According to WIRED UK, “Despite the tech industry having a strongly male reputation, the world’s first programmer was a woman.
In 1843, Ada Lovelace developed the first theoretical software algorithm, a century before the development of the modern computer. Her vision of an “analytical engine” that could “[weave] algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves”, imagined a device that could create more than mathematical calculations; one that could give life to art and music. Lovelace’s vision should embody the lifeblood of Silicon Valley; that of invention, and pushing the boundaries of possibility. But her legacy jars with the image of the modern programmer – one that is distinctly and, arguably, dangerously gendered.
There’s a concerning rise in the number of women accusing tech companies of having apathetic stances on inequality and harassment. Within the past few months, Google has been accused of having “systematic compensation disparities” between men and women in the company; Susan Fowler Rigetti published a 2,800-word blog post containing allegations against Uber, leading to two investigations, 20 dismissals and the resignation of Uber executive Amit Singhal over previous sexual harassment allegations.
More recently, studies claimed to have exposed a gender bias at Facebook which suggests code submitted by female engineers is accepted less than code written by their male counterparts, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal based on analysis from a former employee. In particular, this showed that code written by female engineers was less likely to make it through Facebook’s internal peer review system, suggesting it’s more heavily scrutinized.
A written 10-Page viral manifesto from Google’s ex-engineer circled around the world explains the reasons (unfounded by research) why there are few women working in Silicon Valley. We’ve studied gender and STEM for 25 years. The science doesn’t support the Google memo published by Recode and Women In Tech Network Linkedin article.
MIDA Women In Tech Network is outraged by the number of women who have been sexually harassed, discriminated against based on gender in our tech community. We applaud media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN Money, Forbes, Fortune, Tech Crunch, Axios, The Information, Pando, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Bloomberg News, The Guardian, and many others who have published these stories and created a platform for women to feel supported. This type of behavior is not okay in any shape or form. Brave women stories through the full support of Media, swift impact is made. At MIDA Women in Tech Network we aim to change the status quo, providing a secure and comfortable work environment for everyone.
According to the media, “inappropriate behavior, the discussion on social media has in part focused on finding a solution to address this perennial problem.” In addition, MIDA Women In Tech Network offers a variety of measures to help fix Silicon Valley’s cultural problems to increase diversity and educate employees about unconscious biases that may cause executives to overlook even subtle sexism.
The Tide Is Turning and The Floodgates of Silicon Valley have opened with women sharing their stories
Sexism in Silicon Valley may be coming in for a reckoning, prompted by women coming forward with stories of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors. Tech industry faces new pressure to change its exploitative ways amid shakeups at Uber and venture funds Binary Capital and 500 Startups and many more.
No matter your party affiliation, Million Women’s March showed that we can come together. Media and brave women telling their stories have created impact on our tech industry. Starting with women in tech, women entrepreneurs, together with media and other prominent figures women and men in Silicon Valley and beyond, we are starting to make an impact. Now it’s our turn, we need each and everyone of you to make this impact sustainable.
Sexism in tech impacts women everywhere.
- Silicon Valley deep seeded belief and Google’s engineer 10 Page Viral manifesto & Google’s YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki on gender discrimination: It still hurts “…..my experience in the tech industry has shown me just how pervasive….”
“Time and again, I’ve faced the slights that come with that question. I’ve had my abilities and commitment to my job questioned. I’ve been left out of key industry events and social gatherings. I’ve had meetings with external leaders where they primarily addressed the more junior male colleagues. I’ve had my comments frequently interrupted and my ideas ignored until they were rephrased by men. No matter how often this all happened, it still hurt.
So when I saw the memo that circulated last week, I once again felt that pain, and empathized with the pain it must have caused others. I thought about the women at Google who are now facing a very public discussion about their abilities, sparked by one of their own co-workers. I thought about the women throughout the tech field who are already dealing with the implicit biases that haunt our industry, now confronting them explicitly. I thought about how the gender gap persists in tech despite declining in other STEM fields, how hard we’ve been working as an industry to reverse that trend, and how this was yet another discouraging signal to young women who aspire to study computer science. And as my child asked me the question I’d long sought to overcome in my own life, I thought about how tragic it was that this unfounded bias was now being exposed to a new generation.”
- Linkedin Co-Founder, Reid Hoffman’s article, The Basic Human Rights of Women [Entrepreneurs] “Here’s why writing quickly is important: YES, MANY OF US DO CARE. This is entirely immoral and outrageous behavior. And it falls to us to stand with you, to speak out, and to act.
