How Technology Is Giving Everyone A Voice To Share Sexual Harassment Experiences

Written by Dominique Burns

It’s not unusual that sexual assault cases are kept silent. Not speaking out used to be the norm. Every day, victims suffered in silence, in fear of being shamed instead of supported.

Sexual harassment and assault have been the topic of discussion in the media. Women and men have finally chosen to speak out about being assaulted sexually by some of the top names in Hollywood.

American gymnast and Olympic gold winner Aly Raisman made news when she admitted she was sexually assaulted by the U.S. National team doctor, Larry Nassar.

Gabby Douglas, also an American gymnast, took to social media to explain that “it is our responsibility to dress modestly and be classy.” Douglas also said, “Dressing in a provocative provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.” After receiving backlash on almost every social media platform, Douglas then admitted that she too had been a victim of assault.

Every day, victims shame and criticize others because they may not be ready to come to terms with their own truths. Douglas not only attacked her teammates, but also thousands of women in other industries who are battling living with being sexually assaulted.

Just like in gymnastics, women have been targeted in the tech world with sexual assault and discrimination.

You’d think being a woman who can code in a male-dominated industry would provide positive feedback, confidence and power. Not for the women who are approached with sexist comments at work.

According to Fortune, 60 percent of women have experienced unwanted sexual advances, and 65 percent of those women received the comments from their superiors. Women in tech are often taken less than seriously when it comes to their profession. Being asked personal questions during an interview are just one of the things women may experience.

Sexual Harassment
Illustration By: Tara O Brien

Sexual assault and discrimination have been an issue in the tech community for years, but now women are finally sharing their stories and high-profile investigations have begun.

In an industry that glorifies men, its hard for victims to think about bringing their truth to the surface and gaining justice. Ellen Pao, a former investor with the venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, sued the company in 2012 for gender discrimination. After Pao attempted to end a romantic relationship with a former partner, he retaliated and she lost the case in 2015. Later the same co-worker was accused of sexual harassment at another firm. Pao is still fighting to make her voice heard in 2017.

Adria Richards, a black woman working at tech startup SendGrid, was fired in 2013 after tweeting about sexist comments she overheard during a conference co-sponsored by her employer. Although one of the two men she  accused was fired from his firm, it created negative backlash towards her company. The decision to fire Richards was immediate.

Female game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu have been harassed online, threatened with rape and death, and had personal information about them released — just for being women. They have shared their experiences, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.

All victims of sexual harassment and assault should be able to share their experiences with the world and be supported, without the backlash, what ifs and most of all, without being blamed.

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About Dominique Burns
Aside from being a recent graduate of Hampton Univesity, I'm a lover all things social media. Hard news and what’s trending fuel my fire to write stories that keep readers engaged and wanting more.