Did you know, that the average tech company`s board of directors is 11 per cent female? This number is decreasing over time.Lately we have heard so much about discrimination in the companies, that have built almost impeccable image on the market. The victims tell the stories, that question the corporate reputation of employers from SIlicon Valley. Many digital journals and blogs report the situations of discrimination, harassment and even sexual abuse of women, working in tech sphere.

Myth or reality?

According to Behind the Pay Gap study, conducted by AAUW (American Association of University Women), women earn approximately 20% less than men do within a year after graduation. Moreover, in 10 years the gap reaches 31%. Work schedule, job position, motherhood are among the causes of the size of the salary. However, researchers could not explain the reason for the other 25% of cases disparity between wages paid. Researchers say, that the most likely reason for the existing gender pay gap is gender-based discrimination and sexism. For example, if a young woman has children, employers tend to assume she works worse, than the others. As a result, mothers are rarely get higher positions and move up the career ladder. Besides, some employers do not provide overtime pay to female employers.

AAUW also examined the correlation between academic achievements and wage size. On average, female`s academic score is higher that male`s even in maths and science. Nevertheless, men, who were the students of the ordinary college earn as much as women, who got their education in professional college.



Lately we have heard so much about discrimination in the companies, that have built almost impeccable image on the market. The victims tell the stories, that question the corporate reputation of employers from SIlicon Valley. Many digital journals and blogs report the situations of discrimination, harassment and even sexual abuse of women, working in Tech sphere. So, we have listed various types of discrimination on purpose. It is important to identify particular phenomenon instead of having “one size fits all” approach to corporate relationship, defining whatever one does not like in the workplace as “discrimination”.

The issue of discrimination in tech industry, like in any other industry, is not a new thing. For example, some employees get promoted even if they don’t deserve this as much as others just because they have better relationship with the boss. If that sounds familiar, you may have experienced discrimination. But that have always existed – human factor is something that can`t be excluded, especially, start-up community.

Discrimination in the labour market: money, gender, promotion…

The scientists study the phenomenon of discrimination for more than 40 years. Sociologists identify several types of discrimination, when it comes down to employment and salaries:

Discrimination in hiring or discrimination in recruitment

This happens when, other things being equal, certain groups of people are less likely to get employed and are more likely to be fired in the first place. Unqualified youngsters, students, disabled and former prisoners are the most common categories, that face discrimination in recruitment. Some age groups also have poorer and less opportunities in accessing employment. Discrimination in recruitment may arise towards representatives of certain races and ethnicities or due to religious and political motives.

Wage discrimination and Discrimination in working conditions

Even though one has succeeded to get a job, that doesn’t mean he or she won`t face discrimination. Wage discrimination is when two employees get different salary for exactly the same amount of work. Of course, that`s not about the differences in labour quality and effectiveness. Traditionally discriminated categories are women, migrants, ethnic minority. The situation, when employees, working in different conditions (sanitary, technological, climatic or psychological), get equal salaries is called discrimination in working conditions.

Discrimination in promotion

Discriminated employees work hard to pursue a career, but their employers reluctantly promote them. Again, the “risk groups” here are women, immigrants and national minority. Those, who face discrimination in promotion, hardly ever get responsible or well-paid positions.

Occupational segregation

Occupational segregation takes place when particular groups of population get restricted from certain range of activities, professions and jobs, they can naturally perform. Just look at the modern labour market. In the era of technology and progressive thinking professions are divided by gender: “male” (fireman, driver, engineer)  and “female” (seamstress, maid); by age: professions for “the young” and for “the elderly”; by nationality.

Believe it or not, all these discrimination types are the usual deal even for the most progressive labour markets. For example, wage discrimination is a burning problem for employees in America.


Uber scandal: viral blogpost of Susan Fowler

The latest events, connected with scandalous 2,800-word blog post have drawn public attention to the ethics of the tech industry and sexism in Silicon Valley.

In her blog Susan Fowler Rigetti wrote a post with the reflections on her year at Uber. Susan described incidents of gender-based harassment and discrimination at the company, where she started her career as a site reliability engineer (SRE) in November 2015. Fowler claims, that after several weeks of training at Uber, her male colleague was trying to get her to have sex with him by sending her ambiguous texts. The woman considered this situation as sexual harassment and recoursed to HR. 

HR, for its part, refused to deal with the employee’s inappropriate behaviour, arguing that they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing “high performer” for just an innocent mistake on his part. Some of women engineers, who also worked for Uber, confirmed that they had the same “inappropriate interactions” experience. However, managers ignored their reports. After some time, the offender left the company, but Susan Fowler claims it wasn’t because HR finally decided to take action.

