Men May be Ruling the World
but it doesn’t mean they’re doing a good job at it.
Ever since Susan Fowler came out to talk about her experiences with sexual harassment at Uber, more and more women have gained the courage to come out and speak.
Recently, the NYTimes posted an exposé on sexual harassment that stems not from the company itself, but from the investors at well-known venture capital firms. As more and more men are receiving more funding than women in VC firms, sexual harassment towards women has become the stigma.
How many women have to speak out until we break the stigma? As Sheryl Sandberg has stated, “Men run the world.” I hate to say she’s absolutely right. While men are running the world, more women are experiencing sexual harassment.
Female founders are becoming subjected to sexist comments once venture capitalists invest in their ideas — they think they have the right to do so.
In “Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment,” one woman named Sarah Kunst received a message from the founder of 500 Startups saying, “I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you.”
Another women named Lisa Curtis was pitching her startup idea at a competition when after, an investor named Jose De Dios told her, “Of course you won. You’re a total babe.”
The biggest complaint in the article was against Justin Caldbeck at Binary Capital, whom six women accused of perpetrating sexual harassment. Because of this outbreak, the VC firm has eradicated its future investing efforts.
Now, the lengthy question brought up is “Is this a true turning point to the industry? Is it possible women may feel more empowered now to speak out against bad actors?
Or do you think things will go back to gross business as usual in Silicon Valley after this news cycle passes?” The short answer is only time will tell. However, I’m going to share my 2 cents on the long one.
Uber and Binary Capital are both losing executives over sexual harassment. Although both of these companies have accomplished great strides in the tech industry, top executives in both companies failed to discourage harassment.
The problem is not only the company culture that does not discourage bad behavior, but also the fact that these companies only decided to do something when it started to affect recruiting and investments.
As Kevin Roose from the NYTimes put it, “Show me a tech company that goes public with its bad behavior totally unprompted, with no reporters asking and no damning exposés about to hit, and I’ll consider the possibility that maybe this isn’t all about money.”
Frankly, when investors decide to do something about sexual harassment, it usually means that company actions have already been scrutinized by the public eye.
As of right now, we only know about sexual harassment in the companies that have been mentioned in blog posts and exposés. What about the others that are yet to be affected?
Do we really think that a highly successful tech company or VC firm will come out and share their behavior without a reporter shining the spotlight on them?
With courageous women like Rachel Renock, Claire Humphreys, Kristen Ablamsky, Ellen Pao, Susan Wu, and many more sharing their experiences with sexual harassment, we can only hope that companies will start to see the light and join the movement for change, not for personal gain.
As a woman in the technology field, I only hope that more and more women have the courage to break the stigma.
The only way to end this is to do exactly what these women are doing: empower others to speak out. It is up to us to make a difference. Men may be ruling the world, but it doesn’t mean they’re doing a good job at it.
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The tech industry has long suffered a gender imbalance, with companies such as Google and Facebook acknowledging how few…www.nytimes.com