It's called the 'Pao effect' — Asian women in tech are fighting deep-rooted discrimination
September 19, 2017 – USA Today – Sysamone Phaphon felt lucky when, after quitting her job in health care to start a tech company, she was approached by an investor at a pitch competition.
It was only after the investor lured her on a business trip to New York that she realized the offer to help her raise money was a ruse to sleep with her.
Phaphon says it’s an all too common experience for Asian women to get sexually harassed in the tech industry, part of routine discrimination that hampers their careers.
“I wasn’t the only woman at the pitch competition,” says Phaphon, founder of FilmHero, a Web app for independent filmmakers. “I was the one he hit on because I was Asian.”
By most measures, Asians and Asian Americans are well represented in tech, with 41% of jobs in Silicon Valley’s top companies. Though Asian women hold fewer of those jobs than Asian men, they’re employed in far greater numbers than other women of color, leading some to assume they do not face the same levels of discrimination as African Americans and Latinas.
Yet research from Joan C. Williams, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, shows that Asian women report experiencing as much bias, and sometimes more, than other women do. And Asian women are the demographic group that is the least represented in the executive suite relative to their percentage in the workforce, according to a study of major San Francisco Bay Area tech companies by the nonprofit Ascend Foundation.
“Asian women face a double whammy of racial and gender discrimination,” says Bo Ren, who worked as a product manager at Facebook and Tumblr…
…Even with so many constraints, Asian women are making their mark in tech, from holding management jobs in major tech companies to running their own start-ups and venture funds. And that’s lighting the way for others.
Every time Gladys Kong attends a tech conference, someone walks up to her and asks her a marketing or sales question while her male colleagues fields technical questions.
“I either have to wear a sign that I am an engineer or I have to show them I know what I am talking about,” says Kong. “Yet I am the one behind building the product.”
To continue reading Gladys Kong’s comments for USA Today, please click here.
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