Even after #MeToo, women in tech say they're still getting harassed

A study from the Women Who Tech nonprofit found harassment in the tech industry is ongoing, and women don't have much trust in how their employers are handling it.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
2 min read

For women in tech, harassment is a big issue.

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Three years after the #MeToo movement toppled prominent players in the technology, entertainment and other industries over charges of sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace, women in tech are still reporting harassment. 

In fact, 48% of women in tech and 44% of women founders say they've been harassed, according to a report out Tuesday from nonprofit Women Who Tech. What's more, 43% of women in tech who reported harassment said what happened was sexual harassment -- instances like being propositioned for sex, sometimes even in return for a promotion. The same percentage reported the harassment taking place within the last year. 

The report, done in partnership with Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Lincoln Strategies and the RAD Campaign, surveyed more than a thousand women in February and March of 2020.

"The amount of harassment that women in tech and women founders experience is disturbing. We need less ally theater and more people in positions of power to recognize that power, not abuse it, and support women in tech," said Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies in a statement. Newmark is also a member of Women Who Tech's Advisory Board.

The study comes as the tech industry has been under scrutiny for a lack of diversity -- and not only that, but for company cultures serving as breeding grounds of harassment and discrimination. In the last several years, companies like Uber, Google, Facebook and others have taken turns in the spotlight over concerns surrounding the nature of their work environments.  

"How can women founders thrive in a broken system where a startling 44% of women founders experienced harassment?" said Women Who Tech Founder Allyson Kaplan, in a statement. 

Even in the aftermath of #MeToo, when issues of accountability within companies became part of a large-scale public discussion, 67% of women surveyed said they do not have much trust in how their companies would handle allegations of harassment. Fewer women are reporting harassment as compared with 2017, the report also found. 

There's also a disparity in the way men and women perceive the impact of #MeToo. Sixty-nine percent of white male founders feel there's been a positive impact since #MeToo. Thirty-four percent of white women founders agree. The number falls once again to 24% for women of color. 

The data shows women of color are taking the brunt of this behavior. Forty-six percent of founders who are women of color said they'd been harassed by a potential investor, as compared with 36% of white women.

This isn't the only report to shed light on womens' experience in the industry. In 2019, a study from tech education organization Girls Who Code found that even at the intern level, women are facing everything from inappropriate comments on their bodies to propositions to date during the interview process. 

Watch this: How Black Girls Code is driving change in the tech industry