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The tech industry loves to tout itself as a meritocracy, but its inequalities remain sharp: Not only are women vastly underrepresented, they are also highly likely to encounter sexual harassment.

By the numbers: Even with a heightened awareness of such issues, spurred by the #MeToo movement, one-third of women in tech say they have received or witnessed unwanted physical contact in the last year, according to a recent survey by FTI Consulting and Mine the Gap.

  • Nearly half experienced or witnessed harassment or assault in the last 5 years.
  • Those figures for the tech industry were worse than in other industries represented in the survey, including notoriously male-dominated fields like energy and finance.

"People think that the tech industry is very progressive," FTI's Elizabeth Alexander tells Axios. But, she adds, open workplaces and flat organizational charts don't equal an inclusive workplace — and might even create opportunities for unwanted contact.

Why it matters: There is a lot of talk in the industry about teaching girls to code and recruiting more women for tech jobs. But without addressing sexual harassment and other forms of bias, tech companies won't be able to attract a more diverse workforce and retain those entering the field.

What's next: Alexander says tech companies need to examine themselves with a tougher eye on everything from office culture to sexual harassment training to how well represented women are in leadership.

  • "You need to treat sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct as workplace safety issues," she said.
  • Even microaggressions and unconscious bias can lead to a culture where harassment is more likely to occur.
  • "Go beyond what's legally required," Alexander says.

Among her recommendations are sexual harassment trainings that are frequent, mandatory for all employees and interactive.

"You can't get away with a webinar once every 18 months."
Elizabeth Alexander

The bottom line: The tech industry still has a lot of work to do to foster an inclusive workplace.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

GOP research firm aims to hobble Biden nominees

Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-aligned opposition research group America Rising is doing all it can to prevent President Biden from seating his top Cabinet picks.

Why it matters: After former President Trump inhibited the transition, Biden is hoping the Republican minority in Congress will cooperate with getting his team in place. Biden hadn't even been sworn in when America Rising began blasting opposition research to reporters targeting Janet Yellen and Alejandro Mayorkas.

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Why it matters: Conferences with the press secretary in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room became almost non-existent under the Trump administration. By sending Psaki to the podium hours after President Biden took the oath of office, the White House signaled a return to pre-Trump norms.

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Haines. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Image

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Why it matters: Haines is the first of President Biden's nominees to receive a full Senate confirmation and she will be the first woman to serve as DNI. She's previously served as CIA deputy director from 2013 to 2015 and deputy national security adviser from 2015 to 2017.