Despite the abundance of tech jobs and opportunities in Silicon Valley, there are still very few women in tech due to unconscious bias and sexism in the industry. Of the 220 professional women in tech who responded to the 2016 survey “Elephant in the Valley,” 60% of them had experienced unwanted sexual advances, and 87% had been subjected to demeaning comments from colleagues. Other recent events—from Susan Fowler’s blog post about sexual harassment at Uber to James Damore’s anti-diversity essay— similarly reflect the need for companies to address sexism, especially during the startup and growth phases.
“Small startups are typically launched by a few men who hire their friends, so it’s very easy for the first 100 people to be mainly white guys,” explained Telle Whitney, CEO and President of AnitaB.org. “They don’t have any advice about basic best practices for their employees. That’s what you’re seeing with Uber. It grew really fast and they didn’t pay attention to some of their infrastructure, like HR.”