back to article Google engineering boss sues web giant over sex discrim: I was paid less than men, snubbed for promotion

A technical director is suing Google for allegedly paying her less than male counterparts and promoting less-qualified men to positions for which she was more skilled. In a filing [PDF] this week in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Ulku Rowe accused Google of discrimination "by hiring her at a lower …

  1. Qumefox

    Well of course they couldn't substantiate her claims. Does anyone honestly think they'd admit wrongdoing when in the middle of a lawsuit? Or ever, for that matter?

  2. TheProf Silver badge
    Trollface

    Is this the real life.....

    I need a plumber to do some complicated work for me.

    I've already had a very good quote from a fully qualified female lead-melter but I'm really keen to pay a man to do a cack-handed job and charge me more for it.

    1. allthegoodnamesweretaken
      Trollface

      Re: Is this the real life.....

      The problem with discrimination is that it is less about facts and logic and more about perception and impaired character. I put it to you that not everyone displays your Vulcanesque thinking and has your nobility of soul ;-)

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      But

      when the cack-handed man is your drinking buddy. . .

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ooh Good!

    [Gets card ready to play El Reg misogynist commenter bingo]

    1. Imhotep

      Re: Ooh Good!

      Next number is Biologically incapable. Repeat: Biologically incapable.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. joeW Silver badge

      Re: Ooh Good!

      Feminists vs Google - lets watch some heads explode!

      1. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Ooh Good!

        It all boils down to one key question: "Can she do the damn job?"

        Popcorn, please!

  4. Imhotep

    We Don't Like Anybody Very Much

    From the complaints, Google seems to be discriminating against all of their employees. I have a sort of grudging admiration for what they've managed to accomplish in not playing favorites, but I don't think I'd want to work there.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: We Don't Like Anybody Very Much

      From the complaints, Google seems to be discriminating against all of their employees.

      ...Or just letting supervisors do it for them.

      Too old, too female, too political...(and I've not really been paying attention).

      Almost a full house. It's a wonder anyone would want to work there.

    2. ratfox Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: We Don't Like Anybody Very Much

      "If everybody is favorite, then no one is!" — Syndrome

  5. TRT Silver badge

    I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

    No, not Google, Cadbury.

    I noticed that the tasting panel they showed was exclusively made up of females.

    I really don't know what that observation tells me about anything, but I feel it ought to.

    1. Grikath

      Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

      Because the Chocolate Craving is a predominantly female thing? With anecdotal evidence suggesting that "predominantly" goes up to 95% for the gender bracket once a month...

      Makes sense to ensure your flavours match the preferences of that particular half of the population....

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

        Because the Chocolate Craving is a predominantly female thing? With anecdotal evidence suggesting that "predominantly" goes up to 95% for the gender bracket once a month...

        Makes sense to ensure your flavours match the preferences of that particular half of the population....

        They should be making more use of all that chocolate delight...think the ladies would sign up for Cadburys phone sex line.

        mines the dirty mac with the suspicious erm, chocolate stains.

      2. shifty_powers

        Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

        Repeat after me:

        "The plural of anecdote is not data".

      3. Handle123456

        Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

        Well while you are most likely right, if a company made something that was a "predominantly male thing" they wouldn't dare to have a male only tasting panel. Quoquoquotas anyone?

        Not only that, they'd be forced to run campaigns ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

          Weren't Yorkies advertised as "Not for Girls"?

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

            We were talking about chocolate.

            (although I do like Yorkies, they have a fantastic texture and do taste nice)

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I watched a documentary about that Chocolate Factory the other night...

      I don't know how it is with chocolate and sweets in general, but in the meat industry women make up a majority of "sniffers", checking meat, especially pork*, for strong smells.

      Un-castrated male pigs are called "stinkers" in the industry, their meat can give off a bad smell when cooked. This smell is also detectable when raw, but it is hard, especially for men, to detect. Women have a much better chance of picking up this anomaly. Their olfactory senses are more sensitive to this particular range of smells.

      There are some jobs that are better suited to one sex or the other. But a majority of jobs these days are more about knowledge and ability than biological attributes.

      Me? I can't detect a stinker (we used to supply software to the meat processing industry), but I can detect cigarette smoke at 200M...

  6. Erik4872

    'Outside the bubble' issues maybe?

