Boardlist founder says sexual discrimination is more prevalent than people think

Sexual discrimination and harassment doesn’t seem to be going away, according to a recent survey by the Boardlist. Boardlist works by sourcing recommendations from its members, who are both male and female, to provide a platform for tech companies to discover and connect with board-ready women.

The Boardlist asked its network of women, who are qualified to serve on boards, about mentorship and their experiences with harassment and discrimination. Of the over 100 respondents, about 72% reported experiencing gender-based discrimination ands 45% reported experiencing sexual harassment.

“I’m not surprised by fact that discrimination is in the kind of perspective of most women leaders, including those who have been successful,” Boardlist founder Sukhinder Cassidy told me. “I think it underscores the fact that it’s more prevalent than people think, specifically discrimination.”

Quick note that men aren’t the only people capable of harassing women. Women and people of other genders are equally capable of making life a living hell for others.

“I am sad to say that I have had just as many negative experiences with women in the workplace as I have with men. Women must change their entire perspective, and I have worked to mentor and champion that change.”

Meanwhile, it turns out that men play a big role in the careers of women. Over 80% of the women who responded reported having a mentor, with 67% of those mentors being men. That’s something that really jumped out at Cassidy.

“I knew it was a big number, but that was a key highlight for me,” Cassidy said.

Since launching in July 2015, Boardlist has helped place five women on boards of directors at tech companies. In total, just 96 women have been appointed to boards since July 2015, according to data from Boardlist. Maybe that’s because it’s not a friendly place at the top.

“Among women at the top there is a scarcity mentality,” one respondent said. “If the company culture is not truly women-friendly, yet management needs to have a token woman to show that they are trying, then that token woman becomes one of the hardest hurdles for the other women. As she sees her position as dependent on her gender and therefore if there are more women, she loses her standing.”