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Female engineer sues Twitter in latest gender discrimination case to hit Silicon Valley

Whitney Wolfe Ellen Pao Female engineer sues Twitter in latest discrimination case to hit Silicon Valley Telegraph

Whitney Wolfe of Tinder, left, and Ellen Pao, right.


Stashed in: Women, Kleiner Perkins, Sexism, inequality, @dickc, Tinder!, Ellen Pao

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The tech industry has a problem. Twitter is the latest demonstration of it.

A female engineer is suing Twitter over its alleged “tap-on-the-shoulder” promotion practice that favours men, making it the latest suit to highlight claims of widespread gender discrimination in Silicon Valley. 

Tina Huang, who is leading a class action, accused the “male-dominated” management team at the social media company of intentionally overlooking women for promotion. 

In the complaint, filed in San Francisco over the weekend, Miss Huang says she was passed over for promotion in 2013 without adequate explanation despite years of service, excellent evaluations by peers and supervisors and an absence of criticism or disciplinary issues. 

Miss Huang - one of the company’s earliest employees - says most of the men who started with her were quickly promoted to senior management level while she was overlooked, describing a “company-wide, pervasive problem of discrimination”. 

The lack of a formal promotion procedure at Twitter, such as published criteria or an application process, has led to a “tap on the shoulder” culture that unfairly advances men, she alleges. 

"These judgments are tainted with conscious or unconscious prejudices and gender-based stereotypes,” the suit reads. “which explains why so few women employees at Twitter advance to senior and leadership positions.” 

Miss Huang, who worked at Twitter between October 2009 and June 2014 on the mobile team, says she complained directly to the CEO Dick Costolo but was put on leave and forced to quit. 

Last year Twitter released its diversity report, in which it recorded a 90:10 split of male to female tech employees. 

The firm lags behind others such as Facebook and Yahoo, which both record 15 percent of tech workers as women. 

Her legal team wants the suit to include women “denied promotions in the three years prior to the filing of this complaint”. 

Miss Huang said in her submission that the tech giant “creates a glass ceiling for women that cannot be explained or justified by any reasonable business purpose”. 

A spokesman for Twitter responded by saying Miss Huang left voluntarily and was not pushed out. 

"Twitter is deeply committed to a diverse and supportive workplace, and we believe the facts will show Ms. Huang was treated fairly," said the company. 

The latest case comes in the wake of the high-profile gender-discrimination trial against Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, one of the most powerful venture capital firms in the US. 

Ellen Pao, a former junior partner is in court suing her former employer for sex discrimination, claiming the company routinely withheld raises and promotions from female staff and excluded them from social functions as they “kill the buzz”. 

Ms Pao is seeking $16 million (£10 million) in future wage losses based on her accusations of years of sexual harassment and discrimination at the firm. 

The case has rattled Silicon Valley - in part because of Kleiner Perkins’ high profile - and sparked a debate about gender in the technology sector. 

“This case is a wakeup call,” said Stanford University law professor Deborah Rhode, who teaches gender equity law. “The case has sparked a much-needed debate about gender inequality regardless of its merit.”

Kelly Ellis, the woman who was harassed by Google+ managers, is not suing Google.

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