    From what I've seen, the biggest tech companies (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc.) tend to be very insular. People I know who work at Microsoft say that the average employee just isn't going to get a much better employment deal elsewhere. As a result, people stay a long time...and why not? Microsoft pays the entire cost of employee health insurance, and takes care of just about every employee need. Ulku Rowe came from Chase (i.e. from The Outside.) It would be interesting to see how much of this was discrimination (highly possible) and how much was "she's not a lifelong Googler, she couldn't possibly be qualified." (equally possible.) It's kind of like what happens with law firms and fancy consulting firms...they just don't hire outsiders unless there's some critical skill need. They want to grow everyone up from a fresh young grad and don't want to have to unteach "bad habits" candidates may have picked up from other candidates.

    Given Google's track record of hiring extremely vocal, opinionated Ph. D's for basically every position, I wouldn't be shocked if discovery in this case revealed more than a few messages about exactly why she wasn't qualified and what 3 jobs they were going to offer her instead. The evidence her lawyers uncover is potentially very interesting reading.

    1. Imhotep

      Re: 'Outside the bubble' issues maybe?

      "They want to grow everyone up from a fresh young grad and don't want to have to unteach "bad habits" candidates"

      And that's how you get a total lack of "diversity" exactly where it is needed. There is no point of having a group of people of various physical attributes, if they all think alike.

    2. Woza
      Headmaster

      Re: 'Outside the bubble' issues maybe?

      I don't think the "lifelong Googler" applies in this case - from the article:

      "In February 2019, a candidate [for the VP job] was chosen after just six months working for Google..."

    3. NonyaDB

      Re: 'Outside the bubble' issues maybe?

      Exactly. Same goes for the defense contracting world where it's not who you are or even who you know but rather "who knows you".

      And if they don't *know* you and no one vouches for your skillset and work ethic then you're not getting hired or at least not going to get hired into a sensitive position overseas.

      Stateside, sure. Overseas where the big bucks are? Nope.

      I've literally gotten a gig in Iraq just because one of the other contractors saw my resume on the country manager's desk and remembered me from several NATO exercises years ago and told him they need to hire me ASAP to help them set up a few things.

      I was on a plane to Iraq a week later.

      The DoD world loves us combat arms veterans who work in IT as we're already vetted.

      You just can't get a reliable network engineer to work in austere, violent, life-threatening conditions that *hasn't* already experienced combat because they tend to crack up with what they're exposed to on a daily basis overseas.

      Pulling IT & radio gear out of a bloody, blown-up military vehicle - sometimes on-site in the field - then cleaning it up, testing it, and putting it into a new vehicle isn't for everyone.

      1. whbjr

        Re: 'Outside the bubble' issues maybe?

        "You just can't get a reliable network engineer to work in austere, violent, life-threatening conditions that *hasn't* already experienced combat..."

        So, you only get hired if you've already been shot at? I'm trying to escape the Catch-22 aspects of this, where you won't hire me for a shot-at position unless I've already been shot at - unless you're hiring network engineers who weren't network engineers while they were in "austere, violent, life-threatening conditions" (austere?).

  7. Dinanziame

    So she was a victim of discrimination because she was a woman... After being hired as a director when the "Cloud CEO" of Google was Diane Greene? Hmm...

    I guess if she had been a man, she might have complained of being passed over for promotion because Google, as everybody learned from the famous memo, unfairly advantantages women over men.

    It's the great thing these days, no matter who you are and what happens to you, it's always unfair.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      And?

      If her claims are true, then it doesn't matter who is in charge, women can be equally sexist in employing men iver women. Seems odd, but perfectly feasible.

      1. The Dogs Meevonks

        I had a male manager who was a mysandrist, and would only try to promote female works and fought tooth and nail to get an 19yr old with big tits a supervisor position instead of the qualified and well respected guy who was already doing the job anyway.

        But then this was the same guy who was cheating on his wife, and tried underhand tactics to stop me getting another position in the same company.

        I had the last laugh though... I shagged his mistress whilst they were broken up because he refused to leave his wife. :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I had the last laugh though... I shagged his mistress whilst they were broken up because he refused to leave his wife. :) "

          Oh DOUCHÉ !

          (Unless he was also shaggin' your wife too, eh?)

