HOUSTON, Texas. Women face unique challenges in the workplace and when trying to secure funding for their start-ups. They may not be perceived as credible as men. They are not paid as much as men. And they are punished for acting assertively. Don’t believe it? According to Glamour, 33 percent of polled Americans believed that women lie about sexual harassment. Another 45 percent considered it a “minor” issue. Women are doubted. They are not always believed. This is despite the fact that reports indicate that fewer than ten percent of all sexual harassment claims are false, and the number might be as low as 2 percent.
Yet, in the case of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes was believed and showered with money. Her fall has captivated the imagination of the country.
Yet, the recent fall of Theranos could create more problems for women. Elizabeth Holmes, the female CEO of the company, has been charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Holmes recently settled with the SEC, “neither admitting nor denying any wrongdoing, according to Elle. Yet, high-profile cases of women being discredited in the public eye can create problems for future female entrepreneurs, who already have to overcome doubts from investors or managers who may harbor unconscious biases against women.
Women who lie face more serious punishment. According to research, men are more likely to lie to personally benefit on the job. Women are less likely to lie, but when they are caught, they are more seriously punished. For example, Elle reports on how Martha Stewart was treated by the media after being charged with insider trading. Though she only avoided a loss of about $45,000, her name became synonymous with Enron men who sold $60 million in shares.
Elizabeth Holmes’s downfall can have serious consequences for women who want to succeed in Silicon Valley. Elle reports that only 2% of venture capital money goes to female start-ups. When men with the money spoke to female start-ups, they often asked women about the losses they expected. When they spoke to men, they spoke about the potential gains.
Women have also reported sexual harassment when they sought funding. In some cases, they were put in quid pro quo situations where funders asked them on dates or asked them to exchange sexual favors for funding. When women face these kinds of challenges, it becomes even more difficult for them to be taken seriously or to receive money for their businesses. When women don’t receive the money they need, they don’t become CEOs—and so the gender pay gap and power gap persists.
There are ways to fight back. If you believe you have been harassed on the job or harassed while seeking funding, consider reaching out to qualified legal counsel. Moore & Associates are employment lawyers in Houston, Texas who work to help women seek justice after suffering sexual harassment or discrimination on the job. Visit our firm at https://www.mooreandassociates.net/ to learn more about your options or rights under the law.
Moore & Associates
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675
Houston, TX 77002