So, again, why the lack of outrage and commentary? On the charitable interpretation, people are fearful of stepping into a he-said/she-said dispute where they have no information. Here, of course, it’s a he-said/they-said situation – which brings a very high standard of evidence to the table.
Other folks may think: well, that’s bad behavior but not my problem. If you think that, and work here in venture, think again. We all need to solve this problem. If you stay silent, if you don’t act, then you allow this problem to perpetuate. And you send the public signal, “we don’t care.”
This year, Silicon Valley technology companies have been receiving some very good criticism on fairness and decency on gender. The criticism ranges from employment and compensation to cultures that harbor sexual predators, necessitating outside intervention such as Eric Holder’s investigation at Uber.
This criticism is important. I welcome it. We should all welcome it, and of course, remedy it. One unfortunate side effect is that people think that many Silicon Valley technology companies have gender-hostile environments.
- “Investors Who Back VC Funds Are Worried About Valley Culture” states “If your partner harassed women but you still tell LPs that they should support his new fund, then you’re Silicon Valley’s version of Catholic Church officials who moved around pedophile priests.” ” Change is coming.” states Axios
According to Elephant in the Valley, a survey conducted by Stanford University:
- 1 in 3 women [in tech feel] afraid for their personal safety due to repeated sexual harassment”
- The survey found that 87 per cent of women in Silicon Valley felt subject to “demeaning comments from male colleagues”
- 60% Of Women In Silicon Valley Have Been Sexually Harassed. Of those women, 60 percent then said they were “dissatisfied” with the course of action the company took, following their report.
“Attitudes towards gender within the industry are not conducive to encouraging a democratised field” according to WIRED Magazine.
The good news is that we are now at the tipping point where brave women are making a difference in start-ups and venture funds steeped in a college fraternity-like culture by telling their stories and highlighting unacceptable behavior.
- Tenacious reporters who revealed Uber’s and other tech companies’ toxic culture through CNN Videos
- Like former engineer at Uber, Susan J. Fowler was able to document her experience and bring light to the issues at Uber. Uber is going through multiple internal investigations after a blog post revealed toxic workplace culture issues.
- Julie Ann Horvath was able to make a difference at Github
- Tannen Campbell, Magic Leap’s former vice president of strategic marketing and brand identity, filed the suit in a federal court in the Southern District of Florida, which alleges the secretive company had a hostile work environment for women, and that leaders actively obstructed attempts to solve the problem. In particular, the complaint alleges that executives, including CEO Rony Abovitz, were fully aware that discrimination was rife. Magic Leap said it does not comment on active legal issues.
- UploadVR is being sued by the company’s former Director of Digital and Social Media, Elizabeth Scott for sexual harassment, sex and gender discrimination and wrongful termination. Scott claims that UploadVR had “purposefully and expressly created a ‘boy’s club’ environment”, with commonplace behavior including “degrading” behavior towards female employees and even a “room to encourage sexual intercourse at the workplace”.
- AJ Vandermeyden, a female engineer took on Tesla for discrimination. Now others are speaking up. ‘It’s too big to deny’. NOTE: Vandermeyden sued Tesla for sexual harassment was fired.
- Kristina Bergman made an unusual decision when she founded Integris Software in early 2016: she included an anti-sexual harassment clause firmly in her company’s voting agreement with investors
- Katrina Lake, CEO Stitch Fix, complained to Caldbeck’s then-employer, Lightspeed Venture Partners
- BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan, was just hit with a sexual harassment and assault suit by Beatrice Kim, a former BetterWorks employee
- Google and Oracle are both fighting off federal allegations of gender pay gaps
Women In Tech and Women Entrepreneurs, now it’s your turn encourage one another to reveal your personal harrowing tales of sexual harassment and/or gender discrimination at MIDA Women In Tech Network and tell your story.
It’s Time! Together, we are stronger. Together, our voices means change. Together, we can push this past the Tipping Point that has already occurred with Media featuring brave women, male champions as well as women champions and truly Change The Ratio.
Some examples of the IMPACT that has been made by brave women and tenacious reporters:
- Ousted Tinder Cofounder Settled Her Sexual Harassment
- Michael Goguen leaves Sequoia Capital following explosive lawsuit
- Larry Ellison quietly steps down as CEO of Oracle
- Salesforce enforce Equal Pay
- Investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, began in February after an ex-Uber engineer published a blog post in which she said she had repeatedly complained about sexual harassment and discrimination at the ride-hailing company. Holder outlined his recommendations in Uber a 13-page report under four overarching themes: tone at the top, trust, transformation, and accountability.
