Three Latina software engineers are taking down Uber

By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor

11/1/17

Gender discrimination happens in every industry, no matter the size of the corporation. Regardless of anti-discrimination laws that make gender discrimination illegal, it’s no surprise that management at small or large corporations often favor the advancement of men.

Recently, three female software engineers have declared a lawsuit against the ride-sharing giant Uber for discrimination. The women, Ingrid Avendano, Roxana del Toro Lopez and Ana Medina, claim that compensation and other practices are unfair to minorities and women. According to the lawsuit, Uber is favoring men and white or Asian employees as opposed to women, African American, American Indian or Latino employees. Lower performance scores are given to these specific minorities, causing them to struggle to advance and confining them to menial tasks. The women themselves have recounted times in the lawsuit where they lost out on promotions and benefits.

The case, filed in the San Francisco Superior Court, claims that Uber has violated the California Equal Pay Act, as well as the California Private Attorney Generals Act. I thoroughly support these women’s actions against male chauvinism and sexism, and commend them for taking a stand. Engineering is a male-dominated industry, not because men perform better, but because the industry is seemingly discouraging for women. According to the Society of Women Engineers, 20 percent of engineering school graduates are women, but make up only 11 percent of total practicing engineers. The field is seemingly so disadvantageous that one in four female engineers leave the field after the age of 30.

Apparently, the issue of discrimination has persisted in Uber for a while. In February, Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, was sexually harassed by her supervisor. She complained to the human resources department, which ignored her claims. This past June, the company had fired 20 employees on the basis of harassment and inappropriate behavior. Past chief executive of Uber, Travis Kalanick, was stripped from the company for fostering a culture of male chauvinism (as well as a heap of other issues such as overcharging NYC customers).

Women have it hard enough in the workplace. According to a 2016 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report, 60 percent of women have experienced workplace gender harassment. Michelle Haynes of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and Madeline Heilman of New York University reported that in mixed-sex teams, credit is far more often given to the male than the female team member.

According to a Reuters article, Uber made a series of changes in August addressing pay equity by increasing the pay of employees who were paid below the median salary for their job. It still seems as though they did not look hard enough at the problem at hand. Uber should be paying women and people of color equally for their hard work.

As a woman of color, I’m very ashamed of Uber, but proud that there are women who aren’t afraid to stand up to discrimination. The three women seem to be saying to the rest of the world, “Go ahead and try to stop us from equal opportunities, but you can’t stop us from speaking out and fighting against it.”

I would love to see these women take down Uber, so I say to them, and any woman out there who feels like they are not being treated fairly: Get your coins ladies. Down with the patriarchy!

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