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Survey: Half of women in STEM jobs say they’ve faced discrimination

A new survey from Pew has this headline: “Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity.”

No kidding.

As Silicon Valley’s workplace diversity wars play out – and amid the spotlight on sexual harassment and abuse in the tech industry and beyond – Pew Research’s survey finds that half of women who work in science, technology, engineering and math say they have experienced some sort of discrimination on the job. That compares to 41 percent of women in non-STEM jobs who say they have experienced discrimination at work.

Some specific types of discrimination women reported experiencing include earning less than a man doing the same job (29 percent); being treated as if they were not competent (29 percent); and experiencing repeated, small slights at work (21 percent). Six percent of women surveyed said they were denied a promotion because of discrimination.

When broken down further, the numbers are even more stark.

Of the women in STEM who work in workplaces that are majority male, 78 percent report feeling discrimination at work, and 27 percent said they had been sexually harassed.

Among women who are in computer jobs, 74 percent say they felt discriminated against at work, and 30 percent reported being sexually harassed.

Pew’s findings, published last week, are based on a survey conducted from July 11 to Aug. 10 among a sample of 4,914 adults 18 years of age or older, plus the research center’s analysis of Census Bureau data and surveys.

The findings come on the heels of a couple of high-profile lawsuits filed in the past two weeks against tech giant Google. One claims Google pays women less than men and promotes them less frequently than men. Another claims Google discriminates against men, conservatives and white people. The latter suit was filed by James Damore, the engineer who was fired by Google after he wrote a memo that attributed the dearth of women in tech to biological differences between men and women.

In addition, allegations of gender discrimination or sexual harassment against women have affected tech companies such as Tesla, Uber and Amazon, and venture capital firms such as 500 Startups and Binary Capital in the past year. On the flip side, the now-defunct Yahoo was targeted with a discrimination lawsuit in 2016 by a couple of male employees who say they were fired because of their gender.

And in 2015, Ellen Pao lost her sexual-discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. That trial set off a conversation about sexism in the tech industry that is obviously far from over.

Overall, the Pew survey found that about 52 percent of U.S. adults say gender diversity in the workplace is extremely or very important.

The survey also looked at the numbers of men and women in STEM jobs, as well as the numbers of under-represented minorities – blacks and Hispanics – in STEM.