Silicon Valley’s women have spoken. Now what?

“It’s been going on for a while.”

It’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot since Susan Fowler, an ex-Uber employee, published her explosive blog post that ultimately toppled one of the most powerful chief executives in San Francisco.

“I’ll tell you – Susan Fowler kicked off a big thing here,” says Jessica Livingston, who co-created Y Combinator, the most highly-respected start-up investment programme in Silicon Valley.

“That’s what you have to understand. This stuff was happening all the time and people were complaining to their confidants and sharing it with their family.

“No-one was coming forward on the record with ‘here’s an account of these horrible things that happened to me’. It just felt too scary, a possible career breaker for people. That was the feeling.”

But that may be changing, if the mood at Y Combinator’s Female Founders conference is anything to go by. The annual event is a gathering of would-be and successful female entrepreneurs. And this year it has been given added vigour. Call it, the “Uber in the room”.

“We couldn’t have this conference without referencing it, I mean come on!” Ms Livingston continues.

“It’s such crazy stuff. I do think there is an undercurrent in the conference today of ‘this is awful stuff that’s happening, but it’s been going on for a while… and now things are going to change.'”

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