Totally normal behavior! Who hasn't spoken about their sex life the very first day of interactions?
"Welcome to the team, we use Git for source control, all of our company knowledgebase is on Confluence, and I'm in an open sex relationship! See you at lunch!"
I can't fathom what kind of weirdo does something like this, male or female.
Most women in Silicon Valley have had experiences similar to those mentioned in the article (HR disbelief, multiple women reporting same man to no effect, retaliation, legal threats, &c, &c).
The OP probably declined a severance package to write this.
Also differentiate between some colleague being interested in them and boss proposing sex on first day.
As for the latter, putting lines in the sand is a good way to be seen as not wanting to listen... I'm not saying that's what you're doing in this case, just how it comes across. Like, you've decided in advance what you want the result from the discussion to be, and no woman will be able to cross whatever standard you've chosen for inappropriate propositions (even when this is totally untrue).
Don't understand your comment about lines in the sand. What do you mean?
Apart from that, I wonder what evidence you are talking about? References? How often are claims waved away? Or is that just something you intuitively know?
And by the way, people coming out in response to such an article is also just classic confirmation bias. You need to put stories in relation to the total workforce before you claim almost everybody gets harassed.
If only you applied such rigorous quantitative standards of evidence to your own claims.
And btw I think it gives the impression they don't want to hire men, it doesn't prove that Google doesn't want to hire (white) men. But if they are interested in hiring white men, they might check the message they are sending out.
For sure their reputation is so good that white men will probably still apply in droves, so whatever (same probably goes for women and PoCs, anyway). But in my opinion they will also drive away some people. (edited to add "in my opinion")
And as I said - it is fine if you disagree, but at least there is something tangible to disagree on. That's different from simply playing into some stereotypes. Seriously, you are defending here the equivalent of "I have heard all blacks are criminals, and therefore it is true, no matter what you say". Wtf?
What evidence do you have for this?
If you really want to nitpick, quantify my sentence with "in my opinion".
I can't wait for your quantification of the life at google twitter.
Simply counting people yields 29% white women, 19% women of color, 21% men of color, 30% white men.
Not a very exact science, though - I left out groups above a certain size (for example picture from Anti-Trump demonstration or MLKday), and in some cases I couldn't recognize the people. Many white men come from office shots where they linger in the background, whereas there are many tweets explicitly featuring female or black engineers. It seems by only looking at their "media timeline" I also missed photos like this one: https://twitter.com/Every28HoursPla/status/83166688771703193... (which they retweeted).
I'll try to find time for a better "analysis", ideally including texts.
Compared to last time there seem to be now more posts boasting technology at Google. For example there were several about Tensor Flow, all featuring the same white guy (I counted him for every instance).
I couldn't find the time when I last posted about lifeatgoogle, would have liked to look at their tweets from around then.
For comparison employee stats from 2014: http://mashable.com/2014/05/28/google-employee-demographics/... - 70% male, 91% white or asian.
Yes, it reflects demographics of the US, but not demographics of tech or demographics of Google employees. So the account definitely doesn't reflect life at Google in an unbiased way.
Also, I tried to err on the side of counting too many whites. For example I counted this screenshot from an animation movie as two whites: https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle/status/824649101069455361
I counted the blurry people in the background of this office: https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle/status/817466019526610947 but I only counted 2 PoCs here despite the further pictures with more https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle/status/822528000646381568
I also missed a lot of pictures because I didn't realize the retweets wouldn't be in the "media list".
I just made it up on the fly for a quick, simple metric. It would be better to decide beforehand what counts, for example if the person should be the item of a news story, should be presented as an engineer, stuff like that. And a longer time. I think I had 150 people, so the animation picture alone accounted for more than 1% of the final count of white people. As I said, some office shots greatly raised the white people count, counting only people who were subject of major stories would have lowered the percentage a lot.
Maybe you are jumping to conclusions because they confirm your beliefs?
Your original point was that you thought Google wasn't interested in hiring male engineers anymore. The current demographics of Google are irrelevant to Google's hiring strategy. Why would they be?
You're not only displaying confirmation bias in the way you are trying to undermine the clearest quantification you have access to, but you're also avoiding your original statement.
You initially presented the lifeatgoogle twitter feed as evidence, and you had no quantifiable evidence that it was biased. Now that you do have a quantification, you're walking back the importance of that evidence. Perhaps you're doing this so you can maintain your poorly quantified view?
If only you gave as much latitude to other people.
And again - I only used one simple metric, which already shows bias (it doesn't represent the actual demographics of Google employees). You assume now that metric is conclusive because it fits your conviction. By looking into more aspects the picture would be more clear.
And where do I not give latitude to other people?
No, you're now walking back your claims because the one metric you have quantified doesn't fit your conviction. At the time you claimed that by simply looking at the feed you could tell it was biased. You initially made the claim that the lifeatgoogle twitter was related evidence to your claim that google wasn't interested in hiring men anymore. I'm not silly enough to claim that a brief perusal of a twitter account can be extrapolated into a claim about a company's hiring strategy.
Thanks to your quantification, we have some evidence to suggest the lifeatgoogle twitter is fairly representative of population demographics along gender and racial lines, at least in the US. I don't see the data as conclusive of anything more than that.
It is still biased against white men (if it is supposed to reflect the actual distribution of Google employees), but not as extreme as last time. I really would like to find the date of my last comment about it. Also perhaps simply more data is needed - a single picture with several people could shift the results here, because I checked only pics from 2.5 months.
Also better methodology needed, this was just a quick shot looking into one simple metric.
Lets examine the data you've provided - 29% white women, 19% women of color, 21% men of color, 30% white men.
This data is entirely in line with the demographics of the US. About 50/50 on gender and 60% white. In fact, given google's global hiring reach, these figures are actually biased towards white people - while about spot on for gender. This entirely contradicts the point you were originally pointing to this twitter feed as confirmation of.
Women learn from a very young age to be very selective about who they trust, in a much more nuanced way than men do.
If you haven't heard such stories from women, it's quite probably because they're not comfortable telling you such things.
In any case, as I mentioned in another comment, a collection of stories is not a good way to gauge the problem. You need to put it into context - number of women in total, and also, what happens to men. Stories like this suggest that only women ever have bad experiences at companies. But you can find lots of male reports of being unhappy at a company, too. Why isn't that reason for men to quit in droves? Presumably the Uber-woman is happy with her new job at Stripe, too.
The issue is that because of bias against men, few people even realize that they are talking about completely fabricated assumptions in this thread.
And again: there are not even that many women who could tell such stories. I'd say 1 in 20 software developers at companies I worked for were female. So it is not a case of me not being told things by women on a significant scale. The women didn't tell me such stories because those women don't exist to begin with.
Until recently, I'd only ever read accounts of bad things like this happening at certain conferences, and not seen anything first hand. A few months back, one of the female staff on our team changed their github picture. When mentioning this in conversation, it turned out that random people (not physically at work, but github users who did not know any of us in person) were harassing/propositioning her solely due to that image. What sort of screwed up person does that?! People should be able to do their jobs without dealing with crap like that.
I don't doubt men are often attracted to women, even colleagues. Whether that alone should count as sexist harassment I consider debatable, but in any case it is not the same level as a boss proposing sex on the first work day, with threat of career disadvantages for rebuffing the offer.
And regarding the last paragraph, I'm not talking about anything in the workplace between colleagues or otherwise. I'm talking about creepy strangers propositioning people they have never ever met or communicated with, on github. github is not a dating or hookup site for strangers. It's for sharing and collaborating on code. There are other, more appropriate, sites for dating- and hookup-related activities with willing participants who opted into it. No one wants or needs to deal with strangers propositioning them through the tools they use for their professional work. You should not feel required to hide your appearance or identity to be comfortable doing your job without being harassed, unsolicited, by strangers.
Real harassment is already illegal. Conduct policies can only serve in the gray area where people do not want to get police involved, but still want to exact some form of retribution and punishment, often by playing the politics game. It empowers the wrong people for the wrong reasons. It also creates the illusion that tech is particularly nasty, when the exact opposite is true: despite what activists claim, it is far more meritocratic than most industries, and far more reliant on tools and methods that emphasize work over personality and identity.
The propositioning, this is a fact of life: men propose, women dispose, and it's creepy unless he's attractive. Fact is, people like to date people with similar interests, they meet in all sorts of contexts, and some are more tactful about it than others. That doesn't mean it's automatically harassment to be flirted with outside of a dating site or bar night, or that it's never welcome.
One asshole manager is just one asshole manager, and such crudeness is the exception, not the norm.
Some people would love to receive just an ounce of affection and appreciation just for merely showing up, so being able to complain about it is the luxury of the desirable. Especially when, as I've often seen, it's paired with exasperated stories of how so-and-so just won't take the endless "clear hints" that have been made, but a polite but firm "sorry, flattered but not interested" is never actually provided. We are told we must be more empathetic, but the empathy for the socially awkward or the lonely, those who are bad at reading social cues, that's never on the table. All this talk of "safe spaces" seems to vanish once it's the real nerds and geeks, the 'losers' who need consideration.
Just keep in mind, HR is mostly a female-staffed endeavour, and the passive aggressive and underhanded interaction described is certainly not typical of male interaction styles. If it's a poster child for how not to behave, I don't think those griping about techbros and misogyny are quite thinking through the implications here.
Also, if she reported you to hr, then you should consider it hint clearest possible. We are not even talking about subtle misunderstandings here, he invited new employee to have sex.
Stop blaming douchebaghery on geekiness or nerdiness, most geeks are not like that.
Also, there is little direct about male keeping business info away from competitor or
retroactively lowering her review scores to keep her. The politics there was ugly as fuck and had zero to do with merit.
I think if you organize an event, you should be allowed to assume your target group are good people. For people who nevertheless step over the line, the normal standards of decency apply and they can be dealt with, CoC or no.
If you want a source though, here is one: (https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-we-fail-to-report-sexual-harassm...)
In this case, the data is moot. It doesn't matter if 10% of women experience this, or 90%. Whether or not it is a problem is not in debate. It is a problem. Preventing sexual harassment is everyone's responsibility, even if you are not the one harassing.
As for the linked problem, I criticize that it doesn't properly define sexual harassment. The comparison here is to a guy who proposed sex on a first work day and threatened a stunted career. Is that really what women experience all the time. Or is it mostly that an unwanted colleague is attracted to them? The methodology is also not clear (very likely they only asked women, which seems rather one-sided. For "real" crime there is a reason for there being courts and judges).
There's a high karma threshold for voting. There's a lower karma threshold for flagging. Flagging (I think) should be reserved for serious violations. The flag button appears if you click the timestamp of the post.
I am also aware of a funded dev tools startup that has a single woman engineer: She happens to share a bed with the CEO every so often. Imagine how comfortable that must be for any other woman that might join the company, or anyone sharing a team with said woman engineer.
So I have seen the kind of weirdos that do something like this. I don't wish them on my worst enemy.
People who get off on violating other people's boundaries.
This is absolutely believable, Uber has pretty much made it their standard to break the laws where-ever they can, why should work place conduct be any different? In for a penny, in for a pound.
You'd never hear something even close to this from Stripe or some other company run by upstanding folks.
Fish rots from the head.
I don't feel like I read a lot admonishment (which would take forms like "by not suing you're complicit in harm to other women" or "if your story was really credible it would involve a lawyer"). I do feel like I read a lot of "you know, you could also..." or "this is a good example of why...".
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. "Aha, she's got a lawyer! She's making up this nonsense to try and get a fat cash payout from Uber!"
Admonishment was probably too strong on my part, but I read the lawyer comments as more, "You should..."
Those cases invoke skepticism because they twist otherwise innocuous situations and try to blow them up into witch hunts where people lose their livelihood. No one should lose their job because an accusatory party happened to overhear them making a stupid juvenile dongle joke.
Susan's case on the other hand has clear, well-defined accusations of people acting in what sounds like unprofessional and sexist behavior to anyone with common sense. People should get fired if they ask their subordinates for sex multiple times. No wonder it (rightly) gets a lot of support.
I don't consider the dongle situation to be a story of institutional sexism at all, but one of a positive feedback loop of poor judgment and/or overreaction, by many of the people involved.
I would caution you from believing that anything less than a serious of incidents this meticulously documented shouldn't be taken seriously (e.g. Horvath's report). Most people are firstly concerned with being good at their jobs, not identifying the thread of sexist or harassing behavior underlying a bunch of incidents separated in time. Often, only in retrospect can the trend be seen. And by that time, it's difficult to find all the hard evidence.
Institutional sexism is rarely someone deciding to treat another person poorly, because they are a woman. More often, it's someone making a judgment call in a complex situation that turns out (due to their biases or lack of empathy) to exclude or demean women. The pattern of such things is what creates an unwelcoming and taxing environment. How many mental cycles must it take to cope with all of that bullshit? Most people's performance would suffer, leading to the conclusion that women just can't hack it. It's pretty incredible that the author thrived professionally, in the meantime.
Note that an environment of baseline hostility toward women may or may not be garnished with openly sexist behavior, as it was in this case.
Hula-hoops? Oppression because men may ogle. No hula-hoops, only video games and ping-pong? Oppression because the management isn't sensitive to the feminine interest in softer recreational activities, like expression through movement and dance. Either of these are plausible complaints.
Open-plan office? Great, creativity-boosting boon for employees that ensures everyone will build strong working relationships, and shows the employer's interest in fostering an open, collaborative environment where there are literally no barriers, physical or metaphorical, between teammates.
Or, wait, is it open-plan offices: Degrading, dystopian wage slave farm that ensures one manager can see all 50 monitors in the room at once and pounce at the first moment that someone switches to a Facebook tab, and a disrespectful mockery of a professional's need to concentrate on their important and serious work which could literally stop the company's cashflow if a minor mistake gets made in the wrong spot?
The point here is not to trivialize or to necessarily equate sexual harassment with other types of uncomfortable working situations, but to demonstrate that when what you admit is a "complex judgment call" is presented, flaws can usually be found no matter what decision is made. Judgment calls become complex rather than simple because there are substantial tradeoffs involved in all available options.
