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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Sexual harassment an ongoing problem in tech world

Although technology companies that are so popular in California have a reputation for having pro-employee and progressive workplaces, they may not be living up to that reputation when it comes to gender discrimination and sexual harassment. It has long been thought, for instance, that women are grossly underrepresented in the big technology and software engineering firms located in Silicon Valley and in other quarters of this state. It also seems that, perhaps because of this underrepresentation, a lot of women who work in the tech industry also experience sexual harassment.

For instance, about one in three women in these positions either have personally been the victims of sexual harassment or have witnessed an instance of sexual harassment while they were at work and within the previous 12 months. Extend that window of time to five years, and over half of the women asked said that they have either witnessed or experienced sexual harassment.

Some say that the problem is the industry is too focused on attracting women to the detriment of doing what it takes to keep women in the industry. They say that more women are needed in leadership roles in the technology companies, and there needs to be a focus on changing the cultures of these companies. This may involve, for instance, a company's doing more than the bare minimum when it comes to complying with federal and state laws prohibiting sexual harassment. Additional training, beyond just a webinar every year or two, is also important.

California women who work in the technology industry and who have experienced sexual harassment have every right to demand better from an industry that, at least in the popular imagination, prides itself on progress. They may have the option to do so through a legal claim for compensation.

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