The “old boys’ club” which excluded women, harassed them, and paid them at a lower rate than men has been demonstrated in court to have been common for eons in the corporate world. When women began bringing class actions against large institutions in various industries, businesses and professions, the ‘ol boys club began to crumble.
It seems now that the venture capital industry is next on the block, having recently been targeted by women, who are not well-represented in what has been called the “clubby world” of Silicon Valley. As has been widely reported, on February 7th three women sued venture capital firm CMEA and a former partner for sexual harassment and retaliation. They claim a hostile workplace based upon allegations of dozens of inappropriate sexual comments and acts, bullying and intimidation made by the then operating partner. They claim that this occurred frequently in front of other partners who took no steps to stop it. In fact, they say, the firm founder warned one of the plaintiffs that the operating partner was a “predator.”
Two other lawsuits have already been filed against Silicon Valley VC firms, but this one has hit the news probably because, as CCN Money and Fortune report, “Some of the examples [of harassment] are shockingly lurid, and far more explicit than what is normally found in a Silicon Valley harassment lawsuit.” The complaint can be found at: http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2013/03/08/vc-firm-sued-for-sexual-harassment/
The defendants “flatly” deny the allegations in the lawsuit.
We’ll see if suits like these “go viral” in Silicon Valley and the tech industry, as similar ones previously did against, for example, banks and other financial institutions.