San Francisco female entrepreneurs share their #MeToo experiences

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From the steps of Capitol Hill, to the streets of Silicon Valley, more people across the country are sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment as part of the #MeToo movement.

However, in the male-dominated world of technology, many women have traditionally been reluctant to speak out fearing that it could keep their companies from raising money. But, more of them are now starting to share their experiences with the hope of sparking much-needed change.

"I've had investors come in, and after they talk to me, they'll ask, are you and your co-founder dating, or are you dating anyone on your team?" says Diane Keng, CEO and Co-Founder of San Francisco-based Breinify. "They don't ask that to my co-founder, or other (leadership) teams that are male."

Margot Schmorak, CEO and Co-Founder of Hostfully, also based in San Francisco, recalled a meeting earlier in her career with a prominent investor that quickly turned south.

"He was kind of like cornering me into a railing," says Schmorak. "I'm sitting there like kind of laughing along with it and leaning back."

Schmorak was eventually able to get out of the nerve-wracking situation and learned from the experience. Sadly, these types of stories aren't uncommon, as some men in the industry abuse their power.

According to the data firm, PitchBook, female entrepreneurs received just $1.5 bil. in funding last year, compared to $58.2 bil. for male-led companies.

"I haven't met one female founder who hasn't experienced either sexual harassment, or discrimination based on her gender," says Sarah Moret, Cheeky Cosmetics CEO and Founder.

Moret, who previously worked in venture capital before recently starting her own company, had nothing but praise for the men she worked with at multiple investment firms. However, she knows not everyone can say the same.

"There's women that are standing up and speaking out," says Moret. "I think that is causing this shift that will hopefully continue as the years go by."
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