Two former Silicon Valley employees authored a study that discovered that roughly 60 percent of female employees in Silicon Valley have been sexually harassed. The authors surveyed more than 200 women who had at least 10 years of work experience about their experiences working in the high-tech field. Many of the women are employed at Apple, Google, and other large companies, or are employed at tech startups. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed have children, and the women are mostly located in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
The study had some disturbing findings about experiences for women employees in the high-tech industry. Sixty percent of those surveyed reported being the target of unwanted sexual advances from a superior. Of those who reported the sexual harassment, 60 percent of those women were dissatisfied with the outcome. Roughly one-third of female employees say that they felt afraid for their personal safety because of work-related circumstances. Women in the study reported a variety of disturbing situations, including a client asking a woman to sit on his lap if she wanted to make a sale and being groped by bosses.
Sexual harassment is not the only problem for women in Silicon Valley – sexism is alive and well. Ninety percent of those surveyed had witnessed sexist behavior at industry conferences or offsite visits. Of those surveyed, 88 percent have had clients or colleagues address questions to male peers rather than to them; two-thirds have been excluded from networking opportunities because of their gender; 85 percent have received demeaning comments from male colleagues; three-quarters were asked about marriage and children in job interviews; and almost half were asked to do lower-level tasks that men were not asked to do, such as note-taking. Some examples cited by the women surveyed include lunch outings at Hooters or a strip club and men gathering to drink and shave their heads late at night in a bonding ritual.
Many of those women surveyed said that they have changed how they act in the workplace because of the sexist culture. Many reported speaking less about their family in the hopes of being taken more seriously. Over half the women surveyed shortened their maternity leave because of its impact on their career. Many chose to stay quiet about the sexism or sexual harassment because it was upsetting to think about.
Some of those women surveyed who experienced sexual harassment regret not filing a complaint. In many cases, they thought it would harm their careers to speak out. Saying nothing means the environment will not change, and other women may be victims of sexual harassment. Also, if you are fired later and then choose to make a complaint, the fact that you failed to complain earlier puts your story into doubt.
Sexual discrimination and harassment are illegal in the workplace under both state and federal law. Victims can receive compensation, including for lost wages and benefits and emotional damages. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that women who are harassed should speak out and consider taking legal action, depending on the circumstances. Call the Oakland sexual harassment and discrimination attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. Our attorneys will be happy to speak with you about your case. We work with clients throughout the Oakland and San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose, Fairfield, Tracy, Berkeley, Sacramento, and the surrounding cities. Call today to schedule a free consultation. If we choose to take your case, you pay us nothing unless we obtain a recovery for you.