Silicon Valley, which is home to high-tech giants including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, has a serious issue with gender discrimination. It seems nonsensical that in an industry on the cutting edge of society, women would be discriminated against in the workplace. However, statistics show that women in Silicon Valley make less money than their colleagues, and are also under-represented in the workplace.
In 2013 in the U.S., on average women were only paid 78 percent of what men were paid, among full-time, year-round workers. In California, women were paid only 84 percent of what men earned. These statistics are troubling, and are not any better in the high-tech industry.
According to many, the doors to the high-tech field remain closed to women. Women are vastly underrepresented at tech companies. The workforces of Google, Apple and Twitter are each 70 percent male. Facebook is 69 percent male. Microsoft is 71 percent male. When looking at women in leadership positions, the numbers are even worse. At Google and Twitter, only 21 percent of leadership positions are filled by women. Nearly half of all publicly traded information technology businesses have no women on their boards.
When a woman does get hired in a high-tech company, it’s not uncommon for her to leave because of the organization’s culture. Fortune magazine recently published an article that looked at 716 women who left jobs in the high-tech industry, and found that the main reason they left had to do with the sexist culture in the workplace. On average, the women in the article only stayed in the high-tech industry for seven years.
The issues that cause many of the women to leave high-tech jobs often involve motherhood. Many high-tech companies have poor maternity leave policies. They often require their employees to respond to work requests around the clock while on maternity leave. Once women return from maternity leave, many high-tech companies have very inflexible work arrangements and are unsupportive towards motherhood.
Even women who aren’t mothers often have problems with the culture at high-tech companies. Discrimination based on age, race, or gender is not uncommon. Many women in the industry report that they are marginalized by male peers, and that the atmospheres in the offices are toxic to women, as well as minorities. A hazing, fraternity-like workplace is a common complaint from former tech workers.
The good news is that it’s likely the tech industry will have a makeover in the coming years. In prior years, many more men than women pursued degrees in technology fields. Currently, high school boys and girls are participating equally in science, technology, engineering and math electives. Elite colleges are reporting that about half of their introductory computer science students are women.
Discrimination based on sex is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964. If a company discriminates against a woman in any aspect of employment based on sex, including pay, benefits, hiring, firing, or promotions, that company can be sued for sex discrimination. If a company’s employees harass female employees, which creates a hostile work environment, the company can also be liable for sexual discrimination.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that sexual discrimination in the workplace should not be tolerated. If you have been the victim of sexual discrimination or harassment at work, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland pregnancy discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area, including Hayward, San Jose, Fairfield, Tracy, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call us today to schedule a free consultation on your workplace discrimination case.