According to Ensono’s recent annual Speak Up report, 1 in 3 women reports experiencing sexual harassment at tech events – up from 1 in 4 in last year’s report.
Ensono surveyed 500 women across the US and UK who had attended a tech conference to uncover their experiences and their thoughts on how conferences can improve to become more inclusive. Tech has the second-highest incidence of sexual harassment among white-collar industries.
Women reported frequent experiences of sexism at events:
- “They had women handing out goody bags, and they refused to give me one as they were for ‘businessmen.’”
- “One of the organizers thought I was there to refill coffee — I was actually giving a keynote.”
61% of women said tech conferences are not designed with women in mind, to such an extent that some do not even have female bathrooms. Other examples include:
- barstools as onstage seating causing problems for skirt-wearing panellists,
- microphones designed to clip onto suit lapels making it awkward to attach to a dress,
- equipment like projectors and screens too high up for women to reach.
The report also suggested that women of colour face the highest levels of discrimination at tech events. 59% of women of colour reported experiencing discrimination, compared to 43% of white women. Extraordinarily, 80% of women of colour said they have experienced being the only woman of colour on a panel.
“This year’s report comes at a tipping point for the tech industry, and the spirit of change has never been stronger,” said Meredith Graham, Senior Vice President of Culture and People Experience at Ensono. “While we never could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, now is the time to implement change and create cultures that champion diversity and inclusion, not only in tech but across industries.”
“Although the overhaul of in-person conferences has increased the opportunity for women to gain representation at tech conferences and have better experiences, it doesn’t stop there,” said Lin Classon, vice president of product management at Ensono. “The industry still has a long way to go, but it’s research like this that provides companies with data and tools to initiate change.”