Here`s the question: what do the leather jackets have to do with discrimination? Susan claims – the fact that only male employees received promised leather jackets is an act of discrimination. Initially, the company ordered the jackets for everyone, including six women. However, they couldn’t get a good discount on women’s jackets, while male pieces got a significant discount. To tell the story short – six jackets turned out to be more expensive, so the organisation decided to purchase only male ones.

And, finally, a former Uber engineer blames the company for discrimination in promotion. Though she had “perfect performance score” and managers, who wanted Fowler on her team, she was denied a transfer to “less chaotic engineering organizations”.


Sexism at Tesla: the only woman “among 40 to 50 men”

AJ Vandermeyden, former female engineer at Tesla, аccused the employer of having a culture of “pervasive harassment” and prejudiced treatment to women. Vandermeyden claims – the environment for female workers is unfriendly. She supports her statements with the following facts. Firstly, female engineers in Tesla are paid less than male engineers. Secondly, all chief executive positions belong to men (28 out of 30 vice-presidents are men).

Vandermeyden says, that her relationship with colleagues were unwelcome. She also underlines inappropriate behaviour of male workers, who whistled, used strong language and “cat calls”. These acts are regarded as “discriminatory”. Former engineer believes: these didn`t “happen without somebody (read – HR) noticing”.


Squarespace: prejudice and misogyny at the workplace

One more organisation, that presumably (in the opinion of several employees) has problems with corporate culture and healthy relationship between two sexes is Squarespace. Amélie Lamont, a former employee of Squarespace, claims that regular hangouts with colleagues is also discrimination of some kind. One had to go to bars with colleagues to fit in. “If you weren’t drinking, you weren’t a part of the culture. That was frustrating”, – says Amélie. Lamont thinks, that another reason for discrimination was her skin color. She described the whole working experience of “young black woman” in article for Medium. According to Amélie`s words, she spoke up to make companies in the tech industry “change their behaviors for the better”.

Though she was promoted, Lamont says that she was a victim of discrimination. The colleagues with less skill, who came after her, were given new projects, while she was left “out of the picture”. Apart from Discrimination in promotion, Amélie Lamont faced racism. She cites the example: “I was sitting right across from her. I looked at her and said, “I’m right here.” She stared at me for a few seconds and remarked, “Oh. I didn’t see you. You blended in. You’re so black, you blend into the chair.” I didn’t believe what I was hearing and I didn’t know what to do. I looked at my arm, compared it to the chair in front of her. “Nope, my arm is brown and the chair is black,” I quipped awkwardly. She replied, “No. They’re the same color.” The room was silent”.


Google and its gender pay discrimination

One month ago The Guardian published an article about possible employment violations at Google. The conflict focused around systemic compensation disparities and discrimination against women, working in the company.

During the investigation, Department of Labor figured out that Google violates federal employment laws and discriminates female employees in the most common positions,offering lower salaries than the male employees receive. However, Google denied the existence of inequality between men and women, arguing that the results of investigation are unrepresentative and they don’ have a problem of gender pay gap.


What is more…

Stories about humiliation, discrimination and sexism in Silicon Valley appear here and there. More and more “victims” and their lawyers speak out. For example, Jennifer Schwartz told The Guardian, that her clients – transgender women in tech regularly faced “shocking and blatant discrimination and impropriety in all forms”, including jokes like, “Have you decided today whether you’re a man or a woman?”

Transgender women, who work in industry ruled by men, are likely to experience discrimination in hiring and are less likely to be promoted. Colleagues also ignore them: exclude from meetings and try to sabotage the working process.

Palantir, data analytics company, was also involved in a scandal over employment practices. According to Department of Labor, the company discriminates against employees from Asia. Oracle, another tech company, was accused of wage discrimination against black, Asian and female employees.

So, is Silicon Valley really prone to discrimination? Judging by the examples, Asians, coloured, transgenders and women are the main discriminated groups. But it`s vital to be conscious of what situations can be called that way and who to blame for that. When your colleague sends you ambiguous texts or jokes on you, put yourself in HR`s shoes: an employee may be a good performer but shitty personality. Is this a company to blame for? The ability to communicate, solve problems and compromise sometimes can be more effective than complaints to HR department.

Initially men were the main candidates for the jobs in tech industry. The fact that women work at most common positions in giant tech companies means that occupational segregation is becoming “past tense”. But any transformation takes time. And sometimes complaint about “discriminating” leather jackets can seem too much…

Сauses of what is happening

Presumably, the first reason why the companies from Silicon Valley permit sexism and discrimination in their corporate culture is the absence of regulation institutions. Many of tech startups don’t have HR departments. That means, that there is no third party that can objectively resolve problems and deal with disputes between employees. In most cases, CEO takes the side of college friends, who are vital for the company, so there has to be someone, who can find justice.

The second reason is inefficiency of the following institutions. And the third one – “connection” with colleagues. If one doesn`t spend much time with other employees, he or she stays out of the game.  Nevertheless, it`s more important for startups rather than big corporations.

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