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Courtesy of Y Combinator

After a week of upsetting headlines about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, there's an undeniable theme as woman after woman took the stage at Y Combinator's Female Founders Conference in San Francisco. Being a woman in tech is hard — but there's some hope.

Why it matters: As a minority in the tech industry, women often shy away from speaking up for fear of losing out on opportunities to get a job, raise funding, or thrive in the Silicon Valley. But in recent months, after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler (who was in attendance at the conference) and several female entrepreneurs went public with their accounts of harassment and discrimination, there's a sense of small progress in the tech industry.

Some speakers addressed the recent news about Binary Capital's treatment of women and Uber's workplace issues directly on stage.

"I'm pretty pissed off but I think we have to use it — we can't just be mad — we have to use it as an opportunity to be constructive," said Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee. "And i don't think that this story is over. I think more sad stories will come out over the coming weeks about behavior in the industry that's unprofessional and unacceptable that will piss us off even more," she added.

Others took the time to thank the women who went public with their stories that triggered an entire industry to pay attention. "I cannot thank them enough, they're my heroes," said Y Combinator co-founder Jessica Livingston in her opening remarks.

The hard truth: Many shared their own stories and lessons about being a minority in a male-dominated industry.

"In the last year my attitude has changed — it's naive to think that if you work so hard you won't be discriminated against," said Shippo co-founder and CEO Laura Behrens Wu. "If you just look at that, nothing has changed," said Nio CEO Padmasree Warrior, who was previously Cisco's CTO. "The fact that we're speaking up is a change — that, I'm very proud of."
"It's happened to most women in this room and we just eat it," said Lee.

And of course, there was great advice.

"Dont ask for permission," advised Blavity founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun. "There's all this data and all these numbers that say that we shouldn't exist. If you looked at the data you literally wouldn't go outside."
"Why should we be making money for assholes?" asked Lee, adding that hopefully entrepreneurs and other investors can steer founders towards firms that are inclusive and don't misbehave.
Lee's advice: "Be confident but don't stretch -- if you're a little too arrogant they will ding you for being an exaggerator. Know your numbers -- women will get dinged for not being quantitative enough. Be good at following up."

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.

10 hours ago - World

Putin to demand legal guarantee against NATO expansion in call with Biden

Biden and Putin meeting in Geneva in June. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand east — including to Ukraine — and plans to raise the issue in an upcoming phone call with President Biden, according to the Kremlin.

Why it matters: Russia has massed more than 94,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and could be preparing for a large-scale invasion at the end of January, Ukraine's defense minister said Friday.