For decades, women working in California’s tech industry region Silicon Valley have suffered sexual harassment and gender discrimination, with little done to solve the problem. Now, in a dramatic couple of weeks, attitudes toward harassment in this male-dominated field seem to be suddenly changing.
First came a report in tech news site The Information about Justin Caldbeck, a venture capitalist with Binary Capital. In that story, female entrepreneurs told of Caldbeck’s inappropriate behavior toward them. The story cost Caldbeck his job and appears to be leading to the downfall of Binary, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Shortly after The Information story appeared, The New York Times reported conversations with more than two dozen women who work in Silicon Valley about their experiences with sexual harassment and discrimination.
‘Whether to hire you or hit on you’
For example, one entrepreneur said she went for a job interview with San Francisco-based 500 Startups in 2014. During the recruitment process, one of the company’s founders and investors sent her a Facebook message that said, “I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you.” The woman says 500 Startups stopped trying to recruit her after she shared the message with another executive there.
500 Startups admitted that the accused founder is still part of the company, but said he is no longer in charge of day-to-day operations and “has been going through counseling.” The company added that it has “been making changes internally” to change its culture.
You can read more of the allegations in The Times story here.
Is sexual harassment no longer acceptable in Silicon Valley?
Though this sort of behavior toward women in tech has long been a problem in Silicon Valley, it is possible that these women bravely sharing their stories with the public will finally lead to a sea change in the sexual and racial politics of California’s tech sector.