The Institute - September 2019 - 10


they face significant discrimination in the workplace, including
demeaning comments, inappropriate job-interview questions, and
exclusion from networking events and
important business meetings.
Those were among the most common negative experiences reported by
more than 4,500 members-associate
member grade and above-from around
the world who answered a survey IEEE
conducted in 2017. The results were
released last year.
Almost half of those surveyed worked
in academia, and about 30 percent were
from private industry. The rest worked for
governmental or nonprofit institutions, or
were graduate students or self-employed.
The majority of respondents (65 percent)
lived outside the United States.
Nearly 60 percent said they did not
think men and women working in techTI-10


SEP 2019



nology fields are treated equally. They
also reported feeling they were held
back by other factors including their
ethnicity, country of origin, and race.
More than 70 percent reported the
same two negative experiences: Questions or comments that should have
been addressed to them were instead
directed to male colleagues, and male
coworkers made disparaging comments
about them.
Nearly half reported witnessing sexist behavior at off-site meetings and
Female speakers and panelists are underrepresented at tech conferences, and few
are asked to serve as the event's general
or technical chair, respondents noted.
Twenty-eight percent said they had
been subjected to an unwanted sexual
advance at work by either a male colleague or a superior. Only about half of
the women took some kind of action, and

The survey included an open-ended
question asking for suggestions about
what IEEE could do to help address women's issues. More than 1,440 members
answered the question. Their responses
were grouped into eight categories.



Raise awareness of the issues, such as
unconscious bias, harassment, sexist
comments, unequal pay, and exclusion.
Create mentorship programs for students and professionals.
Make conferences more inclusive.
Highlight in IEEE publications people
and organizations making changes.
Raise the visibility of women who
have made contributions to technology by nominating them for awards
and other honors. Also praise and
acknowledge organizations that are
working to resolve the issues women
face in the workplace.
Increase the number of scholarships
and travel grants for women-especially
for those who live in developing countries-by creating funding opportunities
or improving existing programs.


Survey Says
Women Technologists
Face Unequal
Treatment at Work

among those who reported
the behavior, 47 percent said
they were dissatisfied with
the actions taken by their
employer. Respondents who
didn't pursue the matter said
they believed doing so would
negatively impact their career
or not make a difference-or
they simply wanted to forget
about the incident.
When it came to family matters, 51 percent of the women
said that to be taken more
seriously in their career, they
needed to speak less about
their children. Of the nearly 80 percent
who took maternity leave, about half
returned early for fear that being out
too long would jeopardize their career.


The Institute - September 2019

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