That's a lot different than having timestamped messages and strong documentation backing up explicit and clearly inappropriate advances from your immediate superiors. There's a lot less gray area to defend there.
I too often see a tendency for people to treat claims of wrongdoing more skeptically than counterclaims of innocence, especially where gender is involved. That makes me very, very uneasy.
And I will point out that the course you advocate places those consequences on the party who, if truthful, has already suffered harm. That outcome is certainly not better than people assuming bad things, however tentatively, about the target of a false accusation would be.
If it dies, it will be via dependence on meat space. There's only so much of moving atoms that can be digitally replaced and the core business is a commodity: it could compete with taxis because rides between A and B are mostly fungible and being better than existing taxi service was not a very high bar and being better than standing in the rain waving your arm was not a high bar either.
I'm sure it's software engineering is really good. But over the long term, it can only provide marginal advantages to a business that boils down to personal services.
This one is not Uber, but you get the idea.
more like little over 1 year . Originally wanted to say 2 years, didn't know loss climbed to $3B last year.
Sometimes profit and social goals happen to align.
The brothers have something good going there and I'll bet that when the dust settles Uber will be part of that dust and Stripe will have IPO'd or similar (possibly even this year).
This is how it's done:
Uber will have to learn to play within existing frameworks.
Key Nordic proverb: "Pissing in your pants keeps you warm only for so long". In other words, using your funds raised to make up for shortcomings elsewhere in the organization will sooner or later come to and end.
Fowler is one. Julia Evans is another that comes to mind.
I wouldn't be surprised if they had amazing internal documentation for their engineers.
Also, the author repeatedly used the percentage of women engineers as an index of workplace quality/sanity. So we'd expect Stripe's to be much higher, right?
Is that the case?
It's not like she got a job working at the DMV or something.
I'd feel the same way if, say, s/women/conservatives/ or s/women/$minority/.
The same is true of some other dynamics. I've seen an exodus of young men from a team because a new boss came in who didn't think sexual harassment was acceptable workplace behavior. The excuse was "the workplace isn't fun anymore", but before that it wasn't fun for people who didn't enjoy spending all of lunch talking about how to pick up chicks. Or for technical quality, if a company is successful the engineer who didn't want to write tests or get code reviews is going to rage-quit at all the "extra process" that keeps them from breaking the build on a Saturday night like they used to.
Sometimes when conflict emerges, a company has to take a side and whichever side is alienated is going to end up leaving. The question then is which side did the company come down on.
Don't have the answer for you. But I would say the repeated lies by HR she stated in defending repeat offenders, and having the same reports of harassment by her female coworkers over the same managers speaks more to the quality/sanity of the place than percentage of women in the workplace.
What goes around comes around.
I still support our local taxi company and talk to the drivers who take me (typically to/from the airport). Many of them have had experiences with Uber and don't have good things to say. However their traditional business is struggling.
So, not sure what you're referring to but perhaps people are using unbelievable as a synonym for astonishing. ie. not literally.
At least from my anecdotal experience, I've never seen anything like this among the four companies and 20 years I've been in software development and engineering. Granted, the percentage of women who were in technical, non-management, positions hovered around 20%. In those cases, the skillsets of the women ranged as much as it did the men and all of the folks I worked with treated each other, regardless of gender, respectfully and professionally.
I wouldn't imagine seeking a date with co-worker. What happens when you break up? Do you want to bring that to work with you ever day? At the companies I've worked for, I know of one incident where a person was let go for "having a crap-ton of porn on his work PC" that someone from security noticed when the proxy logs flagged his workstation. This individual was a VP, a "high performer" and was very well like. He was also out on his hide a few hours after his laptop was seized and inspected. This was with no reports from women even hinting that he'd acted inappropriately on the job. And we had nobody inspecting proxy logs looking for this sort of thing -- that guy in security who happened upon his workstation ended up being there because he was investigating a malfunction, but because of corporate agreements we'd all signed, he was obligated to report what he found.
I hate to say it, but this is the kind of behavior I'd expect out of teenagers, not adult men. And it's one of those things you usually don't have to tell people not to do. Though I have no experience with this specific kind of behavior, I've noticed that when people fail on morally obvious things, they're often failing on many other things and I would be worried if I were an investor about having my money tied up in a company that had this kind of a reputation -- what other laws does this corporate culture find acceptable to break? I'd be twice as concerned if this were my employer -- not just out of fear of being harassed, but out of fear that a company with these kinds of ethical lapses is often quickest to screw those who work for them (or take them down with them). No way.
 Perhaps my experience is unusual, but for 17 years the VP level individuals in my teams have been women, I've reported to a Director level employee who was a woman and I've had a woman for a manager on more than one occasion.
 Thus far, I know only of this account, which without additional data is as anecdotal as my comment, here, but based on others piling on, I am inclined to believe that there's a real problem here.
 Paraphrased, we were basically required to report everything even if we were not directly involved, but if I saw something this inappropriate, I wouldn't need a signed agreement to persuade me -- I had full confidence in the HR teams at the places I was at and knew it would be handled appropriately.
Anecdotally, I have been organizationally close (same manager, adjacent team) to serious misconduct and was completely oblivious to it, finding out about the wrongdoing years later.
It is likely that Uber is alone with its scope of HR incompetence and wrongdoing. Although their SRE is supposed to have been lifted straight from Google and Facebook, the sexual harassment cases from those organizations didn't involve nearly as much dishonesty and apathy by their Human Resources sections.
Accusing individuals of turning a blind eye to discrimination is a pretty strong charge. An equally strong charge would be to state that some individuals go out of their way to look for discrimination where none exists and call those individuals something akin to "snowflakes". To be clear: I don't, personally, believe either of these things, but I think it's important to play Devil's Advocate from time to time.
Another possibility is that people saying "it's unbelievable" do so because they, themselves, wouldn't dream of acting in this manner or being part of a team where this kind of behavior went on. And I think some people disregard "bigotry and rampant unprofessionalism" because human nature tends toward avoiding confrontation (or risking one's job by causing a problem for an influential manager). That last bit is the worst case because it causes the problem to be sanctioned through inaction, it damages the company, its shareholders, its customers and its employees, which causes a feedback loop making it even harder to stand up when something unethical is witnessed.
 This was done because the managers thought it was the best option for everyone -- the two guys were with the company a long time, would receive a very big severance package (this company had a great severance offering) and they were preventing another few employees from being let go who were younger with families. Unfortunately, I know that in one case, the individual let go was both a high performer and had no desire to retire at retirement age. It was ugly and I nearly left the company after it happened (I only stayed because they were being bought out and the new company was taking us over -- it was as good as getting a new job as the two places didn't resemble each other on anything but paper).
 And I get it -- I was personally told on one occasion by my boss that he "had just spent an hour convincing our VP that I should keep my job" because I pointed out a large license violation I had discovered and wasn't aware that the person responsible for that (unintentional) licensing oversight was in the room. In the end, though, I would have done it regardless and my actions resulted in that manager being forced to work with the vendor, avoided an audit and negotiation got us pennies on the dollar to become compliant, again.
In lieu of anything else: Susan deserves to be commended for her bravery in writing this.
If you work at Uber, quit, and/or contact the board and tell them that this behavior is unacceptable and the people responsible need to be fired. If the culture won't change, the CEO needs to be fired.
If you work in tech, bring up this article with your manager or CEO and tell them that this behavior is unacceptable, opens the company up to ridiculous amounts of lawsuit risk, will hurt recruiting, depress morale, and that you will quit if harassment complaints aren't taken seriously.
This. Companies don't change until there's a huge price to be paid for not changing. When top recruits start turning down Uber because of their sexist policies/politics, then Uber will be forced to change.
If so, that would imply that the engineering culture is being distilled into an evermore toxic workplace, since those who stay are those who make the place toxic or are simply people who try to work around it.
It would take an extremely focused and persistent effort on the part of upper management to change this trajectory before the company implodes, as I suspect is inevitable in the long run should my assumptions prove accurate.
You've interviewed us all, have you?
I don't find the accusations surprising or outside the realm of possibility at all.
My evidence for this is every man in tech who is reacting with shock to this story
My evidence for this is that every man in tech is reacting with shock to this story
If not, I guess neither of us exist, because I (sadly) wasn't.
Edit: Originally said: So let's leave out the "every man" crap and focus on making the world a better place, please.
As grzm points out, I'm an idiot. Disregard the above sentence.
But still, people who wouldn't appreciate this crap definitely exist, and our quitting/refusing to be recruited would likely still make a point.
Edit: minor wording change.
I've seen a 100% male company (quite small, not 75-100 people) and seriously worried about how things would go when some women were hired. Bit rough at first but it worked out for them (luckily). In a small company a bad lawsuit or two could be a serious threat to the survival of the place.
A lot of what is in this article is not even exclusive to women.
Culture has a long inertia, it replicates and grows by itself. So yes, toxic workplace become ever more toxic and no a toxic culture cannot be improved.
Where do I send the bills for my groceries, then? Would you prefer email or snailmail?
Obviously, if you don't think you can easily get another job, stay.
I started reading the article with the view of "If it's really that bad, just quit. Burn that bridge with thermite, and never look back." I finished the article wishing there were more Susan J. Fowlers in the world.
And you know; 100% of the women engineers I know have similar stories. 100%. That's insane.
These stories need to come out so the guilty companies and their toxic environments are exposed for all to see.
I'd encourage everyone here to pick up a copy of her O'Reilly book -- it's very good. Hopefully she gets all the income and none of it goes to Uber...
I'm a college senior at a well-regarded engineering school. My CS classmates - especially women - simply do not apply to Uber, in large part because of its reputation for internal misogyny and general assholery. Four classmates interned there last summer, and as far as I know none are interested in returning. A friend of mine was actually warned off by her software engineer father. I've heard stories from friends who've worked there that corroborate Susan's tales of infighting teams and inexplicable reorganizations due to high-level backstabbing. The one woman I know who works there wants out. Susan is a high-profile and credible source; hopefully her post takes Uber's work culture issues from "open secret" to "problem that has public consequences for the company".
The CEO should crack down and take serious steps towards addressing this problem - not just for PR, but because his company is seriously suffering as a result of these issues. Unfortunately for Uber, from what I've heard, Travis is part of the problem as far as Game-of-Thrones internal politics and backstabbing goes. His "move fast and break things" persona sounds like a poor model for subordinates. Between that and the company's relative external success, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for anything internal to get better any time soon.
Until it does, I simply hope that my acquaintances at Uber find somewhere less shitty to work.
I started as an engineer in the spring of 2014 and this was definitely the case there.
Top engineers were being poached from Google/FB and these people were trying to carve out territory in a quickly growing engineering team.
The misogynistic culture, in my mind, comes from most of the early employees being former frat bros. Culture was extremely heavy on the drinking; see "Work-cations" where most of the team would go to an exotic location which was half-hackathon/half boozefest. There were happy hours every week with open bar because all new employees would be flown to SF (no matter where home office was) for orientation.
Crazy, most ex-employees (even the early ones) acknowledge that the culture is bad but they got their $$$ so they won't have to work again for a long time, if ever.
> Top engineers were being poached from Google/FB and these people
> were trying to carve out territory in a quickly growing engineering
I'm a bit surprised she doesn't have at least one law firm trying to get her to be the lead claimant in a class action lawsuit. Seems like she did everything right and has a pretty sold case. Of course she may have signed that option away when she left.
Also, in California at least, your employer has to give you your full personnel record if you request it. She might ask them to do that.
Why not talk about how wrong Uber was in every way and at every level - allowing a manager to attempt to proposition new direct reports for sex on their first day, not immediately firing them for this, trying to suppress this when taken to HR, rewarding the perpetrator, killing her career there for vague reasons, let alone all the other dysfunction she mentioned in passing? Even just one of those points means a really toxic culture. There are little bits of men's behaviour in every large organisation which resemble this, why not talk about that and ways to make this better? There are so many ways this story can inspire us to do better.
In this case, it would greatly benefit the public good to litigate. Unfortunately, the risk of lawsuits is the single greatest motivator for U.S. companies to combat sexism and harassment in the workplace. We would hope that companies would recognize the inherent value of encouraging the growth of a class of employees so they can be productive, but this isn't the case in most U.S. companies.
I think it's unlikely that Susan would choose to litigate. She is motivated to design systems, write books, and advance infrastructure engineering. Her personal gain from a lawsuit would be slim (what would the damages even be? She probably has no employment gap, considering her excellent reputation in engineering).
Not saying Susan should be the one to sue them, but someone certainly should. Along with the bad publicity one or more lawsuits would definitely get them to clean up their HR practices.
I'm uncomfortable with assigning responsibility to an individual to undertake a crusade when there is little upside and a large downside.
The discussion here really highlights how people combine what they are reading with what they are thinking into a combined message.
I was reading her account and the GP comment from the uber throwaway and making observational comments about people who spend time on political maneuver versus doing excellent work. I've known a number people over my career who got promoted often and achieved great "success" but did so by manipulating the organization and not by doing anything particular noteworthy.
In my experience, that sort of behavior can really only be stopped top->down. There isn't any way that I have found to help someone see that they are incorrectly evaluating employee contribution from a position below there grade level. And like the author found, if the bad behavior continues above your manager, then that is a level of brokenness you can't fix. And as you point out she got out and was moved on.
I also phrased it as an observation, but I am sure that on reading her account there may be lawyers looking for a big payday (Uber is vulnerable) who will approach her. It's what lawyers do. Generally more established companies have a tighter rein on their illegal management practices to make it harder on the lawyers :-)
Uber was wrong, on every level, and that was status quo. And the cost of naming that wrong and speaking of it is high. It is sad that they are not unique in that wrongness.
There is only one way to make this better, and that is to tie this sort of behavior to a loss of money. There are many things we might advocate which impact Uber financially; One is to sue them, One is to give witness to their wrongness so that others will not work there, One is to boycott them as a customer or driver.
Sadly, there is no way to "fix" them because this appears to be cultural. That is the worst part for me, knowing about the rottenness in a company, knowing it "could" be addressed by a strong leader providing incentives for good behavior and disincentives for bad behavior, and knowing that no fixing will happen. That said if their competitors have a stronger (and better) culture, then they will be able to attract top talent in the space and dominate the market. We'll see if that works in this case.
