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Sexism in Silicon Valley

Sexism in Silicon Valley
From Al Jazeera - August 12, 2017

This week, James Damore, a male software engineer at Google wrote a 10-page "manifesto" criticising his employer for pushing diversity programmes. Damore said women ca not get ahead in the tech industry because of biological differences with men. The memo went public and created a social media storm.

While Damore was fired, a huge online debate continues about gender stereotyping and free speech in the workplace. It's highlighting the low numbers of women and minorities in technology companies while exposing attitudes encountered by women working in tech.

The latest scandal comes just months after ride-sharing giant Uber faced accusations of a toxic, sexist work culture.

The entire industry is struggling to explain why women are underrepresented in key engineering ranks and are often underpaid compared with their male peers.

"This episode with Google shows there are still many issues around sexism in the workplace and it's been a wake-up call for those of us who are involved in technology to ensure that we are all creating working environments where this sort of behaviour is unacceptable," explains Priya Guha, general manager of RocketSpace.

"If you look at technology as a sector, we need people from all types of diverse backgrounds to be going into technology to in fact build the society we want to see in the future. That's hugely important to the industry," Guha says.

"Women in the tech industry and, in fact, women in many other industries, too, still suffer from a whole range of discrimination in the workplace. Some are more serious, of course, some are more around unconscious-biased ... things like making the tea at meetings or being the person to take a note. Those are still things that happen to women in the workplace."

Guha makes the case that it's not just about looking at discrimination and correcting it, but "we need to think about diversity as bringing value to the company - not just as the right thing to do."

There are several policies that companies can adopt to improve workplace culture, not just for women, according to Guha.

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