The tech industry — both startups and big companies like Google and Yahoo — have struggled with gender inclusion and its overall “brogrammer” culture. Men in tech outnumber women seven to three and make up an overwhelming majority of leadership positions. That disparity has been shown to shut women out for not “fitting the culture” or because they are considered unqualified. Once hired, women in tech frequently face sexual harassment and discriminatory policies that ignore gender-based harassment in the workplace. This kind of culture has also been blamed for the droves of women leaving science and technology jobs much sooner than their male counterparts.
The tech industry’s homogeneous culture has also been attributed to cultivating bad policies that alienate female customers by painting them as technologically challenged or excluding them altogether. Assassin’s Creed video game developer Ubisoft recently angered fans for refusing to add a lead female character to its newest game because it “too much work,” ignoring the fact that half of all gamers are women. Microsoft also fended off backlash earlier this year after it released a controversial commercial implying that women only use computers for wedding planning and checking Pinterest. Google faced similar allegations after airing a Gmail tutorial that suggested a woman could use the email service’s new format to easily confirm dates and shop for shoes. Since then, the company has launched new initiatives to get more young girls and women interested in tech and improve diversity.
Washington Post syndicated columnist George Will is standing by his recent article on sexual assault that sparked considerable backlash and led at least one prominent newspaper to drop his byline.
In an interview with C-SPAN that will air in full sometime in July, Will said he wouldn’t take back a word of his controversial column, and dismissed his critics as overreacting. “Today, for some reason, indignation is the default position of certain people,” Will said. “I think it has something to do with the internet.”
Will takes issue with the Obama Administration’s recent report on the scope of the campus rape crisis, which cites data from the Department of Justice to conclude that one in five college women are the victim of sexual assault. He claims that statistic is much too high and doesn’t line up with the other data about sexual assault reports.
Over the past week, experts who research violence against women have pointed out the flaws with Will’s interpretation of the data, which relies on a dubious analysis from the American Enterprise Institute — a right-wing group that has a long history of downplaying campus sexual assaults. Nonetheless, Will is defending his column as an important tool to educate people about the real data at the heart of the issue.
Oftentimes, the so-called “political” or “trouble-making” behavior they engage in is simply doing what Title IX laws require them to in order to keep their students safe. Every professor I spoke to described a remarkably similar pattern of behavior on the administration’s part: when faculty object to the desultory, ineffective sexual assault and rape policies offered up by universities, they’re ignored; when they persist in their criticism, they’re labeled “hysterical” or “troublemakers” who are acting out of a “personal agenda,” and they’re put under increasing pressure to keep quiet. In some cases that pressure is insidious. In others, it’s bafflingly blatant: for instance, I spoke to two women who were denied tenure after helping students report sexual harassment (which, again, is their legal responsibility under Title IX).
The crux of the issue here is that colleges see the campus rape crisis primarily as an image problem. They put their illustrious reputations before their students’ safety, and, in doing so, they actively harm survivors. Because 1 in 5 women will be raped in college, a spotless sexual assault record simply isn’t possible. When college administrations strive to make it seem as though sexual assault and harassment are wildly uncommon, what they’re really doing is demanding that sexual assault survivors stay quiet about their experiences. Plainly put, low reporting numbers don’t reflect a dearth of sexual violence. They’re indicative of the fact that survivors are afraid of coming forward. But many college administrations seem not to care about this distinction.