3 red flags Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler said she noticed early on


‘Whistleblower’ by Susan Fowler

  • Former Uber employee and whistleblower Susan Fowler says in her new book that she noticed a handful of red flags early on in her time at Uber.
  • After her interview process was delayed, Fowler says she was told that the wait was due to the company’s “crazy” trip to Vegas. 
  • She also says that while interviewers told her that “twenty-five percent!” of Uber’s engineering teams were female, “the only women I could recall seeing during my visit were the recruiting coordinator and the janitor.” 
  • Fowler also recalls a team-building exercise to choose the “most interesting person” in the group of new hires — but when the finalists for the exercise were on a stage, the judge, a software engineering director, immediately dismissed all the women.
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Susan Fowler, a former Uber employee who spoke out in 2017 about sexual harassment at the company, writes in her new book, “Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber,” that she noticed a series of red flags after starting at Uber. 

Fowler’s post in 2017 led to increased scrutiny and awareness of the workplace culture at Uber, and ultimately contributed to the ousting of the company’s cofounder and former CEO, Travis Kalanick. 

Fowler’s book is available now, and you can read an excerpt provided to Business Insider here. 

Here are some of the red flags Fowler said she noticed early on at Uber:

Delayed by a “crazy” company trip

Fowler says that when she was interviewing for her job at Uber, she didn’t hear back from the company for weeks, but then a recruiter asked to schedule another interview with her.

Fowler writes that, “Uber was sorry for the delay, he said. They’d just returned from their company trip to Vegas, he explained, and had been too busy dealing with the fallout from that ‘crazy’ trip to schedule interviews.” 

The New York Times reported that the party was a drinking-fueled trip that included drug use, sexual assault, and an employee stealing a shuttle bus. 

Fowler said that a coworker later told her that the employees on the trip were “drunk out of their minds.” 

Lack of female employees

When she interviewed at Uber, Fowler says she was told by interviewers about the large number of female engineers employed at the company. She remembers them telling her that “twenty-five percent!” of its engineers were women. 

But when she came to the Uber offices for her onsite interview, “the red flags continued.” 

“The only women I could recall seeing during my visit were the recruiting coordinator and the janitor,” Fowler writes. 

A team-building exercise gone wrong

At an event for new hires, Fowler says that there was a competition for “most interesting person.” After groups discussed and chose a person to represent their group, the “most interesting” people gathered on the stage for a judge to choose the winner. 

Fowler was one of the nominees. The judge, a software engineering director, pointed to all the women on the stage, Fowler writes. 

“Step down, and go back to your tables,” Fowler recalls him telling all the women. 

“There’s no way, I thought to myself, that this guy just eliminated all of the women by accident, Fowler writes.

“I paused for a little too long, and he noticed I was still standing there onstage,” Fowler says. “He shot me an angry look and beckoned me to return to my table. I stepped down and watched as he then picked the most interesting man.”

“Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber” is out now.