Much of the talk about the sexism in the technology industry focuses on ratios: only 25% of computing jobs were held by women in 2009. Other calculations put the number of female engineers much lower than that. Data released by Google earlier this month showed that women account for just 17% of its tech employees; at Facebook, women hold 15% of “tech” jobs. And those numbers won’t likely increase anytime soon. In 2013, women made up 14% of all computer science graduates, down from a peak of 36% in 1984.
But the gender imbalance is not just a pipeline issue. Nearly half the women in science, engineering, and technology jobs leave their industries by mid-career, double the attrition rate of men. Although that coincides with when some women are starting families, a 2008 study found that workers dropped out not because of growing demands at home but because of “antigens”—things that repel women from these fields such as isolation and a lack of mentors, and yes, harassment. A full 63% of women in science, engineering, and technology have experienced sexual harassment, according to the study.