Twitter Lawsuit Alleges Gender Bias

Remember last year there was a huge kerfluffle when the cream of Silicon Valley tech companies released their diversity stats? Twitter was among these companies, but former software engineer Tina Huang, who has proposed a class-action lawsuit against Twitter, claims the numbers the company reported are actually worse than originally stated.

According to a piece I read in Business Insider, Huang’s suit alleges a number of things: Twitter failed “to promote women on the same basis as men are promoted and compensated,” the company did not “provide women with accurate and timely notice of promotional opportunities,” and Twitter’s management team failed “to take adequate steps to eliminate the effects of its past discriminatory practices” and retaliated “against women employees who complain of unequal treatment.”

Twitter’s blog says that 70 percent of the company’s employees are men, and that 90 percent of Twitter's technical staff are men. Huang’s suit alleges the gender imbalance is actually worse: “a closer look at the software engineering division at the company’s headquarters shows an even starker contrast: every member of the top level principal and senior staff engineer positions during Ms. Huang’s tenure (about 22 total positions) was a man.

“In Ms. Huang’s staff software engineer position, only about seven of 164 employees, or about 4 percent, are women.”

Twitter has already gone on the record stating that Huang, who worked for the company in various software engineering roles from 2009 to 2014, voluntarily resigned “after our leadership tried to persuade her to stay.” Huang tells a slightly different story. She said she complained directly to CEO Dick Costolo that she was repeatedly overlooked for promotions, was then put on leave and eventually resigned. 

Man. I used to think the world of business at large was just all around sketchy for women, but there are definitely some industries within that business bucket — and tech is a big one — that give new meaning to “old boys club.” The tech industry seems like a Victorian House of Lords, sans wigs.