      2. ShortLegs

        @The Dogs Meevonks

        Re the guy who wanted to promote a 19yr old, and was cheating on his wife, thta wouldnt have been at the company formely known as Global Crossing/Level 3, or a leading business ISP, would it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Dinanziame two different issues.

      You can try to argue that there is no discrimination because they hired a woman to fill an exec level spot.

      It doesn't work that way.

      She can document her specific case.

      Google can counter with evidence that she wasn't fit for the role.

      An example is that she is a smart and capable person, yet not a team player and the role requires a team player. Personality conflicts, etc ...

      It all boils down to who is going to present a better case.

      We don't have all of the information, but her lawyer makes a compelling case.

      We shall see... either way... she's going to have a tough time trying to find her next job.

      Win or lose, going to litigation puts a red flag on your resume.

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: @Dinanziame two different issues.

        The entire point of Google - is that they DO have "all the information" - about the employee, about the managers, and if that isnt enough, about the lawyers, the judges, and the congress/senator-things..

        How they choose to use that information depends on what they want to achieve.

        Use it tactically for a short term win, or refrain, to manipulate their image and strategic position.

        Evil Empires R Us

      2. Dinanziame

        Re: @Dinanziame two different issues.

        Fair enough. Only, in order to convincingly demonstrate gender discrimination, she needs to show that it applied to more than just her. If other women in the group get the same salaries and promotions as men, then it stops being gender discrimination, and it's just that she gets a lower salary than other people, for reasons unrelated to her gender.

  8. low_resolution_foxxes

    Reading the case and the job roles, it reads like she had similarly ranking technical skills, but was beaten by a Sales veteran with 20 years sales experience, for a sales job.

    I'm open minded as per her claim, she was a high ranking financial technologist, but there's a big difference between giving presentations at exhibitions, working at a bank in a tech role and working in sales. She sounds like she may have slightly delusional opinions of her actual status, she was a Google director ffs and by her Own account she'd been there two years and had been in/out of the HR office on many occasions blaming gender for various things and demanding all sorts of things, including $0.3m payrises. It reads like there's one dude at a nearby level who earns more than her and she might be a touch of a mischievous trouble maker.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes

      Oops, not sales, the position she wanted went to a legal attorney with compliance and technical background. My bad..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Other things not being equal ...

    She's comparing herself to someone 'trained as an attorney'.

    I don't like it any more than she does, but legal training really does bring in the big bucks. As in my ex's brother, who trebled his pay when he went from mere Chartered Engineer (high status within engineering profession) to Legally Trained Engineer.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes

      Re: Other things not being equal ...

      She started at Level 8, probably a $1+m annual salary based on a quick Google (lol) review.

      Within 2 years of working at Google, she's suing Google for not getting a Level 10 job. Apparently Level 10 means you are a "Google Fellow", of which there are only around 30 (apparently) in the world, in a company with 100,000 employees.

      By all means I give her credit for the ambition. But suing your way to the top will not make friends in high places.

  10. rtb61

    Contacts Only Contract

    Clearly she was hired for her contacts with regard to cloud contracts, now that they have been served, she is being dumped.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google in fact underpays men https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/technology/google-gender-pay-gap.html

    When Google conducted a study recently to determine whether the company was underpaying women and members of minority groups, it found, to the surprise of just about everyone, that men were paid less money than women for doing similar work.

    If she didn’t get promoted even with positive discrimination she might not be as deserving as she thinks she is

  12. Wilco

    Lying HR Weasels

    To misquote Bill Hicks,

    "If you work in HR, kill yourself"

    1. The Dogs Meevonks

      Re: Lying HR Weasels

      I'll always upvote anyone who quotes Bill Hicks.

  13. EmilPer.

    9+ levels of hierarchy ?

    not sure the Roman Church has such a deep hierarchy

    maybe Google is ready to go the way of the Dodo if they can afford nine levels plus of miscommunication ?

  14. Ken Mitchell

    Why Would This Happen?

    Once again it must be pointed out that if companies actually could manage to pay equally-credentialed, equally-skilled, and equally-experienced women less money to do exactly the same jobs men do -- working exactly the same hours, having the same willingness to travel, and taking the same number of sick day and personal days -- no company would ever hire a man again.

  15. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Surplus Jobs

    Never understand why such highly-paid dedicated whiners with high opinions of their skills don't just create their own companies.

    In the real world half a million Americans live on the streets.

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