The inspiration for this survey came out of the incredible conversation from the Ellen Pao & KPCB trial. What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace. In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories. We focused on five main areas including: Feedback & Promotion, Inclusion, Unconscious biases, Motherhood, and Harassment & Safety. 

We asked 200+ women focusing on women with at least 10 years of experience. The survey is largely bay area with 91% in the bay area/silicon valley right now. We have a broad age ranges with 77% 40+ and 75% have children. Our respondents hold positions of power and influence with 25% are a CXOs, 11% are Founders, 11% are in venture. In addition to capturing start-up data, we also have employees from large companies including Apple, Google, and VMWare. 

We encourage you to read, discuss, and add your anonymous stories to this initiative. 

Trae Vassallo, Ellen Levy, Michele Madansky, Hillary Mickell, Bennett Porter, Monica Leas, Stanford University, Julie Oberweis, Stanford University.

Too hard or too soft


Have been told they are too aggressive (with half hearing that on multiple occasions)

It is difficult for women in tech to strike the right balance without being seen as too meek or too harsh:

  • 47% have been asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues are not asked to do (e.g., note-taking, ordering food, etc.)
  • 32% disagree that they have been asked to do these tasks.

No Seat at the Table


felt excluded from key social/networking opportunities because of gender

  • 59% have felt they have not had the same opportunities as their male counterparts
  • 90% witnessed sexist behavior at company offsites and/or industry conferences

Unconscious Biases


have experienced clients/colleagues address questions to male peers that should have been addressed to them

  • Eye contact with male colleagues and not me: 84%
  • Demeaning comments from male colleagues: 87%
  • 47% asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues not asked to do

Impact of Family


were asked about family life, marital status and children in interviews

  • 40% feel the need to speak less about their family to be taken more seriously
  • Of those who took maternity leave, 52% shortened their leave because they thought it would negatively impact their career

Sexual Harassment


of women in tech reported unwanted sexual advances

  • 65% of women who report unwanted sexual advances had received advances from a superior, with half receiving advances more than once
  • 1 in 3 have felt afraid of their personal safety because of work related circumstances



who reported sexual harassment were dissatisfied with the course of action

  • 39% of those harassed did nothing because they thought it would negatively impact their career
  • 30% did not report, because they wanted to forget
  • 29% signed a non-disparagement agreement


The Elephant in the Valley was a collaborative effort between seven women in Silicon Valley with backgrounds including Venture Capital, Academia, Entrepreneurship, Product Marketing and Marketing Research. 

We compiled a list of several hundred senior level women from our collective contact lists and invited them to participate in a survey about gender in Silicon Valley. We had 210 complete an online survey between April and May 2015.

Profile of the respondents:

  • 100% female
  • 91% living in Silicon Valley
  • 25% CXOs (CEO, CMO, CTO, etc.), 11% VCs, 11% founder/entrepreneur, 11% marketing
  • 22% under 40, 42% 40-49 and 36% 50+

Share Your Story

Please add your anonymous stories to this initiative so that more stories can be heard.