Google workers reportedly have proven again that the tech industry has a huge discrimination problem, particularly toward women of color.
Repeated examples of gender and racial disparity at the technology company and other major workplaces are presented in a new scathing piece by reporter Sheelah Kolhatkar for The New Yorker. One case about a Black female engineer, Erica Joy Baker, sounded the alarm on discrimination. Baker recounted a negative experience at Google in which she was mistaken for an administrative assistant during her tenure there from 2006 to 2015.
Baker offered help for a technical issue, which she was qualified to address, to Google’s C.E.O. Eric Schmidt. However, her offer was rebuffed, she said. Instead, Schmidt wanted help from a male employee named Frank.
“I said, ‘Oh, I can take care of that for you.’ And he said, ‘Oh, you’re not his [Frank’s] assistant?’ ” Baker recalled.
Schmidt asked Baker to leave a message for Frank about the technical issue. He also advised her to hang a door sign that explained her role, even though other offices didn’t have such signs.
Baker was put in that very difficult position of having to explain what she does and her qualifications because of her race and gender. This narrative is one that many Black folks, unfortunately, have in common. In the face of prejudice, employees of color have watched their opportunities for advancement taken from them.
“Throughout my career at Google, there was the standard thing: ‘I know you want to work on this thing, but we’re going to let a white dude work on it. Sorry, we’re going to let a white dude go ahead of you,’ ” Baker explained. “That was really frustrating.”
Mounting public pressure and discrimination complaints prompted Google to release diversity data in 2014, to the disappointment of many people of color, according to The New Yorker. Women accounted for just 17 percent of the company’s employees in technical roles, with Hispanics having made up two percent and Blacks a measly one percent. Percentages had improved only slightly to 20, three and one percent, respectively, in the company’s third diversity report released in June.
Three women also filed a lawsuit against the company over a gender pay gap in September, Slate reported.