Uber manager admits that sexism is "systemic in tech"

Uber has once again found itself mired in controversy, after one of its engineering managers tried to sidestep allegations of widespread sexism within the company by claiming the issue "is systemic in tech".

The incident was reported by Kamilah Taylor, a senior software engineer at LinkedIn. Taylor was approached by the Uber manager in an attempt to recruit her for a role at the company, but said she had "no interest in joining Uber" due to the company's "questionable business practises and sexism".

Rather than attempting to reassure Taylor that Uber is working to ameliorate the problem, however, the female manager apparently attempted to dismiss her concerns. "I understand your concern," she wrote. "I just want to say that sexism is systemic in tech and other industries."

This has prompted outrage from activists and onlookers, who have suggested that this attitude shows Uber is failing to take responsibility for the cultural problems within its organisation.

Many Silicon Valley figures have also pointed out that just because the tech industry continues to struggle with sexism, this does not mean that companies should not be working to change. "I was really shocked," Taylor told the Guardian. "Wouldn't you want to be better than that? Why are you telling me that? Is that your bar?"

When we contacted Uber for comment on the story, the company has yet to reply. However, a spokesperson told the Guardian: "We are investigating," adding, "this message was not sanctioned by Uber's recruiting department."

Uber has been reeling from a seemingly never-ending series of scandals and PR gaffes over the last few months. Kicked off by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler's lengthy expos of the company's endemic sexism, the company has suffered a series of damaging incidents which culminated with the company's president quitting the job after just six months. He blamed the departure on Uber's values, which he said were "inconsistent" with his own.

The company has been attempting to fight these fires, with HuffPo founder and Uber board member Ariana Huffington heading up an internal investigation into its workplace culture. In contrast to the comments reported by Taylor, Huffington recently told reporters that sexism "is not a systemic problem" at Uber.

As part of efforts to combat allegations of sexism, the company will be revealing data on the diversity of its workforce for the first time ever. The data will be made public at Silicon Valley's PUSH Tech 2020 summit, an event organised by Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition in order to promote black and minority inclusion in tech industry roles.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.