I appreciate you making the comment. I don't imagine it will go over well.
I think the true reason is a bit deeper: victim blaming means that bad events can be compartmentalized to be the victim's problem. So a person engaging in it doesn't have to emotionally deal with the potential problems of the bad event, or even how it could affect them, as they can just say that they would have dealt with it better. A rendition of the just-world hypothesis, really.
That being said, I don't know if I'd call "she should sue" victim-blaming, even though the reason is probably about the same.
That being said, I don't know if I'd call "she should sue" victim-blaming, even though the reason is probably about the same.
This reminds me of some of the BS I have seen where people insist a woman should prosecute her rapist. One of the problems with this line of reasoning is that it makes it the victim's responsibility to try to right this wrong. What if she just wants to put the whole damn thing behind her and not let it eat any more of her life instead of dragging the pain out longer?
It still hangs something on her instead of other people stepping up to bat.
I thought victim blaming referred to specifically blaming the victim for the event itself as / before it happened. Not for what the victim did or didn't do afterwards. Unsolicited advice, in poor taste, but not victim blaming by the definition I'm aware of.
I think most people here asking to sue want to see Uber pay, and they don't really have any equivalent leverage against Uber. There's more victim blaming in the "you should have known how HR works / you should have left" comments.
I tend to frame the sentiment as "That's lawsuit worthy and if she desires to bring one I wish her good luck and good hunting" for clarity, but I find that often people use "should" conversationally to mean "thing I would love to see happen" rather than "thing I believe the object of the sentence is required to do".
Simply put, that's the system we have. It's designed with the assumption that having adversaries argue according to rules in front of a judge is a good way to figure out what really happened.
It's not necessarily the best way to solve the kind of things it's used for, but we don't have an alternative.
> What if she just wants to put the whole damn thing behind her and not let it eat any more of her life instead of dragging the pain out longer?
I can certainly sympathize with that decision.
I was under the impression that criminal cases were pressed by the state, not any given individual.
The only thing the state may ask is testimony from the victim. If the victim is unwilling or unable to give that, then the case may just fall apart due to lack of evidence.
Public support for the confrontation clause isn't popular these days, but I am very glad the courts have continued to uphold it. To quote Crawford v. Washington, "Dispensing with confrontation because testimony is obviously reliable is akin to dispensing with jury trial because the defendant is obviously guilty."
Not necessarily. If someone stabs or shoots you in a public place, in full view of 50 other witnesses and 4K recording devices, then your testimony is unnecessary.
That said... in the US most crimes don't go to court so I can't really say what a hypothetical 'open/shut' case will look like in a court trial, because in reality the offender will plea-bargin immediately.
Some of these things are actually violations of law in California, and the advice I would give Susan would be to pursue legal action.
I hope that helps; if it doesn't perhaps consider why she wrote the article (I doubt it was to solicit comments on what her actions could be).
A class action law suit may be the best way to make this better.
1 - did she ever want to work in X industry again / was she comfortable with being blacklisted, legal or not;
2 - was she comfortable with this being what she did with the next two years of her life
It's a harder decision to make than you think.
Not to mention the unrelenting wave of assholery that would be generated on sites like, well, HN towards any woman that dared do what you suggest.
In the world of grown-up business, as opposed to SV bro startups, that's just one new business opportunity arising to poach talent!
When Organization X consistently scoops up the top graduates from the top schools, they end up with a glut of very smart engineers, most of whom are probably overqualified for their day-to-day work. Since brains and talent aren't distinguishing qualities, political cunning becomes the key differentiator.
> I'm a bit surprised she doesn't have at least one law firm trying to get her to be the lead claimant in a class action lawsuit.
Who's to say she doesn't? She just posted the article.
How do you know she doesn't?
For me this is a red flag.
Booze + programming == pissed programming
We don't do it at lunchtime. We don't do it during the working day. 5:30pm on a Friday? Let's have a glass of whiskey together.
Somebody joining/leaving, or we haven't been out together for a while? Let's go to the pub after work one evening.
There is a #drinks channel in Slack where people who fancy a drink after work co-ordinate, and several of will grab each other once a week for a couple of pints.
That does not mean we are drunk when coding. As for team dynamics, it means we know each other better and bond more frequently. Not a problem, I think.
The downside is that for people who don't want to engage in this or can't (have to look after family, etc.), it can feel exclusionary, so we spend some time making sure we do things with those people too.
Except for the non-drinkers in your team. I suspect that they either
a) feel left out, because a non-drinker at a pub has a boring time, and has to keep justifying their empty glass
b) probably miss out on important decisions if a majority of the important people in a team are present, which is bad dynamics
c) maybe your team doesn't have any non-drinkers. What does that tell you in terms of diversity / inclusiveness?
I'm not pointing fingers at you specifically because you mention explicitly making plans around people who don't/won't drink, but i think there should be more awareness around this, especially since it can seep into the culture quite insidiously, and invisibly.
Every social activity will exclude people who don't like the activity by default. There's no real working around this.
Even if you just have a 'talking' club, you exclude people who aren't natural extroverts or find large group conversations to be maddening.
In essence, there's no way to be perfectly fair... so at best you can have different choices to try to be as inclusive as possible with limited time.
Is this seriously a thing in the US? Feeling like you have to drink if you're surrounded by people drinking? I keep hearing stories like that. Nobody is going to judge you for not consuming alcohol - if anyone does, they're certainly not people I'd want to hang out with regardless of whether drinks are involved.
It doesn't hurt not to give a fuck, once in a while.
Another boss I had any a different job told me he fired someone for not partying with everyone else. If you went to these parties and didn't drink, the boss would harass you all night.
I agree with you that many people are just self conscious, but it's not exclusively that way.
The tl;dr is that people who are insecure will attempt to rationalize their feelings, and this frequently includes feelings of judgement and persecution from others where none exists.
Unless being drunk is your idea of fun (in which case it seems doubtful you'd be a non-drinker), I cannot understand how drinking liquid A at a party is any more boring than liquid B.
In fact a graph of my enjoyment as a non-drinker (in my experience) would probably be inverse to a graph of the enjoyment of the people getting progressively more shit-faced.
I drink regularly; but every now and then I'll go a week or month without drinking. I'm currently in the middle of one of these periods; but I've still gone out to happy hour or events that involved drinking every day since it's started. I manage to have just as much fun sober drinking soda + bitters.
The best part of this drink is that they rarely charge me anything for it. I'll usually tip a couple bucks per drink, and everybody ends up happy!
If your culture is one where that's necessary then the entire management chain should be fired.
We do these things:
1) We don't make any decisions when team members are missing; they have to be done during work hours when everyone is able to participate
2) There's no obligation to drink (why would there be?); several of the team don't drink, and there is no pressure to do so, they get soft drinks/tea/coffee/whatever they like
As someone who is very shy and introverted, it's one of the few times I actually go out socially, and it's a time to unwind and have a chat with your coworkers and associated friends/partners/family. I don't think doing this has any negative impact upon the rest of the team, so long as you don't do any serious discussion and decision making which excludes others.
If you're pregnant, this basically means that you can't be a part of the team's social gatherings for at least 9 months straight.
You were offended by a gift? Just say thanks and give it away or throw it away.
The vast majority of company gifts are useless to many people. Most people can cloth themselves, buy drinks for themselves, buy bags for themselves, etc and have no need for whatever crap the company is getting them as a sign of appreciation.
Unless they demanded you chug the wine in front of them, you really should not have offended yourself this way.
If I give an observant Jew a kilo of bacon as a gift, why shouldn't they be offended by my being an arsehole?
And if the person knew I kept kosher but still offered the bacon, I would laugh it off and then donate it.
Being easily-offendable is not a virtue. Being gracious is.
Sounds like a more balanced view of what I've seen at some companies. Implies grown-ups are in charge.
Is drinking actually bonding though?
It also provides a shared experience that is an easy conversation starter when meeting sober later on "hey, thanks for last night! Where did you end up going after.." etc.
Obviously YMMW, in EU/Denmark it's a very common way to "crash course" people on each other when you suddenly find yourself in a new environment with nobody you know (university, new work). Then again, I'd say EU drinking is a lot more mature than the US one. We usually get introduced to it a lot earlier in life, and have a gentler intro curve rather than going from zero-100 real quick, when entering college or the likes.
"hours-long conversations over beers" sounds like getting wasted to me or at at very least tipsy.
It doesn't. But it can be, because - besides the "social grease" benefits it confers, which I mentioned before - why not?
This is a red herring, if anything.
I think there's a difference between a culture where people drink a lot vs a culture where people get black out drunk and irresponsible with it, though, and maybe Uber is more like the latter.
Are you a woman?
I am a good coder with a bad drinking habit who has worked at companies that were ok with drinking on site. While they handled it well and while I love an excuse to get together over beers and discuss coding, it's definitely a smell. Black out drunk has nothing to do with it. Hell, it would be preferable if people just passed out. The problem is all the folks who don't pass out but all of a sudden think this is a good time to declare their love for a coworker's body.
> The problem is all the folks who don't pass out but all of a sudden think this is a good time to declare their love for a coworker's body.
The problem is if they say something like that, the target is clearly uncomfortable, and then nobody else cares. Banning alcohol isn't going to fix something like that.
If drinking is done outside work/events this isn't what is being described in the article. What about the personal who a) don't drink or b) harassed by those who do? Drinking at work tells me the place isn't interested in performance or their customers.
Sure, but I'm not entirely sure what else you expect. Isn't your statement also anecdotal?
> If drinking is done outside work/events this isn't what is being described in the article.
Sorry, what article? It's not mentioned in the main OP, and the person a few parents up is talking about what sounds very much like events or after work happy hours. I can absolutely see how that can turn bad, I'm just saying it doesn't have to.
"talking about what sounds very much like events or after work happy hours"
The number of engineers bleeding from uber suggests, drinking isn't ^the problem^ but one part of a bigger culture problem. Do you work at Uber?
Yup. 100%. Because I'm an adult and I and my coworkers know how to drink responsibly and not make a fool of ourselves and keep things relatively professional.
It's not like I'm taking shots of vodka at the top of every hour - it's maybe having a beer or two at the end of Thursday and Friday, or having a boozy lunch every now and then to celebrate a success or birthday or someone leaving.
Their "maybe Uber is more like the latter" description of an unhealthy culture I think makes it obvious they don't work at Uber.
@mst fair enough point.
We have beer on tap at work. If I'm in the office late, having an occasional beer at 6pm or so seems perfectly reasonable.
Getting hammered is obviously way out of line but one beer is hardly the same thing.
Do tell what business this is, because unless the industry is alcohol production, I'm having a hard time believing this is an instrinc quality of an industry and not just a "boys will be boys" excuse.
The following excerpt is the first sentence of the conclusion.
"Attorneys experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations."
what? what possible nature of business are you in that makes drinking more (or less) acceptable.
There is no such thing. at work, you work. if you want to get drunk, you aren't working.
Of course, all that is about social drinking, not getting completely shitfaced to the point one loses control. That is never good.
Works at a bar or brewery? Wine related startup? Sales?
you still have work to do, and you probably still have colleagues whose time is valuable that aren't as big on drinking as you think they are.
drinking and having fun is great. at my company, if i wanted us all to drink, everyone got the afternoon off and we went out.
The fermentation industries on the other hand are more legit.
I've worked at plenty of places with a social drinking culture and never could we be bothered to actually code and drink at the same time. Maybe we might have a boozy friday lunch every now and then, but usually retros and 'meetings' like that followed
Also, I think the statement "extremely heavy on the drinking" is so subjective and up to personal interpretation.
I just absolutely do not understand how that is even possible. If I have ONE beer, it throws off my ability to write good code, or hold all of the concepts in my head.
One of the weekly coworking meetups I go to always ends at a brewery (there is a brewery next door to the hackerspace where it is held), and while it is certainly a lot of fun being there brainstorming things, I don't understand how anybody gets actual code written after drinking.
Obviously, that's just my personal experience and while I'm quite confident in my sample size, I wouldn't generalize it to anyone else. YMMV.
This certainly isn't all the code I write (far from it) and it's not for everyone, but it's definitely true for me. That's why I don't think saying alcohol and code can never mix is right, but I agree that it shouldn't be a daily occurrence or the central aspect of company culture. I don't think an optional, after-work happy hour on occasion is such a bad thing though.
Personally, I find coding is hardest when you're blocked or stumped. Sometimes it helps to turn off the inner critic and experiment with code in a way that might feel unproductive during normal work hours. How I approach a problem outside of work is my business as long as the solution is solid.
This should go without saying, but everyone's physiology is different. While most people get drowsy from pseudoeffedrine, it makes me hyper. That's why even if one treatment works for most people, it might not work for you.
Wait, we're citing XKCD comics now as if they are peer-reviewed scientific journals?
i know a lot of people who say they drive better if they've been drinking too. Doesn't mean it's accurate.
This is exactly what happens to me, so I sometimes will code after a bottle of beer or a glass of whiskey. But it has to be little - more alcohol and I start losing focus.
Or I'll go to far, write it, and it'll be unusable.
Everyone has some skill they insist they are "better at" when drunk.
These are only weakly connected.
"What?! Are you crazy?!"
"Don't worry, I got this."
Goes on to write vanilla JS.
Anecdotally, I've noticed that I'm significantly more fluent in my third language when I've had a drink or two. I get many, many more compliments. When I'm totally sober, I tend to trip up more and overthink the grammar.
There are lots of ways to reduce a hyperactive prefrontal cortex, including training (practicing art, meditating, etc.), but alcohol is by far the cheapest, quickest, and easiest.
I do not in any way shape or form endorse doing the same thing with writing production code.
Also, if you think people can't get actual, working code written when shitfaced, then I guess you haven't met the demoscene crowd ;).
There are times when a problem is intractable and I get frustrated through thinking too much about an issue. Alcohol, like caffeine, has its place. I want to stress that I'm not talking about getting hammered at the office, or even mildly drunk, I'm talking about the fact that for some people, a single beer after many hours of work can be helpful in calming them down enough to focus on the whole problem again.
