Women Don’t Feel Safe at Google

By Michael K. Spencer

I’ve always had a weird place in my heart for women in Tech. Little did I realize arguably where talent is the brightest in the world, Alphabet, is the seat of such injustice.

The Google walkout held on November 1st, 2018 was more than expected. But as with so many things with women in tech, words never seem to be enough.

Cathay Bi, a Google employee in San Francisco and one of the walkout organizers, told a group of journalists at the rally that she was conflicted with participating in the walkout and ultimately decided not to go public with her own story of sexual harassment. That’s not right.

1,500 Google employees across the globe participated in the 48-hour effort to arrange a worldwide walkout.
  • Google employees can share their sexual harassment stories, but are executives listening?
  • Alphabet famously gave Andy Rubin $90 million to leave after a scandal

Google has been hit by a series of scandals, along with Facebook, that makes the stories of Uber in 2017 seem pretty much like the standard bro-culture: young engineers and rich executives who do not really take ethics much into account. What’s become clear for is Google employees don’t have much say, well, in anything. From project Dragonfly to going into China, to the process of how women go through sexual harassment.

Google is a divided nation and what we are learning is that as these tech companies get bigger and more global, they also become ideological war fields. Politics, inequality, how they use AI for profit, everything is under the microscope.

“I experienced sexual harassment at Google and I didn’t feel safe talking about it,” said Cathy Bi, pictured above. “That feeling of not being safe is why I’m out here today. I’d love it if everyone felt safe talking about it.”

Google is a global community but it seems clear that men in power get the upper hand. There were protests around the globe today, including in London, Dublin, Montreal, Singapore, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Cambridge, following a New York Times investigation that revealed Google had given Android co-creator Andy Rubin a $90 million exit package despite multiple relationships with other Google staffers and credible accusations of sexual misconduct made against him, reported TechCrunch and others.

It’s one thing not being able to regulate algorithms or artificial intelligence or helping the military and helping the Chinese create mass surveillance tools. It’s quite another when you cannot even regulate your workplace. Alphabet needs to be a leader, not a place where the media tells a “MeToo” story, only to have the workplace remain the same.

  • Many of the employees who have left Google due to sexual harassment offences have actually been executives at Google.

Google needs to listen to the voices of reason, its own employees!

It’s very sad to hear what has been happening at Google all of this time.

Workers’ rights are women’s rights and until better policies are in place and wage and access to promotion equality occur, and mandatory equality on tech boards are imposed, how can we expect anything to change? As it stands, Google is a circus show of all that is wrong in tech today.