back to article As angels, rich dudebros suck: 1 in 5 Y Combinator women tech founders say they were sexually harassed

Nearly 22 per cent of women tech biz founders surveyed by startup accelerator Y Combinator learned the hard way that venture-capital and angel investors can be creeps or worse. Of the 88 founders responding to the survey by Callisto – a non-profit funded by Y Combinator that tackles sexual assault – 19 "experienced one or more …

  1. Securitymoose

    How long will it be...

    ...before this goes the other way, and an investor turns down a harebrained scheme in good faith, and finds himself on the end of a trumped up (no pun intended) charge, or is threatened with one, should he not invest?

    There are many suitable potential investors it is safe to borrow from, including banks and other reputable companies, and if these are not interested, perhaps this means that they can see that the new idea is not viable... and all this without any sexual undertones?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long will it be...

      I'd rather hope that banks don't lend all their money to startups, most of which fail: that sort of thing is how collapses of the financial system happen, and why VCs are isolated from banks.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: How long will it be...

      Apart from the fact that nobody is likely to approach an 'Angel' investor directly, it'll be the other way around (pretty much by definition of the term), you do know how vanishingly rare false accusations of sexual impropriety are by women against men are, don't you? So rare that it makes then newsworthy, and I can only think of one case that made the news in this country in the last couple of years (the false accuser, a female law student who made accusations against a man in order to get a deferral of her exams was imprisoned for her trouble).

      What is sadly much, much more common is women not being believed or being victimised or ignored when something horrible happens. And that something horrible happens all the time because of arseholes that frankly make me ashamed of my own gender. If you want to be one of those victim-blamers, I've got a good hard kick in the nuts you can have. It's your fault apparently for acting like you wanted it.

      1. Dal90

        Re: How long will it be...

        >you do know how vanishingly rare false accusations of sexual impropriety are by

        >women against men are, don't you

        Between 2 per cent and 8 per cent of complaints are false reports, according to research from North America, the United Kingdom and Australia.

        "Vanishingly" is nonsensical exaggeration.

        The Globe article cited does highlight the interesting range -- from 10% to 30% -- of cases police file as unfounded which does not necessarily mean false but indicates a lack of corroborating evidence to sort out claims. Is the range purely the result of police differences? Community differences in reporting?

        There are reasons to call out both those who dismiss 30% of claims for suspicion that there is something amiss in their procedures, and to call out those who say false accusations are "vanishingly" rare for grossly distorting reality.

      2. The Nazz

        Re: How long will it be...

        I'm guessing (probably incorrectly) that you must not be from the UK. Why? Because only this week :

        Notice the VERY lenient sentence she received? Had there been no CCTV the (wholly) innocent guy may well have been sentenced to eight to twenty years or so.

        And that's after "showing no remorse at all". The inference being that had she done so, her sentence would have been shorter.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Nazz

          Not now, mate. This is a story about women complaining of sexual harassment and you turn it around to ultra-rare scenarios in which men are falsely accused.

          It's not always about you.


      3. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Reporting tool

    So founders can report Tools.

    Good for Y Combinator.

  3. Bibbit


    Only 22%? They should take their case to the Supreme Court...oh wait!

  4. Geekpride


    It's no surprise that scumbags who get power over someone abuse it. This survey identifies the problem, which is a good start, and the anonymous reporting tool is a good idea as well.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Many men should see the movie "The rape of Richard Beck", maybe the less obtuse of them may learn something from it.

  6. JohnFen

    No need for the qualifier

    As anything, dudebros (rich or not) suck.

  7. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    In other words, having power, money, and perhaps technical expertise, does not automatically make one a better person?

    Has anyone told Anne Sinclair?

  8. the spectacularly refined chap

    What level?

    What reports like this do not quantify is what is regarded as sexual harassment. If it is left entirely up to the victim this may give results that independent observer would consider misleading even if the reports are themselves honest i nthe eyes of the complainant.

    I would think that most people would consider that a bloke asking a woman out for a date is fair game. Sometimes this could be slightly awkward but that is the nature of the enquiry, I wouldn't consider that to be harassment unless if it repeated after a clear "no" signal has been delivered. On the other hand if the woman is asked twenty times over by twenty different men that could easily be construed as harassment collectively even if each bloke is simply trying his chances once. I have seen awkward invites out in the workplace, and while you may be left thinking "That could have been smoother" you are reluctant to attach blame to the admirer.

    On the other hand perfectly innocuous behaviour can be misconstrued. I recall perhaps six months ago a girl at work came up to me in tears with a bit of a crisis of confidence over what she was doing: I instinctively reached to put my hand on her shoulder. She flinched before I made contact, so I withdrew the hand and apologised which she immediately accepted. Sexual harassment? To be honest I probably wouldn't have done that if it had been a male. I yes, I'm aware that even referring to a member of staff as a "girl" would be considered sexist by some, but when this is a 19 year old and young enough to be my own daughter I don't want to sexualise her (in my own head at least) by calling her a "woman". Am I being sexist there?

    We have two simple everyday cases here that could be taken as harassment dependign on the attitude of the possible victim. Self-reported studies like this certainly help to show at least a perception of a problem which may be a problem in and of itself. However this is an area where context is key and a simple "Have you ever been harassed?" conceals at elast as much information as it conveys.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: What level?

      "I would think that most people would consider that a bloke asking a woman out for a date is fair game."

      Not in a work environment.

      "On the other hand if the woman is asked twenty times over by twenty different men"

      Correct - you think you're the only person who's asked her out for a drink, and asked nicely so what's the harm. But she's probably sick and tired of colleagues and bosses trying to ask her out every week, sick and tired of trying to let them down gently, sick and tired of worrying about saying no.

      "To be honest I probably wouldn't have done that if it had been a male. I yes, I'm aware that even referring to a member of staff as a "girl""

      I think you're starting to slowly work through and see the problem here.


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