Female Tech Leaders Call Out Silicon Valley Sexism at Meeting with Congressman Ro Khanna

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At a meeting with Bay Area Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), female tech leaders described a culture of sexism in Silicon Valley.

SiliconValley.com reports that Khanna met with a number of female tech leaders at Santa Clara University to discuss an alleged culture of sexism in Silicon Valley. One prominent figure at the meeting was Danielle Brown, Google’s head of diversity, who stated “The coarsening of our national discourse, and a lot of it has started in our political arena, we’ve seen that play out in our workplaces, too.” Brown continued, “This environment of misogyny or racism or bigotry or harassment, or just the incivility that we see, we definitely have seen a corresponding rise in incivility here in our own community and in our own companies. That tone from the top really does matter.”

The event was reportedly attended by 100 people and lasted for four hours, during which many of the issues affecting women in Silicon Valley were discussed. Laura Gomez, founder and CEO of San Mateo hiring-tech firm Atipica and a former employee of both Google and Twitter said: “I’ve had venture capitalists six weeks ago tell me women don’t build products or companies — we build features.” She continued, “There’s not only a harassment component to it, there’s always microaggressions and blatant sexism as we pitch to these all-male panels and partners.” Danielle Brown also stated that despite Google’s alleged commitment to diversity, she felt excluded at the company “virtually every day.”

“We have serious issues to work out in our workforce, in terms of who’s included, who gets the power, who gets decisional authority, who gets paid fairly for the work that they do, who has a safe and inclusive workplace,” Brown stated. Parisa Naseralavi, a senior director at Cisco, called on tech firms to “almost over-correct” the issue of lack of diversity amongst those applying for positions at tech firms. “It might seem unfair a little bit at the beginning where we’re like, ‘Hmmm, why are we going into the engineering department and only speaking to the women engineers?’” Naseralavi said. “Because we don’t bloody have enough women engineers. That’s why.”


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