Colossal hi-tech companies such as Apple and Google have been accused from time to time of propagating a sexist working environment that favours sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Research conducted amongst 200 women working in technology companies found that 60% had experienced unwanted sexual advances, whereas one in three didn’t feel safe.

By Maria Louka

This article was published in cooperation with European Press Prize.

The majority of straight white men are almost unfamiliar with a category of sounds. It is the sound of irregular breathing on a dark road at night; breathlessness from running all the way home in order to get in safely, the unutterable cursing on the underground or at the traffic lights of a busy junction, the gritting of teeth at work or in a lecture room, the echoing of an extended “no” disappearing after an act of imposing male dominance. I am talking about fear; not of the existential type that is associated with death, the passage of time, or illness, nor of neurotic fear conveyed through objects or situations. I am talking of the fear that women experience. It is integral to our collective memory, an unspoken and painful common experience. It accompanies us solidly from adolescence, initially in an amorphous and hazy manner but later we recognize this to be the shape of a man. He may be a relative, a co-student, or a colleague, a complete stranger on the road, or in a bar, he is every man who sexually harasses a woman.  It is all at once the archetypal threat and the epitome of macho culture that so many of us have unfortunately fearfully come face-to-face with at some point.