Alcohol can certainly have performance-enhancing effects: comically, the first Olympic disqualification for doping wasn't for steroid use or anything similar - it was for a man drinking "two beers" before his shooting match to calm himself down enough to operate at peak levels.
What is the union of work, drinking culture and SRE (the job the article refers)?
Drinking and programming surely don't mix well. However, a culture that involves, or even promotes, drinking and partying doesn't have to be misogynistic. I've worked in companies that held parties several times per week, with plenty of booze, and they were nothing like what was depicted in TFA.
Good point @metafunctor, didn't even think of that.
@luckeydude, it's a sort of reaction test for brogrammers who work in toxic environments. I can't think of any job (not after hours) where alcohol improves your performance and output.
That and a sound proof studio with piano on premise would be enough to make me quit my job.
That said Uber's been on my douchebag radar at least since their execs bragged about threatening journalists. Hopefully your acquaintances already sold their shares on secondary markets because losing ~3 billion a year would worry me if I was expecting to get rich from them.
seems like the person above you was speaking specifically about engineers.
Can you explain why they don't have to work again? How did they become wealthy? Those options aren't worth anything if the company doesn't IPO.
So far you've only identified that they like drinking, traveling and were part of the Greek social system in university.
What I'm looking for are instances of demeaning women, discounting their achievements, systemic disapproval for the words of women, favours being handed out on the basis of gender, solicitation of sexual favours in non-equal power relationships, or if no examples can be provided then at least people stating that they are 'in favour' of such, or are lax in enforcing rules against such.
I don't mean this as an attack of any sort (the article gives examples after all). I simply want to know more.
What do you have against talking to other witnesses 'of the crime' so to speak?
I just thought you were being a jerk and didn't read the article. Oops.
I find it laughable to hear Uber engineers cry about how unfairly Kalanick treats them.
It might be okay if all the talents that Uber hired could work together to build truly great software, but hell no, their management created this weird cut-throat culture by enforcing stack ranking with forced curve down to each team of first-line managers. It's hard to imagine that a team with fewer than 10 people had to name an engineer who "didn't meet expectation". Yet that was exactly what happened in Uber. They also doted out disproportional amount of bonus to a few top performers. Naturally, people's expectation was distorted, and chaos ensued.
I worked an early employee at a YC startup that was developing a hardware device and I think really ran into similar issues.
There were significant delays with shipping the device which meant that all the teams which had been built up to support its launch had _nothing_ to do for months. People in a "Customer Success" department with no customers. Developer evangelists with nothing to evangelize. Support departments twiddling their thumbs and the worst was the sales and marketing groups which devolved into a Lord of the Flies type environment where they tried latching onto any and every project they could just to justify their existence.
Timing really is everything.
So if you have enough traumatic brain damage to buy that line, stack ranking makes a ton of sense.
I didn't know how to respond to that.
The typical interaction between manager & engineer is that a manager tells an employee what to do, and the employee does it. From the manager's perspective, any employee that's reasonably competent will do: success is binary, either you did the assigned task satisfactorily or you didn't.
From the engineer's perspective, if you're good you considered a lot of alternative ways of solving the problem and finally settled on the best. It seems ridiculous that all employees could be interchangeable, because it's a pretty good bet that some engineers did not consider some of the alternative solutions you did. But remember that the whole reason the manager hired you was so that he didn't need to think about the details. All of those alternative solutions are outside of his conscious awareness; he's condensed his mental model of the problem to a binary "is this good enough to ship?", which frees up mental space for him to think about other stuff. Among those engineers that you think of as "not good enough", there are some who may not have thought of the brilliant solution that you came up with but still have code that is "good enough to ship" in the manager's estimation, and those are the irritating folks on your team who IYNSHO always produce shitty code but stay on the team because they have your manager's political favor. And then there are the folks who both you and your manager agree are too shitty to get the job done, and they're fired.
Who's right? Well, both of you, and neither of you. It's fairly likely that you're overestimating the quality requirements for the job, which is why a number of your shitty coworkers still have jobs. It's also fairly likely that your manager does not have complete visibility into all the long-term consequences of all the code being produced, which is why whole teams occasionally just catastrophically fail.
But it's worth remembering that every time you enter a transaction, you're having your work reduced to a pass/fail grade. It's the fundamental bargain you make when you take a job, and it also is the fundamental bargain you make when you sell a product (entrepreneurs are not exempt from this, and it's a major cause of startup failure among technical founders...including, quite possibly, mine). The advantage of producing better work is that it qualifies you for more different opportunities - which may or may not be relevant, depending on whether you take advantage of those opportunities.
This is true as an employee and as a contractor and as a business. The nice thing about transacting as one of the latter two is there is no pretention of the transaction being anything other than a binary one.
Now that you've brought it up, is a postmortem of your startup written up somewhere?
I'm still working on the 2nd (or 5th, or 11th, or ~50th, depending on how you count)...not exactly ready to declare it a failure, just, well, a whole lot of pivots.
In my experience most programming jobs don't really require deep domain expertise or share it by osmosis. Ideally a smart, dedicated person that gets a 40 hour a week crash course from experts in the field should get up to speed reasonably quickly.
In the absence of experts there exists a whole slew of technology that democratizes hard fields like game creation and machine learning. You can commit all sorts of sins and still end up with a well functioning product. Partly resting on technology developed as an enabler and partly resting on the sheer amount of available compute.
IMO people are far more easily replaced in terms of making an individual code contribution than they are as members of a team and it's the latter that is significantly more important. Good teams are multipliers for their members. Replacing a team member in a well functioning team is a super risky prospect. Yet we live in a world of frequent re-orgs, teams smooshed together haphazardly and overvaluing individual technical skill.
I don't see that changing anytime soon as it all sort of works and there is an endemic lack of interest.
I learned this lesson pretty early in my career when most senior engineer on the team left. I and everyone else freaked out because he was the only one on the team who fully understood how everything works. But you know who was not freaked out? My manager. And he was right, we did not even miss deadlines. In two month everything was back to normal with other people filling his shoes.
Obviously you can't replace Principal engineer with fresh grad and expect success but most of the work done is not that unique or hard.
That qualification at the end makes it false.
If I have to give someone 1 year to learn all of the minute details of the behavior of TCP across the various operating systems clients use, the behavior of packet re-ordering in LAG algorithms, convergence times of BGP, etc, then they are most definitely not interchangeable with someone who does know these things.
Any manager who thinks this way is incompetent and will impose massive opportunity costs on the company by not fighting for raises for existing good employees under the guise that they can be easily replaced.
Have you ever looked around the room and asked yourself "gee, why do we have so many coworkers on this project?" Or said "isn't it nuts that there are some weeks when I can measure my productive output in a handful of hours?"
The current vogue in management is cramming teams into an open floor office and micromanaging scrum points; these measures are introduced because they demoralize and _average_ output, thus introducing slack into the system. That's not a bug -- that's a feature! When someone important leaves the workers can be motivated or "motivated" to increase their output until the proper amount of slack is reintroduced from a hire.
"My experience differs significantly" might sound like "I can't pick up new technologies and work on them". What did you have in mind?
A lot of competent management practices seem counter-intuitive if you've never been exposed to them. Most managers I know have have never even read a book on the subject. Management is often the blind leading the blind. Most likely this kind of environment will scare away any good managers, so the cycle continues.
So, unfortunately, it shouldn't be surprising that these counter-productive practices continue.
That said, reports like this never cease to amaze me.
Microsoft were often cited. You'll note that their renaissance coincides with their elimination of stack ranking.
Which is funny because my experience at Uber was EXACTLY the same. 3 years ago one of the heads of their department emailed me and asked me to come in and give a talk to their managers as the team wasn't doing so well. After I did this, I asked the VP if they were hiring at my level (I was a director/senior manager at the time) and she said yes. When I came to interview it was clear that I was interviewing for the job of one of the people who were interviewing me. Everyone seemed to love me except for this person, who told me they don't hire managers and that I would have to report to him. He was very junior to me and seemed to only want to keep his title/piece of the kingdom. It was obvious I didn't want to be a part of that, so I declined the offer and not only was the person gone a few weeks later, they were gone from their next job a few months after that. There's some serious political stuff going on at Uber.
If by "the real problem" they meant "the root cause" then their theory does appear to fit the facts. I personally suspect it was "both" rather than "one caused the other" but have insufficient data to go beyond "suspect".
The response to other reports are standard. Whether it is a homosexual boss or a female boss, the company will seek to protect itself.
If you think that any of this is trivial, you are part of the problem.
I noted it solely because it's unusual.
It is true that if you are going to _attempt_ to change a culture, it must be motivated from top-down. However, placing that responsibility on the CEO alone is misunderstanding of how culture works.
It's a little akin to saying that culture is the President's responsibility. No, it's everyone's responsibility, and if you want to change it, the influential people in your org (country) must lead and reinforce that change.
The best you can say is that the founder(s) laid the groundwork for the culture. As with anything, changing the foundation later is extremely difficult.
That's what the research says, anyhow. I studied this briefly during my undergrad.
After a certain size the only way to make a change stick is get rid of people that disagree. Or, you can wait for pressure to wear those people down over... A period of years.
If Ubers culture is really this toxic the only way to fix it would be replacement of a fair amount of leadship in the company.
To a point, but when HR gets involved and does not help, that IMHO is often due to the upper leadership being a big part of the problem.
I've seen HR blow off inappropriate behavior when the CEO does or is okay with it.
clearly Stalin missed the memo
Edit: Management should be far more concerned that Uber is allegedly an environment that systematically enables sexual harassment and discrimination against women.
I have one friend who worked at Uber and had years of experience working at another tech company beforehand. Uber basically refused to promote her, even going to far as to hire people significantly junior to her into those senior positions. In one case one of the people who was hired blatantly lied on their resume about their past experience, got caught out for it, and was still hired above her.
Even outside of the bay area Uber has taken many reputation hits for their stupid behavior. The whole incident where they were planning on digging up dirt on a reporter to ruin her character shows a huge lack of ethics at the top of the company. The "god mode" application and research into "one night stands" shows they have no respect for privacy.
Something, it's worth noting, no less true of Lyft. And I think it's a little weird to be demanding owners of infrastructure lock out workers "in support of a strike". That whole reaction was absurd.
This article gives me substantially more pause.
Lyft did not negate surge pricing that day, AFAIK.
But that's actually immaterial: surge was turned off a half hour after the strike ended.
This was in my opinion a very appropriate way to respect the strike without forcing drivers to not make money unless they chose to do so themselves.
Lyft operating as normal: "Fuck this strike, making me pay tons of money bc of surge pricing"
Uber operating without surge: "OMG Uber my savior!!!!! / (can't actually find a cab bc of lack of availability) Whatever, not their fault, it's the stupid strike after all"
It was a calculated cynical ploy like literally everything else Uber does. I have no patience with them, particularly in a thread discussing sexual harassment within. Feel free to spin it as "a very appropriate way to respect the strike" or whatever.
The biggest concern is that this puts Uber in the position of determining what is and isn't "legitimately a strike".
I should note: my peer group isn't particularly tech oriented.
The perception is closely tied to what people hear from drivers, constant negative media coverage, and being recognized as the epitome of a douchey tech company. Those three things combine to make using Uber distinctly un-cool in the eyes of many users. (Note that folks will use it anyway, but not talk about it.)
The services are more or less identical, but I always feel like I'm in the minority when I tell friends I'm calling a lyft.
The sad thing is why do men want to apply there after what is know about it? I wouldn't want to be near any company that treats any of their employees like that.
Some students aren't privileged enough to graduate debt-free. Getting into any of these top compensating packages can mean being literally years less time being in debt.
> work a shit job
Right working as a developer at Uber with a high paying 6 figure job is now called a "shit job". I remember when collecting trash and mining was considered a "shit job", I guess we are from different generations...
I've lived a long time with very low T. So I don't posit: I experienced how my decision process changed when getting back to normal. I just have to stop some meds and go back down to enjoy less impulsivity and a lot more security based decision making.
> Right working as a developer at Uber with a high paying 6 figure job is now called a "shit job".
Shittier than a simple 9-5 job in some corporation where you can have a good work-life balance, less stress bu less money.
> I remember when collecting trash and mining was considered a "shit job"
They still are. And still have a high percentage of men.
This was a disheartening story to read to say the least. I hope that she sues as her case is abundantly clear and the response by HR and the management chain was absolutely unacceptable. If what happened is true, they should be held accountable.
Unfortunately, from my perspective, Uber has a track record of lack of accountability when it comes to leadership/managers. Pretty much everyone I know at Uber believes that Josh Mohrer  and Emil Michael  should have been fired. It's probably fair to say both are generally regarded as being high performers, but what they did was extremely damaging to the reputation of the company and the fact they weren't held accountable only worsens that reputation.
I think that generally Uber is a positive influence in the world. It has created work opportunities for millions essentially out of thin air has fundamentally changed how people think about transportation in cities for the better. Uber is certainly disruptive and its methods and behavior have been brash at times which has often resulted in a disproportionate amount of scrutiny, both deserved (comments and actions targeting journalists, sexism) and otherwise ("support" of Trump, #deleteuber, and surge price "gouging"). For me, Uber is still a place filled with many talented people working on interesting, challenging problems. But a story like this is a tough pill to swallow.
There are other companies out there that solve interesting, challenging problems and don't have this toxic culture. There are other companies with talented people. And if enough of your coworkers disagree with Uber's culture, policies, etc., then the talented, moral people that you work with at Uber may even come with you.
The only way Uber will ever pay attention is if it affects their bottom line. Employees leaving, or people turning down offers is, person-for-person, one of the most impactful ways to do this.
I don't see any reason to try to changing a shitty company. It makes more sense to join a great company and help them grow.
What's the success rate of this? Keep in mind that their HR department does not have the capacity to recognize repeated instances of sexual harrassment, so someone on the inside I guess will want to transfer to HR first, in order to help there, then maybe get promoted into upper management? After that they can demote themselves to driver training.
I guess Ruby on Rails really can do anything.
