Sexual Harassment In the Tech Industry. Observing Silicon Valley. Taking Stock in the Caribbean

So Uber’s founder and CEO Travis Kalanick resigned the other day…ridding the company of his assholian energy surrounding his leadership style and him prevailing over a company wide culture of sexual harassment of women that’s deep and long.

Now Dave McClure Ceo and Co-Founder of 500 startups, a man who I admire for his mindset and company’s approach towards entrepreneurship and who I actually met i a few years ago has now resigned in the wake of self-reflection and being called out also about him sexually harassing women. Disappointed, not shocked. Don’t like what he did. Still like his company’s investment ethos.

The women in American Tech are speaking up, finally, and the perpetrators are doing the decent thing to fess up and step away.

So, is the white bro-culture of Silicon Valley falling…finally? Hmmm.

I watch with curiosity from a Caribbean country riddled with its own misogyny and sexual harassment culture, society wide, as well as in our own tech industry. I personally have been sexually harassed here… it’s common being a woman walking or driving on the road in Jamaica. And I have surely have experienced misogyny in the tech industry. Being a woman in tech was not easy in the early years- the belittling, the threats, the undermining were all very palpable and from men of all ages, plus those who took planes to do business here. I didn’t speak about it at all until years later.

Now, no-one dares fuck with me. The respect these last 10 years have been earned and now clear, plus while I have a very easy going demeanour, many already know….I have a reputation that Ingrid is not to be trifled with, because I will deal with a triflin’ f*cker like a ninja.

But that’s just me.

This is giving me something to observe and learn from and also reflect on to see if I am doing enough as a woman leader in Caribbean tech, as a Jamaican…with what prevails in my very own backyard…for the young women coming into the industry and those already there with me.

This is something that we ma raise at the first staging of Caribbean Women in Tech Summit in Jamaica this September.

  • Hi Michele,
    You had me at ” However, what is quite disconnecting for me, re all that has been going on in Silicon Valley, is the extent to which ICT/tech has been so male-dominated, isolating and insulated – to the point where sexual harassment has been so overlooked for decades! Even in the corporate world, and in developed countries, the late 1980s/early 1990s was the tipping point for that matter to be brought to the fore and addressed.”
    Yes and yes.
    You are right, I want to get a better sense of how sexual harassment AND misogyny is happening in the Caribbean tech space. Maybe a moot point for Caribbean Women in Tech Summit in September?

  • Michele Marius

    Ingrid,

    Although I have been in the Caribbean tech entrepreneurship space for a good few years, I must admit that to date, my experience of sexual harassment within that space has been limited. Notwithstanding, I fully expect that other women would not be able to say the same…

    However, what is quite disconnecting for me, re all that has been going on in Silicon Valley, is the extent to which ICT/tech has been so male-dominated, isolating and insulated – to the point where sexual harassment has been so overlooked for decades! Even in the corporate world, and in developed countries, the late 1980s/early 1990s was the tipping point for that matter to be brought to the fore and addressed.

    In most instances, the underlying force for sexual harassment is power: e.g., the sense of power a smart and wealthy man has over a younger or newbie female entrepreneur/techie, who recognizes that he has the power to advance the young lady’s project, or to give her a job…

    It would be interesting to get a better sense of how prevalent sexual harassment is in the Caribbean’s tech space, and whether those of us who have been in the trenches for a while can help to alleviate or address that issue…