International Women's Day: Diversity cannot exist where misconduct thrives

Co-founder and CEO of Vault Platform, Neta Meidav, on the lack of venture capital funding reaching women and why diversity requires long-term changes, not quick fixes.

International Women's Day is held annually on March 8th to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women whilst providing a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year, IDG Connect has interviewed women from across the world who work in the technology sector to find out more about the current global landscape for Women in Tech.

According to a 2017 study by PwC, only 15% of UK employees working in STEM roles are female. Additionally, only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women. When you consider the fact that 78% of the survey's interviewees couldn't name a famous female working in technology, those numbers are disheartening but unsurprising.

Over a quarter of the female students that PWC spoke to said they've been put off a career in technology as it's too male dominated and, as every industry continues to deal with the fallout from the #MeToo movement, stories of discrimination and inappropriate male behaviour at technology companies are likely to have done little to change the attitudes of these young women.

A co-authored report by the Everyday Sexism Project and Trades Union Congress that was released before 2017's watershed movement found that 52% of women in the UK had experienced unwanted behaviour at work including groping, sexual advances and inappropriate jokes. That figure stood at 63% for women and girls aged between 16-24. One in every eight women spoken to for the study had experienced unwanted sexual touching of intimate body parts whilst almost a fifth said they had been harassed by their boss or someone else with authority over them.

Despite this, four in five women said they did not report the incidents to their employers, fearing that it would harm their relationships at work or that they would not be taken seriously. And herein lies the problem: sexual harassment in the workplace cannot be eradicated if it is not first reported.

Google has faced continued criticism from its employees over the last six months due to its practice of forced arbitration - a policy that requires employees to waive their rights to make a legal claim in court and instead go through a private system. The search engine giant has now ended the practice, but only after 20,000 employees staged a walkout back in November.

Zero-tolerance workplace policies are wonderful in theory, the issue is that they are rarely implemented consistently. In many workplaces, the necessary channels don't exist to facilitate the proper reporting of such behaviour, meaning it is often left undisciplined or assimilated into company culture.

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