What's the worst thing that happens? It doesn't work out and you eventually switch jobs. But the best case outcome? You get to work on exciting, important problems for a company that is accountable to its team and their prevailing beliefs and principles. That sounds pretty awesome to me.
'Golden handcuffs' means you care more about your future payout than whatever missbehavior/illegality/immorality you're overlooking.
Also believing that same missbehavior won't cause the contract to be worthless by the time you get to collect.
Intrigued by his presence and directness, the lady raises her eyebrows and says "go on..."
"Would you sleep with me for a hundred bucks?"
"No! Who do you think I am?!"
"I know who you are, we're just engaged in market price-discovery."
I don't know if the person you were responding to was intentionally implying Ms. Fowler probably had a unicorn's worth of money on the table for the typical 1-year cliff or was just making a dark commentary about the reality of the industry we work in (internet postings suck for conveying subtleties of language), but I will say I know people who joined/stayed at a place they weren't really happy with because the offer matched or exceeded their BATNA price.
I think we should have that self-reflective commentary about just how much money actually matters in relation to our ideals of "disruption" and "making the world a better place" (would you realistically take a 40k offer to do something truly altruistic after a few years of a SF salary?). Whether that's on-topic here, that's the are-the-downvotes-warranted question here.
FWIW, I think it was brave of Ms. Fowler to write this (most probably stay silent for fear of retribution).
I have no idea what her compensation package looks like, it doesn't really matter to the point I'm making.
My point was simply this: if you're waiting for your payout, you're keeping your mouth shut by not walking out. If you have some sort of serious ethical disagreement with your employer, you have to weigh how much you care about that to how much you will benefit from your future stock package.
If you say everything they're doing is incredibly evil and they need to be stopped, but you're waiting around for your $12 million payday, we figured out your price.
You can walk away from things with multiple zeros on the end. I've seen people do it. You might end up happier in the end. All depends on the situation.
The name "golden handcuffs" seems to imply that someone doesn't have a choice in the matter. They do. If you find yourself in one of the situations, don't forget that's an option.
> The name "golden handcuffs" seems to imply that someone doesn't have a choice in the matter.
"Golden handcuffs" to me is a beautiful phrase. It implies a fragile, beautiful piece of jewelry that is only superficially binding. To me, it's a euphemism for a personality test of do you chose ideals or sufficiently-high-enough material comfort.
These assholes can't get rich without you. Someone is going to win in this space. Why would you help it be them?
I'm pretty sure you can replace Uber in that sentence with "ride sharing".
A manager propositioned a new employee on her first day on his team -- asking not just for a date but for sex. That's way over the line.
Also, this isn't just a gendered thing -- Google the story of Keith Rabois resigning as COO of Square.
It's not a panacea, and there are several historical examples of union leadership betraying the trust of workers and neglecting the demands of the most marginalized members (such as the UAW in 1941), but a union correctly structured and rooted in worker solidarity is the only proven way to fight management on these kinds of issues.
I'm simplifying it a bit but if you don't like your job, just grab a copy of Cracking the Coding Interview and apply to big companies. The big companies pay very well, have good benefits and interview everyone because of the need for a high head count
I suggest you seek out other opinions if you believe tech workers are under-worked. Perhaps this is the case at your job, but the majority of tech workers I know and have worked with are tired of having to put in hours on nights, over the weekends, etc. They're tired of "unlimited vacation" policies not actually guaranteeing them any time to take a vacation. I've had a boss prevent me from leaving at 10PM once before. I mean its not exactly a new realization that many of the most trendy perks for tech companies are ruses to get workers to stay extra hours at the office, that tech companies pursuing the youngest workers often leads to a culture where there's little differentiation between work and company time, etc.
Not to mention that tech workers are often asked to do dubiously ethical things by management. We're asked to automate away the positions of other employees, asked to be lax on security or privacy standards, etc.
Whether or not you believe there are any demands to make, I kind of find it bizarre to suggest that workplace democracy is something tech workers shouldn't demand.
Who decides what is fair? You? Tech workers? Speaking about fairness as though it's objective or straight-forward isn't doing anyone any favors. Speaking generally, if employees aren't getting a fair deal, they should look for better jobs. If they can't find better jobs, they're getting a fair deal. There are certainly anti-competitive exceptions, but nothing posted so far suggests we're in such exceptional territory.
In an idealized market, yes. But given incidents like this, it seems like some employees must be being treated for more fairly than others -- which suggests there's no fairness at all.
The beauty of a union is there doesn't have to be an objective definition. A union gives you a democratic voice to advocate for what you think is fair. Without organized labor power, your voice is completely ignorable.
> Speaking generally, if employees aren't getting a fair deal, they should look for better jobs. If they can't find better jobs, they're getting a fair deal. There are certainly anti-competitive exceptions, but nothing posted so far suggests we're in such exceptional territory.
This is a completely naive understanding of what finding a job is like. Leaving a job can be a strike against a person in the hiring process, not to mention it consumes a lot of time, leaves someone uncompensated and without benefits during the process, etc. This also assumes engineer competency is something we can effectively gauge in the hiring process or otherwise (just search "hiring" on hacker news to get the general sentiment among engineers about how good we are at this).
Imagine if this was the suggestion given to factory workers and coal miners and the early 20th century (not that I think the worker conditions are comparable, but its illustrative of how naive it is to believe that market forces are sufficient for providing fair compensation). This is a marginalist's definition of "fair" that doesn't jive with any real human person's.
The real question is why you are so fervantly against having a democratic voice in the workplace.
Of course, it is natural for union officials to see themselves as benevolent godlike figures distributing goods to the plebes. But this particular plebe is doing just fine without you and would like to continue as long as possible without any unions.
And BTW guess what I found as looking up BT pensions on Google?
BT has second-worst funded pension scheme in the world
Are you sure you've told the members of your union about that? Who would be left holding the bag when this thing blows up? Would it be you, or would it be those thousands of people who got unfunded pension promises? Or would it be UK taxpayers who would be forced to pay for it?
On one valuation the BTPS is in surpluss
Oh and I am an activist not a full timer ;-)
I'm sure these people were very happy with their union reps, and their union reps were very proud of it. Until it turned out their pensions are unfunded. And now the taxpayers have to pay their pensions.
This is silly; non-union employees have a democratic voice and the ability to advocate for "what they think is fair", and their voices aren't completely ignorable or else everyone would make minimum wage.
Perhaps there is some gross advantage to collective bargaining, but unions (in the U.S. at least) seem to discourage productivity, competition, and common sense while fostering corruption. These costs drive employers toward automation or outsourcing, thereby eliminating the very jobs they purport to protect. In my view, the cost of unionizing is too high for all but the most extreme circumstances.
> This is a completely naive understanding of what finding a job is like. Leaving a job can be a strike against a person in the hiring process, not to mention it consumes a lot of time, leaves someone uncompensated and without benefits during the process, etc. This also assumes engineer competency is something we can effectively gauge in the hiring process or otherwise (just search "hiring" on hacker news to get the general sentiment among engineers about how good we are at this).
You're conflating efficiency with fairness. Also, there's no need for an employee to quit before beginning to look for another job.
> Imagine if this was the suggestion given to factory workers and coal miners and the early 20th century (not that I think the worker conditions are comparable, but its illustrative of how naive it is to believe that market forces are sufficient for providing fair compensation). This is a marginalist's definition of "fair" that doesn't jive with any real human person's.
See my previous statement about exceptional circumstances, and take care not to confuse a depressed economy with unfair allocation of resources (although both a shrunken economy and anti-competitive practices contributed to poor conditions during the Great Depression). Maybe market forces alone aren't enough to guarantee fair distribution, but your analogy doesn't demonstrate as much.
> The real question is why you are so fervantly against having a democratic voice in the workplace.
This isn't my position, so I'm not sure how to answer your question... It sounds like you're conflating unionization with "having a democratic voice in the workplace"?
Even if this we take this for granted, its completely untrue that all unions commoditize a trade by flattening pay. There are plenty of unions that have chosen not to put standardized salaries in contracts or have advocated tiered salary agreements or merit pay. Whether or not these are good things, they are things that unions have done and should dispel with the notion that unions are inflexible towards these concerns by workers.
As for your concern that unions "force employers to do things", well I suggest you consider all of the ways your employer can coerce you to do things and whether you actually have a mutualistic relationship. Many workers don't feel that they do.
...which hardly can be said to be acting in the best interests of either small-time musicians or big stars.
The RIAA actively seeks to withhold royalties from musicians and intentionally makes it very difficult to collect them. A number of big-name stars sued them over this some years back, unsuccessfully.
Unions were reinforced by the NLRA to enable workers to bargain collectively. That can mean a lot of things
A union for software engineers is a blank slate. It hasn't been done before. It could be anything someone makes of it.
The problem is that if I had stayed there for thirty years, I would have been pretty much guaranteed to make good money. By changing jobs a couple times, I made that same money in 2. So... people who are capable of getting better jobs and willing to risk change simply left, while people looking for stability or who had trouble getting jobs simply stayed. This didn't lead to the type of environment that I enjoyed working in. Your mileage may vary.
I happen to agree that, relative to other industries, we're overpaid and get to live pretty lavishly for the little sacrifice that working on building systems with code entails.
That said, when you look at the value we generate for the people we work for, and remember how we are necessary to their wealth generation, I think it's worth having a conversation about organizing.
Also, it sets their BATNA as well - how much value they miss out on while working on replacing you.
Ah I never thought about that.
I don't really get what you mean with respect to more money to get freelancers and such. Isn't the compensation of freelancers directly related to how much they would have to pay employees anyway? After all, I can only assume that if it's significantly cheaper to hire an employee, they would do so.
I would have thought too that freelancers have some special skillsets, which make them less easy to find, and thus less replaceable as well, but I don't have any data to back that up.
Right now, companies like Uber can treat workers poorly -- apparently at a policy/organizational level even -- because the only thing they feel they have to fear is a bit of bad PR. No one has these workers' backs. HR is concerned with protecting the company. And the workers likely don't have the time, money nor stamina to fight a huge corporation with a lawsuit.
That's why workers need to band together to look out for one another. The deck is already stacked against them.
Doctors do not have professional organizations or unions representing them.
The AMA is frequently mis-cited by people not familiar with the industry as a union, but it's not one at all. Only 25% of doctors are members of the AMA (most of them only because they require licenses to CPT codes, which the AMA has a monopoly over) and the AMA does not advocate for physicians' interests.
In no meaningful sense does the AMA "represent" doctors at large.
The British Medical Association certainly claims to be a trade union.
And they have engaged in collective action - e.g. the junior doctors strike.
As a student member of the AMA, I can attest that they aren't the most effective organization, but they do plenty to further physician interests.
I think what you're likely getting at is how heterogenous physician interests are considering each specialty.
The AMA sometimes does things that align with doctors' interests, but only incidentally. It's allegiance is to itself as an institution, not to doctors, and it will further its own interests over doctors' every time the two collide.
As one example listed upthread, they advocate increasing the supply of physicians to lower physician salaries, which is directly against doctors' interests but in line with their own. Similarly, their stranglehold over CPT codes undeniably harms physicians and places them under even more control of payers' interests, but because it provides the AMA with a monopoly stream of revenue, the AMA clutches to it.
> I think what you're likely getting at is how heterogenous physician interests are considering each specialty.
I wasn't, but incidentally, that's the exact problem that unions do have. The leadership has the incentive to throw minority group interests under the bus in order to appease the majority of its membership. Closed shops (the AMA would not be one) are the most ruthless, because the only alternative their members have is to find employment in another industry altogether.
That being said, maybe sticking with state organizations might be a more fruitful endeavor.
Additionally, while physicians are a heterogenous bunch, there are many issues that almost all physicians agree with. Use the AMA to collectively lobby for those, and stick to the specialty organizations to push for more individual issues.
Physicians seem to have collectively decided that there aren't enough of those to justify the drawbacks of unionizing.
Even though we earn good wages, its relatively easy to see that workers are not often reaping the benefits of surplus value and have no ability to weigh in on determinations of how that value is allocated. More importantly, the advantages of a union are not limited to being able to negotiate a better salary, there are lots of workplace conditions that can be pretty oppressive in the tech industry, and unions offer the ability to improve all of them.
People see the sticker price of things and do some napkin math, but I'd be willing to bet in most cases, if that employee were to make the product on their own (with no help or resources or existing customers), they would not be able to make the same amount of money because they would have to face "new company" risks and statistics. That is pretty bleak.
Given how much money these companies make directly off of our work, and given the prevalence of death marches across the industry, I cannot take this position seriously.
They seemed to be there only to defend the boss and register me as a complainer. It took me several jobs and this post to learn that.
The thing you need to keep in mind about HR is this: they aren't there to help you, to have your back. They're there to protect the company from you. Incidental to that, they've traditionally managed the benefits the company is either required or chooses to give you, and acts as a place for you to take concerns such as sexual harassment. But even in those cases, their duty is to the company, not to any individual employee.
> How does one protect oneself in cases of sexual impropriety then?
Document, document, document. Not because you're going to sue, but because this is rarely a 1-off situation and when the class action comes around you will be prepared with ammunition.
When an employees places a complaint against another employee, neither of those parties is "the company", even when one is in management. If the subject of the complaint is breaking laws, HR (who has the company's back) is rightfully incentivized to show that person the door. That person is a liability, and the company will have to pay if it is sued for that individual's behavior.
If you're running the HR to mediate a personal fight, sure, there's a decent chance they'll side with the person with more organizational clout. But if you're bringing to light evidence of legal wrongdoing, HR is _absolutely_ supposed to be on your side. The company needs to know that, and protecting the company looks like firing the offending party.
Which is exactly what happens... When the harasser is not a 'Top performer' in a culture that claims to reward meritocracy.
I think what's good for me, if I'm a hard worker, is also good for the company.
Certainly I'm my best advocate. Even a union couldn't do everything for me.
Arranging the paperwork to ensign then arranging the paperwork to resign.
Forwarding some more paperwork for taxes, HMRC, benefits, pension and various things that pop up at times.
