Susan Fowler’s “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber” broke over the weekend, and the number one thing I heard on Twitter was the reminder that this is not specific to Uber. Uber may be particularly bad (see below for past offenses), but many, many women in tech experience things like this. To varying degrees, to be certain, but that includes worse experiences.
I’m fortunate enough to be in a place where the (few) women in my immediate organization have not experienced this while working there…or they haven’t told me, because we have a professional connection more than a personal connection. I regret that I can’t say that about all of Apple, and even in our department I’m pretty sure there are a few sexist assholes. I doubt they’ve gone to this level, but I can’t be sure.
But that said, I refuse to work in a department where this happens. I refuse to work somewhere where I can’t recommend a friend joining the team because they’d be at risk for sleaziness, sexist power plays (see also below concerning Amélie Lamont), and harassment. If this happens to you and you’re in my department, I will fuck shit up on my way out if you decide to do something about it and the company doesn’t listen.
This is not the only way to help, and since I just said my department still is a place I can recommend, it’s not even a strong call as is. It’s also a statement made not just from a place of male privilege but white privilege (in tech) and having racked up enough experience and contacts that I’m not afraid of finding a job elsewhere. There’s even an extra part about how I can be furious about this, while if the actual victim shows emotion than their—her—account is called into question. Fowler got past this by framing it all humorously, and I suspect (from comments by people like Lamont) that she put a lot of thought into that and possibly consulted with other women to decide what would be most effective.
Fuck people like this. #DeleteUber. But men in tech, please then go do something about your own company. Especially if you’ve seen the women and non-binary folks leaving.
P.S. Another reminder from Twitter: if you’ve had a friend who’s had an experience like this but they haven’t shared it publicly, DO NOT out them. Retaliation is high, despite being illegal. It has to be their choice.
[originally posted on Facebook]
Appendix A: Records of Uber’s past awfulness
(thanks to my friend Calvin)
- “The moment I learned just how far Uber will go to silence journalists and attack women”
- “Uber should be keeping women safe, but Uber has a woman problem”
Appendix B: “Not a Black Chair”, by Amélie Lamont.
Lamont pointed out in justified frustration on Twitter that the tech community seems to get much more riled up about what happens to white women than those dealing with both racism and sexism, or anything else intersectional. I suspect this is a networking effect, but I remember seeing Lamont’s story and feeling sympathy anger at the time…and I don’t remember if I even reposted it myself, so whatever the reason the effect seems to be the same. Another way in which we need to do better.
Appendix C: A tweet concerning retaliation
I asked people who had reported harassment or assault to their employer to tell me what happened after.— ashe dryden 🤟🏼🥄 (@ashedryden) October 12, 2013
23 of 25 were fired within 3mos.