After former engineer Susan J. Fowler alleges sexual harassment, Uber orders investigation

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said on Sunday evening that the company will launch an investigation into serious accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination made by a former engineer for the ride-sharing service. Her stint in Uber was bogged by a number of sexist incidents, the first of which happened on the first day. It paints the company as a leaderless mess plagued with rampant misogyny.

Using the company chat system, she said that the unnamed manager told her that he and his girlfriend had an open relationship, but that his girlfriend was having an easier time finding sexual partners than he was.

She wrote: "He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with". Within a few months, the manager was reported once again for inappropriate behaviour, and those who reported him were told it was still his "first offense". "Upper management told me that he "was a high performer" (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn't feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part".

Later, after that manager was sacked and she had moved to another team, she said that her application for a transfer to a less insane engineering organization within the company was blocked, in spite of a glowing performance review. Fowler chose the latter.

The engineer eventually left the team and joined another SRE team, where she had a lot of autonomy and did "amazing work", which led to her book "Production-Ready Microservices". Technology companies have been working for years to improve diversity in the workplace, including bringing in more minorities and women into engineering roles and management positions. As I got to know them, and heard their stories, I was surprised that some of them had stories similar to my own.

Fowler wrote that when she joined Uber, 25 percent of the company was comprised of women.

"It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being 'his first offense, ' and it certainly wasn't his last", Fowler wrote.

Fowler added that the manager later left Uber under unclear circumstances.

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See, earlier in the year, the organization had promised leather jackets for everyone in [the] organization, and had taken all of our sizes; we all tried them on and found our sizes, and placed our orders. We were told that if we wanted leather jackets, we women needed to find jackets that were the same price as the bulk-order price of the men's jackets. At one point, she was deemed ineligible for a Stanford University computer science graduate program sponsored by Uber because supervisors suddenly lowered her job performance scores.

"It seemed like every manager was fighting their peers and attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor's job", she wrote.

"We all lived under fear that our teams would be dissolved, there would be another re-org, and we'd have to start on yet another new project with an impossible deadline". It was an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos.

"We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber - and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired", Kalanick said.

Fowler's blog post also claims there was a chaotic company-wide culture of sexism and unprofessional business practices.

News has not independently confirmed Fowler's allegations.

The move - as well as Trump's December announcement that Kalanick was joining his economic advisory council - prompted many users to delete Uber's app from their smartphones. Tech Twitter has been busy passing along Fowler's blog and offering messages of support.

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