Women in Technology: When Will the Discrimination End?

It’s no secret that the tech industry is dominated by a “bro” culture that leaves almost no room for women. Google published a “diversity” report last May, determining that its workforce is 70% men. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! have published similar reports, and share the same disparity in the ratio of men to women.

Ellen Pao, Chief executive of Reddit

Ellen Pao, Chief executive of Reddit

There is even an insider joke among Silicon Valley companies called the “Dave” rule. This rule says there needs to be the same number of women as there are men named “Dave” in the office in order to have “gender balance.” This doesn’t quite seem like the most accurate system. In general, less women are hired, offered promotions, or receive the same pay as men in the industry.

On average, women make about 99.7% of what men do. For example, a female software engineer at Facebook makes $117,391 per year, while a male in the same position makes $128,575. More importantly, however, women are constantly being subjected to sexual harassment. Due to the frat-like environment, men can fall into viewing women as sexual objects rather than professional coworkers. Sexual harassment lawsuits are rampant among the tech industry, and it’s deterring smart and capable women from pursuing a career in this field.

Chief executive of Reddit, Ellen Pao, is suing her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers for several grievances, including: ignoring the sexual harassment she received from male managers when she worked for them, punishing and eventually firing her for complaining, and excluding her and fellow women employees from meetings and promotions. Pao is asking for $16 million in damages for lost wages and other compensation, including to punitive damages. This lawsuit could have a huge impact on the tech industry, and it might force sexual harassment and discrimination to dwindle in these companies. The trial is expected to last four weeks.

In another sexual harassment lawsuit, Whitney Wolfe, who was vice-president of marketing for Tinder, has said Justin Mateen, chief marketing officer, called her a “whore”; her complaints to the CEO were completely ignored. These are just a few examples of the rampant sexual harassment that takes place in tech companies.

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