Ashley Judd to tech industry: ‘The sexism in your workplaces must end’

Actor and activist Ashley Judd
Photo courtesy Marla Aufmuth / TED

Ashley Judd has accused Silicon Valley of not doing enough to stand up to misogynistic cyber-bullying. She suggests that tech titans begin by addressing issues of discrimination in their own offices.

In a TED talk published today, Judd opens up about the hateful gender-based harassment she and other women face online every day, which has become both "traumatic" and sadly "routine." (Warning: The language is profane.) Her speech serves as a call to action to those who perpetuate, make possible and even profit off of that kind of sexism.

Change, she maintains, must start at the top.

"Shall we talk about our friends in tech? Said with dignity and respect, the sexism in your workplaces must end," says Judd.

Judd argues that tech companies must to do better at hiring women in all ranks of their corporations. Likewise, she encourages them to become compliant with the EDGE global certification system, which monitors and measures gender inequality at work.

"EDGE, the global standard for gender equality, is the minimum standard. And guess what, Silicon Valley? If L'Oréal in India, in the Philippines, in Brazil and in Russia can do it, you can, too. Enough excuses," she says.

The most current version of The National Center for Women & Information Technology's report on the tech industry shows that while women have more than half of all professional jobs, they hold only a quarter of computing jobs. Perhaps more discouraging, over the past two decades, the percentage of women holding computer jobs has fallen from 35 percent in 1991.

"Only when women have critical mass in every department at your companies, including building platforms from the ground up, will the conversations about priorities and solutions change," says Judd.

Watch the full video below.