The truth about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley

Ellen Pao
In the New York Times, Katie Bienner relates a cultural shift in Silicon Valley: women victims of sexual harassment describing their experiences frankly. In an industry bound by delusions of meritocracy and egality, simply talking about it is radical.

More than two dozen women in the technology start-up industry spoke to The Times in recent days about being sexually harassed. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails, and pointed to high-profile venture capitalists such as Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups, who did not dispute the accounts.

The disclosures came after the tech news site The Information reported that female entrepreneurs had been preyed upon by a venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital. The new accounts underscore how sexual harassment in the tech start-up ecosystem goes beyond one firm and is pervasive and ingrained. Now their speaking out suggests a cultural shift in Silicon Valley, where such predatory behavior had often been murmured about but rarely exposed.

From the reports, Ellen Pao striking out in the courts only underscored the impunity enjoyed by these men.

Lindsay Meyer, an entrepreneur in San Francisco, said Mr. Caldbeck put $25,000 of his own money into her fitness start-up in 2015. That gave Mr. Caldbeck reason to constantly text her; in those messages, reviewed by The Times, he asked if she was attracted to him and why she would rather be with her boyfriend than him. At times, he groped and kissed her, she said.

“I felt like I had to tolerate it because this is the cost of being a nonwhite female founder,” said Ms. Meyer, who is Asian-American.

The named names have scuttled off Twitter to go on social media vacations. If they don't face real consequences—permanent professional separation from the wealth they control—it'll just go back to the way it was.

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