Workers in the tech industry have experienced a dramatic increase in harassment based on gender, age, race and ethnicity while working remotely over the last year, according to a new survey from the Silicon Valley nonprofit advocacy group, Project Include.
Shannon Bond of NPR has reported that the increases in harassment measured by the group most commonly occurred against women, transgender and nonbinary people, as well as Asian, Black, Latinx and Indigenous people.
Project Include was founded by Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit and a leading advocate for diversity in tech. The group surveyed nearly 3,000 people from across the U.S. between May 2020 and February 2021. According to Bond, more than 1 in 4 respondents reported that they had experienced gender-based harassment over the course of the study period.
“That figure increased when race and gender identity were accounted for, to 39% of Asian women and nonbinary people; 38% of Latinx women and nonbinary people; and 42% of transgender people,” Bond reported.
Pao told Bond she was interested in conducting the survey to prove that discrimination and harassment don’t end just because people are no longer working in a communal in-office setting.
“There’s the assumption that once everybody went separately and you were protected in your own home, that you wouldn’t see the same level of harassment,” she told Bond. “It turned out that actually wasn’t the case.”
In the survey, harassment was defined as behavior such as “yelling, uncomfortable or repeated questions about identity and appearance, and requests for dates or sex.”
“Women of color were the most likely to report increased race-based hostility, including 45% of women who identified as African, African American or Black and 30% of women who described themselves as Asian or Asian American,” Bond wrote. “Also, 14% of the respondents reported increased age-based harassment.”
The survey also showed a dramatic uptick in workplace hostility, which was defined as “behavior that is less abusive than harassment and may not break company rules, but still creates a harmful environment.”
Pao said that she believes the increase in harassment and hostility may in part be the “result of people working longer hours, the blurring of boundaries between work and home life, and more conversations where other office mates aren’t present as witnesses.”
“There’s more one-on-one interaction when you’re not in the office,” she said. “People are seeing more harassment on chat, on email and on video conferencing.”
“The survey also showed an increase in anxiety overall as people have shifted to working from home — a whopping 85% of people said they were more anxious,” Bond added. “Nearly two-thirds [of survey respondents] reported working longer hours.”