Arranging interviews, candidates feedback loop, on-site events, university recruiting events, some conferences, offers, etc...
Maybe I just have better than you guys.
Software engineering hiring practices are profoundly flawed; this is something a union could address at an industry level. It's also deeply problematic for me to take home $fat_paycheck when, say, $sales_guy two tables over is paid minimum wage + commission (disclaimer: I have no knowledge of this occurring at my current company; it happened to a sales guy I know, however). A company of people work together, and should share in the returns as they cover each other's deficiencies.
I'm comfortable asserting that while there are issues with traditional unions, it's possible to improve and make better organizations.
This is not an economically rational way to behave, so it's not sustainable for a company to do this and keep talent for high market-value positions. People are compensated based on the minimum required to get them to join and stay at the company, so their compensation is going to be driven by the market value of people with their skills.
Very small companies may be able to afford to pay every employee the cost of a principle software engineer (or whatever the highest position they have is), but this falls apart extremely quickly if the company needs lots of customer support positions or lots of sales people. They end up having to cut compensation to all of the high-end positions and subsequently lose anyone good enough to get jobs that pay market rate.
The majority of companies don't have the profit margins to throw away an extra $100,000 or whatever it takes per employee annually to pay everyone the top position market rate.
>It's also deeply problematic for me to take home $fat_paycheck
What do you say to people that spend years of their life getting advanced degrees in math/physics/CS/whatever that make them experts in the subject matter the company is working on? "That sounds hard, here's the same paycheck as the undergrad working next to you who knows almost nothing in the field."
There's no reason one person who contributes one thing gets to scrape by and one person who contributes another gets to live like a prince. Sales pay the bills of SW devs; SW devs make what Sales sells. Both should be comfortably compensated.
First they need articulable set of goals, based on a sound principled base. With such a base, to unionize or not is an implementation detail. But a union without guiding principles would be exactly the morally bankrupt negotiation tool unions are often accused of being. A union should never be more important to the unionized than the ideals it implements. Because if it ever is, the workers no longer control the union, the union controls the workers.
To that point, I have yet to see "tech" at large, or even software engineers seriously discuss principles for the purpose of a principled professional life. I hear complaints about individual things that are negative on the face have moralistic reasoning applied after the fact. But no guiding vision.
Just like we assume the people in movies poop  even though we never see it, an "obviously" unacceptable thing happening leads to have conversations resting on unspoken assumptions that someone solved what a professional environment is off-screen. If we want demands for what a work environment should be like to be taken seriously, we have to figure it out. Upfront, on-screen, and to create something people can believe in.
to combat this kind of thing
fight management on these kinds of issues.
Can you articulate what the KIND of issues are? The category can easily be labeled with synonyms for "bad" and easily have things like a misogynistic work environment placed within the category, but WHAT IS the category. What are the defining lines?
If every developer took the time to figure out what they believe in, or adopted the (e.g.) ACM Code to their professional life, it might not even take a union.
Thats why the IWW exists, and they desperately need members. They refuse to cooperate with big business and government, and are based on decentralized worker solidarity and principles of direct action, not the capture of state power. If a union derives its power from the state, it is easily corrupted and subverted.
If they want more members, they might want to tone down the "militant" imagery. I'm uncomfortable being associated with that.
People hear the term "union" and they think "shop rules" and "union contract salary". There's no reason that's what has to happen. Substitute "professional association" for "union" and you've got all the degrees of freedom you could want for us all to profit from organization without over-complicating our work lives.
The problem is that a significant number of the people who push "unions" (especially on places like HN) are actually trying to push for those things. Just look in this thread to find people arguing over whether there actually are large differences in developer performance.
If people want a professional association (I do!) let's call it that and avoid all this union talk. Think lawyers, not factories.
A professional association by contrast does not work to help workers in a workplace dispute. It is fundamentally an advocacy group for the profession itself and works to advance it by creating professional standards, lobbying, offering education and certification, etc. The AMA for example, does not engage in collective bargaining with the management of a hospital and has no legal right to compel such a thing under the NLRA. The AMA does however lobby politicians and puts its people on medical boards to limit the supply of doctors. Furthermore a professional organization works at the level of a single profession and doesn't organize workplaces in strikes, which is the major power of a union.
Unions can aggregate under federations that often resemble and provide the same function as professional associations, but a professional association provides almost none of the benefits of a union.
I've had a fairly thorough knowledge of salaries at many companies I've worked for (currently the founder of my own company) and I'm not sure what your point is. There was absolutely a large variation in salary and it clearly correlated with two factors: performance and negotiation ability. Why exactly do you think employers pay some engineers so much money? Out of the goodness of their hearts? It's due to measurable impact and differences. I've been places where I was producing more than the rest of the team in half the hours (I was in school at the time).
Your arguments about collective bargaining are precisely why I don't want a union. I sure as hell don't want you (or anyone else) bargaining for me or being tied to any generic salary formula. It's hard for me to imagine that if things were done democratically most engineers would vote for me to make what I do.
In fact, if anything I think top developers are underpaid in most of the industry. Outside certain organizations and areas, it's hard to break $200k as a developer—even when a senior developer can easily be 2x as effective as a new grad making $100k.
Also, to be clear, the current system is better for probably the whole upper half of engineers. It's not just elite performers who would see cuts if we moved to salary formulas. The problem I see is that humans have a well-documented tendency to hurt themselves if it means they can "punish" others as well: I can people voting for a $100k mandatory salary (while they're making $110k) just to spite me for making $200k.
You seem to believe there are separate stratifications of tech workers that do not have shared interests. Even though I pretty strongly disagree, you're in luck, a union is still what you want. You want a craft union that recognizes something like "senior engineers" as a collective bargaining unit. As long as you can justify that you constitute a real unit with a shared "community of interest" to the NLRB, you can still collectively bargain only with other senior engineers.
This is a common misconception.
The AMA does not limit the supply of doctors. The AAMC (used to) limit the supply of doctors, but (a) they have been trying for the last 10+ years to increase that, and (b) the actual number of practicing physicians is bottlenecked by funding for residency positions, which is funded by Medicare, not the AMA or AAMC. The AMA has actually lobbied to increase funding for GME, which would increase the supply of practicing physicians.
The AMA does not represent doctors in any meaningful sense - only 25% of physicians belong to the AMA, and only because membership is required for licensing the CPT codes that those doctors need for billing. The AMA does not consistently advocate for physicians' best interests, and in the last couple of decades, it has actually consistently sided against physicians' best interests.
At one point the AMA had about 75% of American doctors as members but has declined for various reasons (growth of specialty professional associations, change of employment in which many doctors have gone from private practices to hospitals which has accompanied a change in political objectives, etc.). The AMA probably does still serve as a professional association in the interest of some segment of doctors, but I take your point that it definitely don't work for doctors writ large. This is actually a good example of why professional associations can be inadequate, because they fundamentally are limited to advocacy for a profession instead of working for gains for a workplace.
...twenty years ago, when we had the opposite problem. It still wasn't some act motivated by the desire to benefit doctors, even if that's the PR spin they used.
> At one point the AMA had about 75% of American doctors as members but has declined for various reasons (growth of specialty professional associations, change of employment in which many doctors have gone from private practices to hospitals which has accompanied a change in political objectives, etc.)
The move away from private practices was not the driving force behind the declining membership of the AMA. Quite bluntly, doctors stopped joining (unless they were forced to) because they did not support the AMA or its objectives. Why pay money to an organization that fights for causes you oppose?
Of course, this is only possible because (most) doctors are not required to be AMA members or pay membership fees if they choose not to, which is not true of people in most unions.
> The AMA probably does still serve as a professional association in the interest of some segment of doctors,
It does - it acts in the interest of the subset of doctors who are serving in administrative roles and are no longer practicing medicine full-time. That is to say, they advocate the interests of hospitals and payers, not practicing physicians.
> This is actually a good example of why professional associations can be inadequate,
It's not that they're "inadequate". It's that, in this case, they are literally fighting against the interests of the group they are (allegedly) advocating.
So really, the AMA is an argument against either professional associations or unions - doctors are unhappy with the AMA, and you certainly don't see them, by and large, advocating unionization in their practices en masse.
Some don't. Some do.
I am currently a member of one that does, up to and including litigating a case is appropriate.
However a professional association is effectively limited in what it can do in a labor dispute because management has no obligation to collectively bargain with them, hence this is not really the purpose of professional associations.
It's easy to say they could be anything we want it to be, but I'm not sure there's a real consensus on any particular principle.
Lots of people who talk about unions seem to value privacy protections for consumers, but there are clearly software developers writing this software who have a different view.
Ubers reputation has been trash for almost as long as Uber has existed, I feel like most people are there to get rich, do you expect those people to go on strike for a grievance that doesn't affect them?
A union is what gives you the ability confront management about these kinds of things.
It's a heinously stupid regulation, and it's one which was lobbied for heavily by the tech industry to reduce labor costs. But that is the federal law of the US currently, which means yes you can be required to perform unpaid overtime.
Hah hah, very cute. A trivial proof that this claim is false: H-1B.
Indentured H-1B visa workers have absolutely zero leverage. American software developers are constantly reminded that if they don't behave and do what they're told that their jobs will be outsourced or they'll be replaced by H-1B workers. I say this as an ex-H-1B holder, who left the US six years ago for Australia (where I'm now a citizen).
Young American programmers will do well to read Norman Matloff's blog at https://normsaysno.wordpress.com/ where he exhaustively documents the abuse of American IT workers and ask themselves how they plan to make a living after the age of 40.
If you believe that H1-B employees are abused in software development shops, that's all the more reason to organize.
Think of the most scutwork of scutwork programming jobs in the industry, or even quasi-programming quasi-IT jobs like, I don't know, Sharepoint administrator at a regional insurance carrier or line programmer at a university (where most projects are "execute a SQL query to get a list of students in a particular course then, and this is the hard part, display it on a web page"). Tata doesn't simply manufacture billions of dollars in services revenue; actual companies pay them actual money to outsource work. Actual companies also pay actual money for Tata to send 6k engineers at $75k apiece to the US. That's like half-a-Google worth of engineers; add in Infosys and you approach a full Google, except at something like 30 cents on the dollar.
AppAmaGooBookSoft consume the H1B program in an entirely different fashion and Tata is more-or-less orthogonal to the startup world. You can fashion a career in software which never touches the ecosystem that Tata is a part of. You can also fashion a career in software which never touches AppAmaGooBookSoft, startups, or software development shops. These two worlds are separated by a titanic gulf in conditions and expectations, and transferring between them is difficult, for much the same reasons as transferring between social classes is difficult. This does not mean that either of the two worlds does not factually exist.
You might never have been explicitly threatened with "We can trivially replace you with cheaper foreign labor." You might not even know anyone who has been, depending on who you generally hang out with. I have been in the room when that threat was made, and (because life is hilarious!) I was the literal face of the threat.
What I don't acknowledge is that the parts of the industry that aren't offshored are suddenly going to become offshored as a reaction to labor organization. The idea that strikers will be replaced with H1-Bs is a hollow threat.
Of course that would never happen. All American business executives and outsourcing agencies only act with unimpeachable integrity and the highest ethical standards.
(Wait, what is the original subject of this thread again...)
I repeat, for all American programmers under the age of 35, read https://normsaysno.wordpress.com/ to see how your careers are being systematically undermined by your own industry and political leaders. Then make alternative career plans for when you're 40+. You'll thank me later.
Your alternative careers plans can and should be the possibility of retirement.
It is extremely possible as a software engineer to save enough to retire by the time you're 35.
I had no idea about any of this stuff until I started talking to the Tech Solidarity people. I'd always thought the reason nobody goes on strike is that you'd simply be fired for doing so. But, no! That was dumb of me! Striking --- really, most forms of employee protest against working conditions --- is protected federally.
I'm particularly interested in how these laws interact with the employment laws for salaried workers. In addition to it being unlawful (in most cases) to fire an employee for striking, it's also (usually) legally risky to dock a salaried employee's pay.
People should, of course, talk to labor lawyer before organizing. Tech Solidarity is working with several now, and collecting employment contracts from the best-known tech companies in order to provide standardized organizing advice.
Again, talk to a lawyer. I think you're going to find that you are not in fact required to convince the Trump administration of your rights.
I also learned about this from the Tech Solidarity people. The key here though is that actions are only protected if they're taken collectively by multiple employees. A single employee protesting can still be fired without recourse.
It is also totally true that you are not squeaky clean in your employment (never been late once? Never missed a deadline?), and that your performance management targets are set by the people against whom you are protesting. You can be performance managed out of a position in months, even if your right to protest is protected and you are literally a Saint in the workplace.
I'm not saying it's right, just that I've seen it done. There is always a way to remove "difficult" employees regardless of protection laws.
I'm not saying it's right, just that it's true.
1. The protest has to involve more than one team member, and depending on circumstances that other person possibly can't be a manager.
2. The protest has to be defensibly about some kind of working conditions issue. You need a concrete, defensible ask.
3. You can in fact have your pay docked for not working, though you (probably) can't be fired. But remember, you're an FLSA exempt employee (if you're a developer), so you can make it difficult for them to dock your pay, too.
I probably wouldn't make the protest about higher wages.
Many IT roles already fall under collective bargaining units (CBU), particularly in the public sector.
If stories like Susan's become common, and there is blatant gender discrimination, then the Government will have no choice but to acknowledge a private-sector CBU and Union.
I'm also curious if there are any historical examples of "white collar" workers unionizing.
If you're interested in learning more about how to do this, I suggest you look into one of the following orgs:
- Tech Workers Coalition (https://techworkerscoalition.org/) based in the Bay Area who holds a monthly organizing meeting in SF
- Tech Solidarity (https://techsolidarity.org), which has been holding meetings in a bunch of metropolitan areas for educating tech workers about organizing
Their problem is that this visa exists. My problem is getting naturalised. Our incentives are not aligned and they've made that clear.
I want no part of it and I will actively participate in union busting to the greatest of my ability for this reason.
I don't think you can achieve greater than 2% penetration amongst employed engineers and I know that your system will threaten the 1.7% of engineers who are H1B workers. I think I'm in a reasonable position here and I'm not about to weaken myself. And I think everyone else is going to work through the same calculus.
