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Uber’s sexual harassment problem will be the subject of an upcoming film

Uber’s sexual harassment problem will be the subject of an upcoming film


It’s the most recent addition to an ever-expanding cultural moment

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Image: Uber

Susan Fowler’s viral 2017 blog post about sexual harassment at Uber will be the inspiration for a potential film adaptation, Variety reports. The as-yet-unnamed project will be a joint effort from Fowler, a former Uber engineer, the production company Good Universe, and Hidden Figures screenwriter Allison Schroeder.

Fowler’s blog post “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber” described a tense work environment where sexual harassment and professional undermining were pervasive problems for women. She claimed that after she reported her manager for sending her sexually explicit chats at work, little action was taken by Uber’s human resources department. Her request to transfer teams within the company was denied, and her performance review scores began to suffer.

She wrote that this culture of suppression led to an exodus of women at the company:

When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%. Women were transferring out of the organization, and those who couldn't transfer were quitting or preparing to quit. There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organization. When I asked our director at an org all-hands about what was being done about the dwindling numbers of women in the org compared to the rest of the company, his reply was, in a nutshell, that the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers.

Multiple women corroborated Fowler’s claims, and her blog post set off a chain reaction of events within the company. An investigation into the allegations of harassment at Uber led to 20 firings, though there were more than 200 reports of misconduct. Several executives were fired or left the company of their own accord, and CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down after a series of missteps and scandals.

This past summer, The Verge’s Sarah Jeong argued that Fowler’s post was just the first step in a battle against sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. “The snowball effect from Fowler’s blogpost continues,” she wrote, “toppling CEOs and venture capital firms, launching legislation — whistleblowers inspiring more whistleblowers, each successive disruption forcing change on an industry that, despite all its talk about moving fast and breaking things, has resisted change thus far.”

That Fowler’s story is being developed for a film adaptation is yet another marker in what has become an ever-expanding cultural moment. Recently, widespread allegations of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood have come to the surface, too. More than 40 women have alleged decades of unchecked abuse from producer Harvey Weinstein, and a new Los Angeles Times report details dozens of stories of sexual harassment from director James Toback. A publicly circulated spreadsheet called Shitty Media Men named and accused men in media of varying levels of harassment and assault.

The door has been cautiously opened yet again, as it was in the weeks following Fowler’s blog post, for women to come forward with stories of harassment. Her story may have knocked over the first domino in Silicon Valley, but now it’s part of an even bigger story as those dominos keep falling in every industry.