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Silicon Valley tech companies: Men behaving badly

About 60 percent of senior-level women working in tech say they've been sexually harassed, a new survey reveals.

The technology industry has a bad reputation when it comes to its treatment of women. Now a survey of more than 200 women "of power and influence," primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, shows that rep is well deserved.

According to the "Elephant in the Valley," 60 percent of the survey's respondents said they'd received unwanted sexual advances, 65 percent said those advances came from a superior, and one of three women said they were in fear of their personal safety. All of the women surveyed have at least 10 years of experience working in Silicon Valley tech companies; a quarter of them hold C-level jobs.

The tech industry, by its own reporting, is overwhelmingly male, with women filling about 15 percent of tech jobs on average. That lack of diversity has become a major point of discussion, prompted in part by the failed gender discrimination lawsuit Ellen Pao filed in 2012 against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.


Ellen Pao's failed $16 million lawsuit against former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, inspired the survey of more than 200 women of "power and influence," according to its authors.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters/Corbis

"The inspiration for this survey came out of the incredible conversation from the Ellen Pao & KPCB trial," the authors wrote on the study's website. "What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace. In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories."

The report's co-authors include former entrepreneurs and tech investors, including Trae Vassallo, who testified during Pao's trial that she had received unwanted advances from the same Kleiner Perkins partner who had harassed Pao.

Other findings include: 66 percent of those surveyed said they felt excluded from important social networking opportunities because they are women, 90 percent said they've witnessed sexist behavior at company offsites or industry conferences, and 87 percent said male colleagues have made demeaning comments to them.