Over the past several weeks, I've learned of something very disconcerting. My father shared with me a story before it went huge – a story that few knew about before the media got ahold of it, and before it went viral.
Susan Fowler's personal account of her time at Uber.
Being an aspiring woman in tech, it is highly disturbing to learn more and more about the 'dark' secrets behind sexism in STEM. I've always thought of the sciences as a place of progress and innovation, and therefore I applied the same standards to them. Obviously, if science was ahead of the times, you'd think workplace gender norms would have done the same.
Apparently not. Within this post, Fowler recounts the borderline horrifying practices at Uber headquarters. Uber, an app that facilitates paid transportation services, is based in San Francisco. Led by polarizing CEO Trent Kalanick, Uber has had its share of controversies in the past. But the magnitude of this one is a first.
An engineer within the company, Fowler reminisced the sexist practices that were hid by corporate officials, and even Human Resources (HR). This shielding of obviously inappropriate behavior is what drove Fowler away from the company. She dealt with workplace sexual harassment, an ignorance of the problem, and sexism as a casual norm.
The code of ethics detailed in her account are disconcerting and highly appalling. At a time where women gained the right to vote about 100 years ago, it would be naive to not expect any sort of gender bias. Obviously, we are human beings, and we make many a mistake.
But to condone this unconscious bias with gross industry and professional behavior is exactly that – uncalled for. Fowler, an accomplished and absolutely driven engineer, was an asset lost to a totally dated company. A company whose values are nonexistent, outdated, and wholly immoral.
However, to not talk about a problem is to pretend it does not exist and therefore condone it. This is the issue with many female developers, scientists, programmers, and engineers – not speaking up. As a young woman interested in the fields of sciences and technology, I believe it is absolute vital to recognize that only with a united voice will change come.
Therefore, I highly encourage any and all of you to read Fowler's account immediately if you had not done so. Even if you are male, it is incredibly important to have allies in uniting against this universal injustice.