conducted by seven women.
The survey authors wrote, “The inspiration for this survey came out of the incredible conversation from the Ellen Pao and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers trial. 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.”
Some of the women responsible for producing the survey include former general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Trae Vassallo, angel investor Ellen Levy and media and marketing research consultant Michele Madansky.
Last year, Vassallo received a court subpoena to testify against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in the Ellen Pao trial, which concerned gender discrimination and retaliation. During her testimony, Vassallo recounted unwanted advances from a male colleague named Ajit Nazre. It was this testimony that made Vassallo realize just how widespread such instances were in the industry.
Vassallo stated, “The surprising thing for me was that in talking about it, I had an overwhelming number of women come back to me after that experience and say: ‘Thank you for talking about it. By the way, that is what I lived through.’ And what was shocking to me was that I was not the only one and what really got me was the fact that just anecdotally, it seemed like more than half of all the women I talked to had some horrific set of experiences.”
The survey interviewed 220 women working in Silicon Valley, and 90% of those interviewed said that they had previously witnessed sexist behavior at either company off-sites or at industry conferences. Meanwhile, 87% said that they have heard sexist comments from their colleagues at one point or another. More than three-quarters of the women who were surveyed were over the age of 40. Companies that were represented in the survey included Apple and Google.
Meanwhile, it was also discovered that many instances of sexual harassment went unreported. This was largely because the victims did not want it to have a negative impact on their careers. Others said they just wanted to move forward and forget about the troubling incidents. And when action was taken, 60% of the victims said they were dissatisfied with the final outcome.
Additionally, the survey found that gender discrimination also occurred in other forms. During company interviews, 75% of the women said that they were asked questions regarding their family life, marital status and children. Roughly 40% of the survey participants said that they avoid discussing their families at work in order to be taken more seriously. One respondent said that she has stopped keeping photographs of her children at work for this very reason.