Most powerful women in tech have been sexually harassed, former Ellen Pao colleague finds

60% of senior women in the tech industry say they’ve experienced unwanted sexual advances at work, according to a new survey.

The survey, which focused on 220 women who held positions of power at a variety of tech companies, includes other revelations that paint a damning portrait of how women are treated in the industry—and the prevalence of sexual harassment in the supposedly enlightened precincts of Silicon Valley.

Among those who were allegedly sexually harassed, 65% say the sexual advances came from their superior.

Those who reported harassment were overwhelmingly unsatisfied with how their companies handled the situation. And many women chose not to report sexual harassment at all—30% said they did nothing because they just wanted to forget what had happened to them, and 39% said that they chose to stay silent because they didn’t want to negatively impact their careers.

The study was co-led by Trae Vassallo, a former partner at Kleiner Perkins, who grabbed headlines as a star witness in Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination case against the venture capital firm. Vassallo alleged that she also received unwanted sexual advances from Ajit Nazre, who Pao claims retaliated against her after she ended a relationship with him.

Though Pao ultimately lost her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins, many say the lawsuit blew open the lid on how women are treated in Silicon Valley.

“The surprising thing for me was that in talking about it, I had an overwhelming number of women come back to me and say, ‘Thanks for talking about it. By the way, here’s what I lived through,'” Vassallo told Re/code’s Kara Swisher.

Beyond sexual harassment, the results portray a culture of gender bias against women in the industry.

84% of women said they were told that they were too aggressive, while half of respondents said they were told they were too quiet.

Other results showed that 88% of women said clients addressed questions to male colleagues that should have been addressed to them, 75% of women were asked about their marital status or children during job interviews, 66% say that they’ve felt excluded from networking opportunities because of their genders, and 50% of mothers surveyed took a shorter maternity leave because they didn’t want to get behind in their career.


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