According to a survey conducted by Ellen K. Pao, sexual harassment affects 60% of Silicon Valley women tech workers in a variety of ways. Although Pao lost the sexual harassment case aimed at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, this did not stop her in any way to pursue the goal of showing the entire world how Silicon Valley views these types of harassments.
The study in question was given the name Elephant in the Valley, rather appropriate considering how most businesses and firms opt to not disclose any information regarding their female employees being sexually harassed. But this also is hoped to help women who find themselves in these types of situations, with the study conductors urging them to speak up in order for the ones harassing them to be brought to justice.
More than 200 women from different firms with a 10-year experience in the field were interviewed in the study, leading to somewhat grim results. Almost all of them, 90%, have been witnesses to sexist behavior in offsite company offices and conference meetings, with women being asked to bring food or take notes while men were left alone to talk in peace.
Superiors subjecting their female employees to sexual advances were also pretty common, with 60% of the study participants encountering such events, ranging from groping to being ask to sit on the man’s lap. The same percentage of women were also found to be dissatisfied with the outcomes of their filed complaints, with some of them even being fired or demoted once they claimed how their superiors were sexually harassing them.
Business clients also had a similar approach when talking about discrimination, with 88% of the study participants stating how clients asked to talk to a male employee instead of talking to them. Interviews are also conducted in a discriminatory fashion because 75% of the women involved with the study said how they were asked time and time again about their family or marriage situation when opting to apply for a job.
Of course, demeaning comments and remarks aimed at female workers were as common as dirt, with 87% of them being elected as a viable target. These comments ranged from how they looked on certain occasions to how, in some cases, they were expected to quit because they were pregnant. The latter was the most common, with 75% of the 200 women encompassed in the study going through one or more pregnancies in the 10 year period.
Because employers have adopted a more sophisticated manner when approaching gender-based harassment in accordance with the currently protected characteristics, this type of harassment has become rather hard to spot at first glance. By making gender bias not easily seen, it can flourish in certain companies, to the severe detriment of their female employees.
Bearing in mind the fact that sexual harassment affects 60% of Silicon Valley women tech workers, the Elephant in the Valley study will remain active so that women can post anonymously about the types of harassment they encounter at work. Hopefully, through intense diversity training and by showing the general public some companies’ business practices, this discrimination will be efficiently pulled out from the roots.