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Is sexism worse in the tech industry?

The tech industry has a problem with women – even though a lot of high-tech companies promote themselves as beacons of innovation and progress. 

A recent $15 million settlement by Snapchat Inc. over its discriminatory treatment of female employees in California only serves as a reminder that all the verbal commitments companies make to “diversity and inclusion” mean nothing if they don’t practice what they preach. 

The lawsuit was brought by the state’s civil rights agency over allegations that the company allowed blatantly discriminatory practices against women. Female employees say that they were actively discouraged from applying for promotions, saw less-qualified male co-workers promoted above them and suffered blatant retaliation if they spoke up. Snapchat says it only agreed to the settlement, which requires outside oversight of its employment practices and anti-discrimination training of its employees, to avoid costly litigation

Snapchat isn’t alone 

It would be a mistake to think that this is an isolated issue. As a whole, women are underrepresented in the tech industry, a situation that doesn’t seem to be improving. Even though women make up nearly half the workforce in the United States, they only fill 28% of the jobs in the tech industry. This underrepresentation helps perpetuate a cycle of exclusion that only aggravates the issues.

Pay disparity also remains a problem. Women can expect to earn an average of $15,000 less than their male counterparts – and they’re largely conscious of this fact. The lack of fair compensation has made many women reluctant to go into the industry in the first place.

Finally, the culture of many tech workplaces tends to be unwelcoming – or downright hostile – to women. Many women (and even some men) say that sexist “jokes” and commentary and “frat house” mentalities are more the rule than the exception.

If you’ve suffered gender-based discrimination in your workplace, don’t let it derail your goals for the future. The appropriate legal guidance can help you understand your options.

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