As Uber Starts Tackling Sexual Harassment in its Ranks, We Ask, What is Silicon Valley's Problem with Women?

  • 2017-06-15
  • Wired

Despite the tech industry having a strongly male reputation, the world's first programmer was a woman.

In 1843, Ada Lovelace developed the first theoretical software algorithm, a century before the development of the modern computer. Her vision of an "analytical engine" that could "[weave] algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves", imagined a device that could create more than mathematical calculations; one that could give life to art and music. Lovelace's vision should embody the lifeblood of Silicon Valley; that of invention, and pushing the boundaries of possibility. But her legacy jars with the image of the modern programmer – one that is distinctly and, arguably, dangerously gendered.

There's a concerning rise in the number of women accusing tech companies of having apathetic stances on inequality and harassment. Within the past few months, Google has been accused of having "systematic compensation disparities" between men and women in the company; Susan Fowler Rigetti published a 2,800-word blog post containing allegations against Uber, leading to two investigations, 20 dismissals and the resignation of Uber executive Amit Singhal over previous sexual harassment allegations.