- A separate investigation by the New York Times found Uber employees were at times subject to such abuses as “homophobic slurs”, “[groping]” or even on occasion threatened to be physically beaten with baseball bats. Until such claims were brought to light, this culture was “only whispered about in Silicon Valley.”
- Amit Singhal, former SVP of engineering and advisor to Travis Kalanick resigned
- TPG co-founder David Bonderman: Uber exit after sexist quip
- Uber CEO resigned & Uber fired/resigned: 20+ executives and employees
- Uber boosts salaries, guarantees pay equity across race, sexes
- Katrina Lake, CEO Stitch Fix, complained to Caldbeck’s then-employer, Lightspeed Venture Partners. The venture firm then removed Caldbeck from his role as a Board of Director.
- Frank Artale, resigned as managing director of Seattle venture capital firm Ignition Partners
- Co-Founder of Binary Capital resigned
- Co-Founder of 500 Startups have resigned
- Github suspends founder over gender harassment claims
- John Doerr book delayed after co-author accused of sexual harassment Penguin Publishing yesterday said that it will indefinitely delay publication of a new management strategies book from venture capitalist John Doerr. The trouble is that Doerr’s co-author, BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan, was just hit with a sexual harassment and assault suit by Beatrice Kim, a former BetterWorks employee.
- Kris Duggan resign as CEO of HR startup BetterWorks
- Reid Hoffman and many prominent men are speaking up as well as creating No Tolerance Policies
- No Tolerance Policy promoted and enforced by VC Firms and Associations
- Reid Hoffman leads by example. Greycroft Venture COO resigned
- Report reveals gender pay gap at BBC: BBC women ‘furious but not surprised’ by gender pay gap and Demand Action to Close Pay Gap With Men
- Google’s ex-engineer James Damore who wrote the 10-page viral manifesto was fired after blaming biology for tech’s gender gap (We’ve studied gender and STEM for 25 years. The science doesn’t support the Google memo published by Recode)
- YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s Response to the Controversial Google Anti-Diversity Memo
- Travis Kalanick reportedly sought to reassert control at Uber after ouster
- Uber Loses Key Executive
- Benchmark Capital Sues Uber Ex-CEO Travis Kalanick to get off board Kalanick has been actively thwarting the company’s search for his replacement. Lawsuit states: fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. The complaint was filed earlier today in Delaware Chancery Court. (According to Axios, Why it matters: It was shocking enough for a major venture capital firm to sue the CEO of a highly-valuable portfolio company. For other VC firms to then make this sort of counter-move against a peer is similarly unprecedented. It’s a brave new world in Silicon Valley.
- California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson introduces measure to crack down on sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. The Bill explicitly prohibit sexual harassment by venture capitalists as an amendment to a current civil-rights law.
- The bill, SB 224, comes in response to accounts from female tech entrepreneurs who have described being sexually harassed while seeking funding from venture capitalists
- The bill would amend the Unruh Act, a civil-rights law in California that protects against sexual harassment in business relationships. The law lists doctors, landlords, teachers, and others as liable for sexual harassment. The bill would amend the law to clarify that consequences exist for investors too and provide protections for entrepreneurs who are harassed.
- SoFi CEO resigns
- Susan Fowler Ex-Uber Engineer Asks Supreme Court to Learn From Her Ordeal
- EY Commits to spend $100 Million with women-owned businesses around the world by 2020. EY is determined to continue doing our part to accelerate gender parity and hoping that similar initiatives can increasingly inspire concrete actions to empower women.
- Bank Behind Fearless Girl Statue Settles Gender Pay Dispute
Together we are galvanizing Media, VCs and Board of Directors of Tech Companies to assist us in making a difference in ensuring Silicon Valley’s Old Boy Power Structure toppled so that harrowing tales of sexual harassment and/or gender discrimination, and expose various type unprofessional behavior and unconscious bias toward women. Both women and men champions will no longer tolerate or turn a blind eye. The sentiment of champions is found an article by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, “The human rights of women (entrepreneurs)”.
Beyond Sexual Harassment and not just in Silicon Valley:
- Los Angeles
- Washington D C
- In China, many job ads specify that Workers Wanted: Women Need Not Apply
- Women in tech faces beyond sexual harassment at work – Sexism, racism and bullying are driving people out of tech, US study finds
Tell us what is going on in your tech company so that we can assist you in your tech career.
Chair, CEO & Co-Founder
MIDA Digital Girlz | MIDA Women In Tech Network supported by C Level Executives of Fortune 10 to Fortune 500 (Women/Men 50/50) Champions