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The Rampant Sexual Harassment in Silicon Valley

This past week, Uber’s Senior Vice President of engineering Amit Singhal was asked to resign after allegations of sexual harassment at his previous job at Google surfaced. His resignation comes on the heels of multiple viral accounts by women this past month detailing the rampant sexual harassment in the tech industry.

Forty percent of women with a degree in tech drop out or never enter the field at all. This statistic could probably entirely be explained by the frequency with which sexual assault and harassment is covered up and excused by this boys club. According to The Guardian yesterday, “hundreds if not thousands [emphasis added] of women and people of color in tech come forward each year with complaints of toxic work environments largely controlled by white men.” The report is backed up by a recent survey: 60% of women in Silicon Valley experience sexual harassment—and 60% were unsatisfied with the resolution offered to them by their company.

This harassment looks similar in many of the cases. Gaslighting is common. Women are consistently told there must have been a “misunderstanding,” as in the case of Hannah Levy, the head of content at Amino, or with Haana, whose perpetrator suggested she must have “‘misinterpreted’ a ‘hug’.”  Women are coerced through threat to their careers and reputations. Multiple women, such as Sysamone Phaphon, founder and CEO at Groupeezz, reported frequently hearing things such as, “‘I can help you if you are open to more than a working relationship.’”

The fact that perpetrators often continue to succeed and thrive despite documented allegations against them is, unfortunately, not news to many of us. What is shocking however, is the degree to which this has been happening, and how little attention it’s gotten. With a culture set up “more like a fraternity than it is a workplace” women are often ignored, berated, and shamed into silence. And like many fraternities, the men in this tech driven boys club don’t seem to feel they need to be accountable for their actions, nor do they seem to feel the need to keep them hidden.

Unfortunately for many of these men, they work in a tech industry where technology forces them to be held accountable. As is the case with Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO who was recently caught on tape verbally assaulting one of his drivers of color, the very carelessness through which their disrespect flourishes might be (finally) catching up to them. Let’s hope it helps take them down.

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