SAN FRANCISCO -- Silicon Valley is wrestling with yet more damaging allegations of harassment and sexism as a prominent engineer accuses her company of creating a hostile work environment that led to her resignation.
Julie Ann Horvath, who was a developer with GitHub, made the allegations public on Twitter and in an interview with technology blog TechCrunch over the weekend.
GitHub, which has raised $100 million in funding, said Sunday night that it would conduct an investigation into Horvath’s claims. The company also said it had placed a co-founder and an engineer on leave.
“I would like to personally apologize to Julie,” GitHub co-founder Chris Wanstrath wrote in the blog post. “It’s certain that there were things we could have done differently.”
Horvath responded on Twitter. "I'm glad it's being addressed now, but don't congratulate and praise an org that knew and refused to act for over a year," she said.
She added: "Nothing will be resolved on my end until both of those men are asked to step down."
GitHub is just the latest tech company accused of sexism. High-profile voices including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have spoken up in recent years to urge the industry to make women feel welcome and supported in Silicon Valley.
The tech industry may be famous for its bravado about changing the world, but it lags behind other industries in its treatment of women, many of whom say they routinely confront sexism.
Horvath’s revelations came as a surprise because she had publicly promoted GitHub as a good place for women to work.
She joined the company in 2012 and headed up Passion Projects, a group that promotes the work of women developers.
But behind the scenes, Horvath told TechCrunch that she was subjected to a pattern of gender discrimination.
Her male colleagues judged her work based on her gender, she said. A male engineer whom she rejected romantically retaliated by removing lines of code from her projects, she said. She recalled male colleagues gawking at two female employees hula-hooping. And she said the wife of a co-founder harassed and intimidated her.
“Every employee deserves a safe work environment and to be respected by their peers,” Horvath said on Twitter.
Horvath did not respond to a request for comment. GitHub also did not respond.
“GitHub has grown incredibly fast over the past two years, bringing a new set of challenges,” Wanstrath said in the blog post. “Nearly a year ago we began a search for an experienced HR Lead and that person came on board in January 2014. We still have work to do. We know that.”
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