Sorry, it's not you. It's who are likely going to be your comrades.
Maybe we have different perspectives on how popular the anti-immigrant position is in tech (and how many neo-reactionary/dark enlightenment dipshits there are), I guess I'd just ask that you keep an open mind about this and make a decision if and when workers approach you to join a union. I certainly wouldn't knock you for opposing a group that doesn't have your interests at heart, but the union I want to form would take solidarity seriously and would explicitly go to bat for women, people of color, lgbtqia people, disabled people, and immigrants.
I would advise any other immigrant reading that if they are approached by union representatives to demand a clause guaranteeing permanent residence reform and removal of the 7% limit before any anti-H1B action is taken. In the absence of this clause, all Indian and Chinese workers (at the least, and everyone probably) are placing themselves at risk of deportation.
Refusal to add such a clause or delay in doing so is evidence of actively undermining your interests.
Ouch. Was that choice of word deliberate?
He should have been fired the day that surfaced. If someone who worked for me ever did something like that, they'd be out the door pronto. It speaks volumes that he wasn't, to the point which I am irrationally tempted to doubt the veracity of her claims.
Don't proposition anyone in your reporting chain. Don't flirt with them. Don't do anything with them. It's really not that complicated. If you are attracted to someone who works for you (it happens), do the adult thing and ignore it.
Talk to HR (or your boss), get them (or you) a new team/manager.
Or if the feelings go away, then great, crisis averted, but it's rarely that simple.
I also disagree with the notion that it'll show eventually. Usually if you consciously suppress them they'll go away pretty quickly.
> do the adult thing and ignore it.
Screw Uber. Just delete that app and never use it.
An UberX costs $24.30 right now and UberPool costs $14.30 right now. Additionally, I can summon the ride more easily and get better feedback about the arrival time, giving me more confidence/less anxiety that I'll have a problem getting to the airport on time.
As a consumer, by reducing my cost by 50-70% while providing a marginally better service, I can readily find one thing positive to say about the company.
It may even be viewed as a plus, influencing an American company to adopt Saudi values.
Meaning, more ethical investors (also known as: Board Members) might say "We need to do something about this."
any investor or board member whonis aware of the type of activity mentioned by OP would shut it down fast. their first responsibility is to protect the company, especially one about to go public, and that doesn't happen when you're getting sued repeatedly for hostile work environment and/or sexual harassment.
VC's aren't trying for all of their portfolio companies to be profitable - they're trying to fund 1 company that is going to be uber profitable. There's a saying from the dot com investment days - you either invested in Google or you didn't.
If your only concern is the sticker price, then that is a ethical choice that you're certainly entitled to make, but that also necessarily involves a choice not to account for what goes into that sticker price (parallels with e.g. Walmart), and thus is a pretty limited principle. Possibly limited to the degree that it is actually merely self-serving.
They've raised over $10B...
Just to take one example, Uber doesn't pay the same taxes as taxi companies. Localities will be losing out collectively on a lot of revenue. Aren't you affected if your city has to raise taxes to compensate?
Uber is proving that car service is not a natural monopoly. If the dominant provider is taking too many liberties with pricing, someone else will come in to right the market.
I didn't intend to start a massive defense of Uber subthread, but to say there's no single thing positive about Uber I thought was a substantial overstatement.
This is complete nonsense. Car services have never been a monopoly, natural or otherwise; in every major city there have always been multiple car services. Uber's valuation is premised almost completely on the hope/expectation that they can become a monopoly and start exploiting their market position to the detriment of everyone.
Seriously, check out the Naked Capitalism series linked above. It lays out in great detail why Uber is not in any way an example of someone "coming in to right the market". They're wronging the market.
Uber is losing money, believing they can make it up later somehow (presumably self-driving cars, possibly by taking a cut of a substantial percentage of the car service rides).
That's participating in the market, not wronging it, IMO.
As soon as Uber tries to become a monopoly, and raise prices, then Taxi cabs can start right back up again, and take back the market with lower prices.
Or ANOTHER VC company can come in, and subsidize prices, and knock Uber out.
As soon as Uber attempts to exploit the market, they are dead.
Except the twenty gazillion dollars you need to get started anyway, and the fifty ga-jillion dollar incumbent you're stacked against who already, again, has leveraged their death grip on the market -- which is presumably why you were becoming a competitor at all, right? To fight that?
The comparison with YouTube doesn't work, because videos are not fungible. If there's a video you want to see, and that video is on YouTube, your choice is to use YouTube or not see it. If there's a place you want to go, you can use any transportation service that covers the area.
I'm having trouble thinking of a good comparison, because there aren't many markets that are this easy to enter. Maybe house cleaning would fit. If Homejoy had taken off, would there be any fear of it abusing a monopoly position, when anyone can trivially enter the market and compete on their level?
It'd probably be leases, rather than sales - selling property gives the buyer more rights, which would make that sort of EULA problematic. Might be able to side-step it by a combination of forbidding commercial ride-sharing in order to keep the self-driving system up to date along with requiring up-to-date self-driving software to be road-legal.
If one company refuses to sell self driving cars to consumers/upstart ride sharing companies, then that means that ANOTHER self driving car company can makes 10s of billions of dollars by ignoring this rule.
Do you really think that not a single one of the multitude of self driving car companies would break the collusion agreement, if there is 10s of billions of dollars on the line?
As long as the middle-class now can afford taxis on a regular basis, and the offer of drivers is in an all-time high, with better control of driver and passenger identities, then it's an economical plus for the society. Of course there's Lyft and Grab too.
I think overall the experience of taking a taxi is not going to change that much, but there's going to be a big repricing when Uber runs out of loss-leader. I imagine the dream is for inflation to absorb most of that by the time the axe falls, but uber/lyft/taxi pricing across the board will have to find an equilibrium. Or differentiators.
Generally this behavior is not curbed already because it's hard to prove price fixing without having concrete information about the communication. Technically you don't need to have communication, but it's hard.
Sometimes all you need is one new vendor to enter the market place and not play by the old rules.
Is there anyone that thought a manager asking their subordinate for sex isn't harassment?
I have not knowledge or experience in this area, so to me it looks you'd either have to use very vulgar language, do it repeatedly after being told it is unwanted or basically have negative intention. Else it's just an odd thing to do at workplace.
Note, I am asking this as genuinely curious foreigner from very un-PC culture. Not trying to be annoying or anything like that.
Apparently, when the both persons are already in a romantic relationship, or are spouses (which can happen in a family business) it's not harassment. Thus, whether such offer is harassment or not is based on a subjective judgement of each party, rather than some hard-coded rule. In the case described by the author it was clearly harassment because one party perceived it so.
Even when it's not harassment and wanted by both parties, it still can be undesirable from a professional ethics perspective as it can affect morale of other employees. So it leaves very few cases when it's acceptable, but they do exist.
Even if the boss asks politely, the subordinate knows that their job -- and likely their financial stability -- ultimately depends on making the boss happy...
Are they really so much above typical Bay Area rates?
> Career path? Career security?
Plenty of people are still hiring in the current bubble, and she's an SRE, not an auto specialist or something.
Like the one who dropped his pants?
> The early belief that HR would help correct this?
Of which she was quickly disabused.
But I agree with you that we should be training people to detect bullshit early on and to just get the fuck out in those situations. Labeling her actions as rational and healthy is probably not helpful either.
Ask some women about this post, and listen to what they tell you. Don't argue, just absorb.
Would I have quit? You bet. But you have to understand that my freedom to do so is conditioned by a few assumptions:
1) I have the financial freedom to quit.
2) Working conditions are appreciably better at competing companies.
3) I'm able to land another job with comparable pay.
4) Quitting won't have negative repercussions on my future career.
Can you say, unequivocally, that all these conditions (and more) are met for her? I can't. Nobody knows that but Susan.
I understand you don't mean to, but you're coming awfully close to blaming the victim. Her quitting would have done nothing to change the environment except to reinforce the culture further, and we have no window into her personal reasons for staying. The point that everyone in this subthread keeps harping on is that they are not at all relevant. Period.
That she stayed is completely immaterial. That's -- legally -- her choice. The fact that, by choosing to stay employed, she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment and misogyny is as deplorable as it is illegal.
My read of this is that most on this thread would say that it would be commendatory for her to stay and fight for change, but 100% ethical for her either to stay in her situation hoping for improvement or leave for a better place to be, and that in her shoes they would opt for the latter.
To me this would not meet the plain language meaning of 'blaming the victim', but I recognize that plain language is not always so plain. I would like to better understand if it is victim blaming and, if not, if there are ways you know of to communicate the distinction being drawn above well. If it is, could you highlight what makes it so? Obviously it is not your responsibility to help me learn to communicate, but I would appreciate it if you did.
And just to make sure it's clear: the behavior of the other employees mentioned is illegal and unbelievably unethical, and I am not in any way condoning or making excuses for it.
People who say "Well I would have left" when they hear a story of abuse are missing the point entirely. By focusing on what they would have done in the victim's place, they're re-framing the event as somehow the victim's choice and thus, at least partially the victim's fault.
That is a form of victim blaming. Full stop.
Focus on the abuse. Leave the victim out of it. Without context, you can't know what you'd do in the same situation. As I noted, if I -- a white, well-to-do male with no debts and no professional entanglements -- suffered that type of abuse, I would have left. But that's irrelevant, because she's not me. To say that she should have left, or that she was "irrational" for not doing so is to make a mountain of assumptions about her situation.
As noted in TFA, she was young, on a sponsored scholarship, and in the middle of writing a book. To switch jobs immediately could have had lasting career implications, cost her an education, and ruined her ability to finish the book. Surely those considerations weighed on her decision to stick it out.
Without insight into her personal affairs, we can't know how much pressure she felt to stay in the job in spite of the abusive environment. Ultimately, whether she left or not is totally immaterial.
I can see how the statement that it was irrational of her to stay makes potentially invalid assumptions. It seems appropriate to me to asterisk that with something like "if my boss did this to me I'd leave", which I suppose is how I was reading the earlier statements anyways.
Having said that, the amended statement seems innocuous to me and could be read positively ("I wouldn't be as tough as she is in this situation"). Reading the rest of your response it seems this kind of what-if is the core of the issue to you. Is that correct?
Now, if what you want to say is "I wouldn't be as tough as she is...", then simply go for it. It's still irrelevant, but can at least be construed as supportive to the victim.
The original statement -- that she was "irrational" for staying -- cannot, and is wildly inappropriate.
I think I understand what you're saying, but that's a pretty extreme stance and one that I don't agree with. You seem to be saying that a person's actions and decisions can not possibly have any effect on the situation, simply because the situation is undesirable and because the person is a victim. That view removes any notion of agency in the person in question. It removes the acknowledgement of free will and offends the dignity of the individual as an architect of their life. It's a kind of extreme infantilization.
Now, before you're led to believe that I'm advocating some kind of honor killing of adulterers, let me assure you that I absolutely am not. I find that extreme to be completely abhorrent and void of reason. From my vantage point, I believe that I'm standing precisely in the middle of the two extremes, being careful not to fall into the trap of either view.
Now, some victims share more of the blame for their situation than others. But without any insight into their reasons for tolerating abuse, it's presumptuous to assume someone has total agency to change their circumstances. She did some calculus and concluded that the costs to leave were steeper than staying.
That was her choice but, as I've said a half dozen times already, it's completely irrelevant. If I'm mugged, it's no less a crime if I also happen to be black or gay or in the "wrong" part of town. Regardless of her reasons for staying, what happened was wrong, and no person should be forced to make the choice she did.
If you're mugged, the crime is a crime by the very definition of a crime. Since you seem to think that I'm an idiot, I'll point out that the victim's identity doesn't play into the definition of a crime. The mugger deserves to be punished according to the laws that we've agreed on as a society, and this is true whether you're a purple Martian or a lizard person.
But none of that has anything to do with the fact that it was your actions that brought you into the situation. Only you have the power to be where you are. Whether you were ignorant of there being a mugger down the street is irrelevant to the fact that it was you who walked there. It's not an extreme statement, upon hearing that you were mugged, to suggest that you avoid that street from now on, to try a different route, and be more vigilant in the future. It's not an extreme thing to say that it's unwise to go down the same street again.
You're twisting my words into making it sound as if I'm saying that a mugging never occurred, or that mugging is not a crime.
- Because she's loyal to her co-workers
- Maybe still not jaded enough to jump ship at the first reason
- quite possibly didn't have another job lined up to jump ship to
A year isn't all that long, and if things had been turned around who knows she might still be working there today. Obviously they have not, things have gone rapidly downhill so she made the right choice in abandoning Uber but you really can't fault someone for trying to fix things before they give up.
There were multiple articles on HN relating to the Uber offers and contracts, which showed they gave terrible conditions and dangerous traps.
By the way, she said in the article that she was doing a CS degree, sponsored by Uber, and they retracted the grant at the last minute.
She had sponsorship in a graduate program at a great school. Eventually this was allegedly ruined in a retroactive performance review change. It seems like it was roughly a few weeks after that when she left.
People are always having to weigh risk and adversity against reward. This is why the power dynamic between superiors and subordinates is such a huge factor in company HR policies and it's taken so seriously; from corporate US to the military. The situations that can arise can be quite complicated and messy.
That's such a meaningless thing for an HR person to ask someone, that it clearly only serves to be patronising and hopefully stop them bringing problems up. I mean, how could you as an HR staffer possibly justify your inaction with an argument like that?
"We didn't act on any of their complaints, as we noticed that in all the cases of harassment that they reported, they were the victim in all of them!"
"HR serves to protect the company"
In a reputable company, HR will pass the message higher up (probably off the record), and a manager will look at the evidence and make a good judgment. In this case, the evidence is clear, the manager should have been fired, and the employee given a sincere (but not in writing) apology and compensation.
Note that HR is a legal role. HR will never advise an employee to consider filing a lawsuit against the company, but instead dissuade the employee by saying that there isn't good evidence, it was an honest mistake, he has a family to feed, try to work with someone else. The saying exists because advice from HR is not in the employee's best interest.
