Breaking News
More () »

The elephant in ATX: Sexual harassment rampant in Austin’s tech, KVUE study finds

An anonymous survey of 464 women in the Austin tech industry reveals that sexual harassment is rampant.

Shawna Reding

Play Video

Close Video

Published: 6:34 PM CDT April 26, 2022
Updated: 12:23 AM CST November 16, 2017

WARNING: Some of the language in this report may be offensive to some.

For some women in Austin’s tech workplaces, the sexual harassment is right in their face.

“A pat and roll on your back, a blunt proposal and men who think that your actions are leading them on,” the female founder of one startup in Austin said.

For others, it’s so prevalent it’s kind of turned into a joke.

“I used to have a dick pic folder on my desktop with all my dick pics I received in it,” a female engineer at a local startup said. “Some of those belonged to management or coworkers, not just random dickwads from the internet.”

It’s repetitive.

“… A contractor looks at my body up and down, a colleague stares at my breasts, a colleague insinuates I should perform oral sex on him,” a female engineer at an Austin startup said.

It’s redundant.

“I can't name how many times I've been hit on. I've been asked to meet up for coffee to talk about market strategy and the beta of my company's product, and it ended up being a bait and switch as a date (in his eyes),” a product developer at a startup said. “I can't go to a meetup without being asked out. Although this to be (sic) considered an honor to be considered ‘attractive,’ it makes it even more of a struggle to be seen as a peer.“

It happens over and over.

“I have been harassed, had unwanted advances, inappropriate behavior and had a stalker,” a consultant at a large tech company said.

You get the point.

Those testimonials came from some of the 255 women – that’s 55 percent of the female respondents -- who responded “yes” to the question, “During the span of your career, have you ever been subjected to unwanted sexual advances?”

Of the 464 women surveyed, 56 percent said they’ve received sexual advances from colleagues. Thirty-seven percent said they’ve received advances from clients and 31 percent said a superior has made a sexual advance.

KVUE's survey was based on a nearly-identical one conducted in California's Silicon Valley after Michele Madansky, one of the coordinators of that survey, gave KVUE permission to recreate it. More than 700 people -- 464 women and 254 men -- of varying positions and levels in Austin's tech industry anonymously responded to the survey.

In Austin, for every one woman working in tech, there are three men working in tech.

Before You Leave, Check This Out