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Why gender bias … is the "elephant in the valley"

Molly Wood Jan 26, 2016
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Ellen Pao (C) leaves the San Francisco Superior Court Civic Center Courthouse on March 27, 2015 in San Francisco, California. A jury found no gender bias against Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao and former employee at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers. After testifying in the case, independent investor Trae Vassallo was inspired by the support she received from other women to start The Elephant Valley Survey.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On the list of major tech companies announcing earnings this week? Apple, Facebook, and eBay. The number of companies listed that are led by a woman? Zero.

It is no secret that being a woman in Silicon Valley can be a challenge. The Elephant in the Valley survey asks over 200 women who’ve been working in the tech sector to share their experiences.

One of the people who put it together is independent investor Trae Vassallo, who spent ten years at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. (She’s now a strategic advisor to that firm and others.)  She said the impetus for the survey was the Ellen Pao discrimination trial last year.  

“I was subpoenaed to testify, and I had to talk very publicly about a sexual harassment experience. What absolutely shocked me was the outpouring of support I got from so many women,” she said.

She wants to give women a place to share their stories. “All of us love tech, we love what we do. But some of these experiences are really tough, so by sharing these experiences I hope women can go into their jobs and be more armed with what to expect, how to respond, and how to power through.

Catherine Rampell wrote about the survey for the Washington Post. “Women are subjected to these very unattainable standards … It’s this idea of implicit bias, where people don’t realize they’re making the judgments they make. You need to talk about it, so people can be conscious of it and self-correct.” 

For more, check out the Elephant in the Valley survey here.

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