Yes. It's also human psychology. See the church sex abuse scandals. The morality that people claim to have is less important than protecting the group.
The same thing applies to HR. The HR person who shuts down an accuser is doing it in order to protect their position in the hierarchy, and to protect the people in the hierarchy that they know. The fact that it's illegal, and can very well destroy the company is completely irrelevant.
In these cases, short-term focus is more important than long term goals.
While it's true HR is there for protect the company it's false to say that if a complainant just "goes away" that the problem is solved. HR also has to ensure the company keeps a good culture, avoids lawsuits and stays a great place to work for the majority to ensure talent is not only attracted but kept.
Thinking about ignoring or making complaints just go away isn't protecting the company. It's literally harming the company and its employees.
Not if they go on to write a blog post that reaches the top of HN.
HR, done ethically and applied consistently, protects both the company and the employees. It makes clear what is acceptable, and what isn't. And it makes clear what is expected of each employee in general.
I'm not in the Valley, so all the information I have about Uber's culture is through popular media, but ever since I first heart the company's name it was linked to scandal, poor ethics and/or misogyny.
Talented software developers are a privileged bunch, especially on the West Coast U.S. we are sought after and can pick and choose employers. Why would anyone choose Uber, especially a talented woman?
Do SW devs just not realize how much power and choice they have? Or do people really just choose to work for unethical businesses because they expect a good paycheck? If it's the latter, what does that say about their own personal ethics?
To be clear, I don't honestly believe the majority of Uber's staff are bad people. But that leaves me genuinely baffled as to what they are doing there in the first place.
I used to work for a company that mistreated me (no, they didn't pay me well either). Getting out felt like getting out of an abusive relationship, and I stayed as long as I did for the same reasons people stay in abusive relationships: I thought I was worthless and that no other company would hire me.
Before that company, I had been unemployed for two years thanks to the combination of the financial crisis and my own lack of experience. When I interviewed with them, I was ready to end it if I didn't get an offer because my extended unemployment had just run out. Thankfully, I got the offer, and I wound up working there for 2.75 years before I got out.
I believed that I had to stick with them because they gave me an offer when I was broke, desperate, and suicidal. As the problems kept piling up and piling up, I stayed because I was too afraid to put myself out there because I felt like I was a worthless person and deserved a company that would treat me like the worthless person I am.
Eventually, things got so bad that I applied to several companies at once in a fit of rage, and one of them got back to me with a coding test, then a phone interview, then an in-person interview, and finally an offer, at which point I had the pleasure of putting my notice on my boss's desk.
It's been over two years since I got out, and I'm glad for it. The company I jumped ship to ended up not working out in the long run -- a little over a year in, I got caught up in a layoff that took out 1/3 of the company -- but I eventually landed at my current job, which is by far and above the best company I've worked for, and I'm really glad I'm here and not still stuck at that abusive place.
Uber came with its black cars. No one bothered. But Uber came with UberX and then Uber pool. It was a revolution, 50% cheaper. It exploded. The taxi market was/is dominated by corruption, with its medallions monopoly. Capitalism worked.
But capitalism dont stop working when Uber is winning. Now the taxi apps, specially the rebranded 99, that was the clear winner in the taxi apps fight raised hundreds of millions with the chinese and is ready to fight Uber. They now have regular taxi, a 30% discount taxi (that usually matches Uber price) and a Uber-like service with common people cars, all in the same app.
My social network mostly went back to using taxi, now that the price matches, because SP is not an easy city to transit. Uber drivers rely 100% on Waze/Google Maps. This ofyen leads to errors. Taxi drivers who drive around for years, sometimes decades are more reliable.
My point being: I dont believe in karma, but capitalism is a bitch. If you are that arrogant to mismanage that bad your resources when you are winning, when the market forces strike back, you wont be strong enough to stand on your feet.
Will give it a shot next time I actually need to go somewhere by Taxi.
Slowly, at least where I live, the dispatches for companies are being merged and centralised, often to places far away.
One of the cab companies here has moved away from the Windows Mobile (?) based terminal to just issuing a phone/tablet with an app that looks like it's from about 2001, but the drivers seem to like it.
I just don't see why the cab business should present an opportunity that requires a landgrab on a global scale.
Something like Facebook, sure. You need to be the social network with everyone on it.
A cab company? It doesn't sound like it matters whether it's Uber or some local competitor. Internet is going to be cheap most places, so anyone arriving anywhere can just download the local app as needed.
This monopoly has led to a mix of expensive prices, poor service and unsafe conditions (with every place having its own local flavor of its mix - in SP is basically just the expensive price; in Rio de Janeiro is mostly the other two).
Uber found an innovative way of breaking this monopoly. But... without creating any other barrier except money to keep its prices artificially low. But cheap money doesn't last forever. And Uber is not the only company with access to money in the world.
As soon as the competitors stop fighting Uber in the court or in the town halls and start fighting back in the market, Uber's business flaws will show up.
For instance I worked at a small company that was later bought by a larger company. One of the women I worked with was propositioned by our boss. She reported him to HR and the next day HR scheduled a meeting with her, HR, the CEO and her boss that propositioned her. They told her that her boss denied it then proceeded to ask her for the next half an hour why she was lying and why she wanted to damage his career. She left for the rest of the day in tears.
Over half of his team, including me, left within the month. It was disgusting. During my exit interview I made sure to cite it along with his frequent trips to our area where, when she wasn't there, would pick up her photo of her and her boyfriend and just stare at it along with his fraudulent billing of clients. Nothing ever happened to him, he just got moved into another group because his team got too small.
It's really disheartening to hear story after story about this and even witnessing it yourself. I can't imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end. I worry about this not only because of it being a bad thing but I also have two daughters and it fills me with dread, after what I've seen, what they may go through.
What can be done to stop such toxicity? Do we need stronger laws? Are there groups for women who can turn to?
It seems like she has chosen not to sue Uber, which is also a legitimate choice; she may just want to move on.
Toxicity has to be stopped at every level, in every team where it is found, in this story it sound like the toxicity extends up to the C-suite, so it would seem some changes need to be made there.
This behavior can only occur repeatedly when someone can get away with it, because they have power. If they don't have power, they are punished (often harshly), and a rational person will not repeat that behavior.
Your blanket approach is completely ridiculous. You act like the problem is that men aren't being "taught" properly, when the real problem is that there is little or no accountability for people who have accumulated enough money and/or political power (whether it be on a social scale, or within an organization, as seen in the article).
It's also very wrong for you to assume that only men can abuse their power. Fowler's article even has an example of women abusing it (HR).
I don't know much and I certainly don't claim to know much. All I know is that if we (men) don't curb our own behavior, we're the one squarely at fault.
I'm so tired of this "not all men" attitude. As someone who gets paid to make fact-based decisions all day, I cannot possibly ignore this ridiculous argument that women are at fault. No, way. Yes, anything is possible but the scenario you're proposing is so rare that is an anomaly. Get off that horse, dude. Stop being on the wrong side of history.
>I have zero power now but have the potential to have it. If I don't know how to behave like a decent human around my female coworkers and peers right now, I would have no idea how to do this when I have more power (e.g. become a manager). But, then, I'd have the power to cause irreparable emotional and societal damage.
Simply becoming a manager doesn't give you power. One of the main purposes of middle management is to take the fall for C-level mistakes, after all. You also need to have your employer's backing. In this case, this manager is especially powerful because Uber backs him even when it's not in their best interest). I don't know how the manager in question here was able to obtain that sort of empowerment, but you are sorely mistaken if you think that his ability to stick around was simply due to a job title.
>I don't know much and I certainly don't claim to know much. All I know is that if we (men) don't curb our own behavior, we're the one squarely at fault.
I don't know how to get this through to you. This problem is that powerful people are unaccountable due to the way that our current society is structured. It has nothing to do with gender. Maybe you think this sort of thing wouldn't happen under a female CEO, but you don't know what the context of the relationship between the manager and powerful people within the company who provide him with agency.
>I'm so tired of this "not all men" attitude.
I have no idea what you mean by this.
>As someone who gets paid to make fact-based decisions all day, I cannot possibly ignore this ridiculous argument that women are at fault.
Who made that argument? I honestly have no idea what your thought process is here.
>Yes, anything is possible but the scenario you're proposing is so rare that is an anomaly.
When did I propose a scenario??
>Get off that horse, dude. Stop being on the wrong side of history.
Ok, you're just incoherent at this point.
You're talking as if the men in the article don't know that what they're doing is wrong. If some man accidentally does something harmful against a woman, he can learn from those mistakes. A pattern of repeated sexual harassment, though? That's certainly not due to ignorance.
Do you believe that all men are incapable of being decent human beings?
Can I ask why you believe that?
Much better is consistently work to undermine the power of folks who behave badly.
Defend them when they are not around?
Don't stay silent?
I don't know for certain either.
I've been in your bosses position, though not in a sex-related situation. A woman accused me of something in a private meeting with me and our manager. It was quite trivial and I can't even remember exactly what it was (this happened years ago), but it was work related - I was her tech lead but not her direct reporting manager and she was accusing me of undermining her, and gave an example of a specific incident that would indeed have been rather bad: if it were true. Which it wasn't.
Fortunately, this woman was an exceptionally bad liar (she lied repeatedly and frequently and had been caught many times but was mysteriously never let go). The conversation she was referring to had happened over email. So our boss asked her to bring it up so he could read it for himself. She proceeded to open her laptop, load the email and read it with the boss sitting next to her. It completely contradicted her account, and the only thing she could find to say was "oh". I remember me and my manager looking at each other with wtf type expressions on our faces.
That woman was eventually promoted into management.
What you described is a classic he-said/she-said situation. Perhaps he did have a crush on her and was a bit creepy, and the girl decided she didn't like that, but he never propositioned her. It sounds like you nor your team really knew the truth, but assumed you did. So why is it surprising to you that nothing happened? You want guilty until proven innocent to apply to you, if one day the tables are turned?
> I made sure to cite it along with his frequent trips to our area where, when she wasn't there, would pick up her photo of her and her boyfriend and just stare at it along with his fraudulent billing of clients
Whoa slow down for a second. I gave a very brief overview of some events that related to the topic at hand. I'm not really sure how you took that to mean myself and my team didn't know the truth and we just assumed but I think you're letting your own, personal experience taint experiences others have gone through.
We knew for sure he propositioned her. I get that you had the opposite happen to you. That sucks and, unfortunately, there isn't a great way at dealing with things on either side (IMO anyway). Too many women are not believed and, at the same time, too many women can be believed.
Regardless, if it makes you feel better about my statements, here is just a few things I remember about my boss from approx a decade ago:
- He had done it to at least two other female colleagues one of which shrugged it off as a "that's how guys act" thing and the other, he actually told me she gets "very loose when she's drunk". As you can imagine all employee celebrations had effectively unlimited company drinks purchased for them at whatever restaurant served alcohol. He enjoyed getting everyone drunk.
- He explained, in great detail, what his penis looked like to all of us including the female employees. He threatened it pull it out multiple times but his brother stopped him (his brother directly reported to him). Then he went on to describe his brother's penis in great detail.
- He once hired a woman who he described as a "dirty feminist" and suggested to several of us that we be careful about "triggering her" if we wanted to go out with her.
- He had us interview a woman who was clearly unqualified for a job. After we declined her he repeatedly asked us to re-interview her with easier questions and that we'd "find something for her to do". This eventually boiled down to him calling her several times at home trying to re-re-reinterview her which she then stopped answering him.
- He once told me and a co-worker of mine that I'd be an amazing salesman if I lost some weight because the older women in corporate jobs would "wet themselves" to give us their business.
- He once told me he hired a PI and found out his wife was talking with a divorce attorney. So, he claims, he poked holes in all their condoms and kept stalling her from taking pregnancy tests later so she'd have another kid with him and stay with him longer.
- He had us do other various projects to try and win a customer's money by doing it for free then billing their larger client for the work. I balked at this and refused to do it then he'd log in and change our hours to be against the large contract.
Honestly I could go on and on. The dude was a sleaze bag. Some of this stuff he bragged to all of the male employees about. Trust me, he did it and trust me, many of us reported a lot of his crap and nothing ever happened beyond him being moved horizontally to a different position because he lost too many employees.
Unfortunate typo there.
My negative experience doesn't compare to Ms. Fowler's, but what I've seen basically boils down to:
1) Senior engineers and managers who lack anything approaching maturity. A lot of toxic personalities have been promoted into positions of seniority because they were at some point considered high performers. Many managers and senior engineers are concerned mainly with expanding their influence over improving the organization, helping those with less experience or — god forbid — actually getting anything done.
2) Diseased work culture. 60-hour work weeks seen as normal and encouraged as an enactment of Uber's "Always Be Hustling" cultural value. Tons of drinking, sometimes forced on you by your manager or your manager's manager. Too many unhappy, burnt out people fearful of negative performance reviews.
3) A lot of this stems from our CEO, Travis Kalanick, being profoundly out of touch. He's constitutionally incapable of acknowledging the company's real problems (toxic culture, massive unprofitability, drivers who hate us to name a few).
There are some fantastic engineers and plenty of good people at Uber, but the company rewards the bad eggs far too often and it's killing us from within.
If the stories in this article are true, and if the evidence is as strong as the article says it is, this is a slam-dunk case for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, etc.
Writing this article (which was superb in its incredulous anger) is a better way to get closure IMO, but this should be her decision alone.
You have summarized a number of reasons why I would never ask anyone to volunteer to be the one to accomplish this.
This entire episode will hopefully shine some light on the true difficulties that need to be overcome to promote STEM diversity.
Anyway, we shouldn't even be talking about what she is doing, how about the evil actions of Uber?
Having a hard time recruiting is a serious consequence.
In a suit the defendant can paint the person bringing it as a money grabber (like the people did with the McDonalds hot coffee case.) Someone posting a blog has much less to gain personally, so you just look like a jackass if you try to paint them in a negative light unless they are actually a really bad person.
She tells the story quite well. Probably an ideal story for some journalist(s) to pick up and expand on.
Enough impact that Uber is now hiring Eric Holder as a lead investigator.