Main image of article Internship Experiences: Negative for a Third of Women in Tech

Not every internship experience is a positive one, according to a recent survey from Girls Who Code, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching coding to middle- and high-school girls.

Specifically, Girls Who Code found that 29 percent of women had a negative experience during the internship application process; another 40 percent knew of women who’d endured such experiences. Of those who went through a negative experience, some 54 percent said the company had a “notable lack of diversity.”

“The experiences of these young women ranged from bias to discrimination to outright harassment, and were representative of startups and Fortune 500 companies alike,” Girls Who Code wrote in a note accompanying the survey data. “They shared stories about implicit and explicit biases in interview processes—interviewers doubting their abilities, facing all-white male interview panels, feeling an overwhelming pressure to consider their appearance, being passed over for less qualified male candidates, even being the targets of unwanted advanced by male recruiters.”

Moreover, some 21 percent of young women applying for either a job or internship reported biased questions, while the same percentage said they’d been on the receiving end of inappropriate verbal remarks. “We believe it’s likely there’s a direct connection between the discrimination women face in recruiting and the harassment and retaliation that awaits them once they enter.”

The tech industry has long struggled with issues related to diversity. Even big companies such as Google with loudly stated commitments to diversity have found that actual progress is often slow. The 2018 edition of Dice’s diversity survey found that 21 percent of respondents said they had witnessed gender-based discrimination.

The issues here are clearly systemic, in other words, and as much as companies issue diversity reports (and diversity pledges), this data from Girls Who Code suggests there’s still quite a long ways to go to fix things. Especially when it comes to an internship.