In February of 2017, a former Uber software engineer wrote a blog post on gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the rideshare company.
By the end of 2017, the #MeToo Movement grew into a cultural firestorm and she appeared on Time’s 2017 Person of the Year cover as a “silence breaker.” Uber’s CEO had resigned. Now, Viking (of Penguin Random House) has just published her book.
But the hard road she traveled along the way shows the strength it takes to speak up, why so many choose not to and the reason changes are so urgently needed.
A blog post has an immediate impact
Susan Fowler’s Feb. 19, 2017, blog post went viral essentially immediately, and within days former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took on the job of investigating the company. Uber board member Arianna Huffington helped to conduct the review.
But Fowler writes in an article in Time that the initial thrill of making a big, immediate and positive impact slowly began to fade as she noticed bizarre stories and experiences gradually creeping into her life.
Strange and scary events slowly take over
She writes that friends, relatives and even distant acquaintances she could not even remember meeting told her people had contacted them with questions about Fowler. They contacted her, too, lying about who they were and what they were working on.
Someone hacked her email and social media accounts and those of her younger sister. She began to hear rumors about herself. Mainly, she heard from reporters and her fellow workers in the tech industry workers the false rumor that Lyft, Uber’s main competitor, paid her to blow the whistle. Soon, she says strangers began to follow her on the street.
The stress and sheer lack of reality began to get the better of her. She was sick every day and often could not sleep. Her mind raced as she reexamined every conversion she had ever had with anyone, wondering what would become a weapon against her next.
Asking if it was all worth it
Today, with a new marriage and baby, and a new book out, she appears to be in a better place.
“Writing that post was the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences,” she writes in Time. “Shining a light in the darkness is the right thing to do. In some cases, like my own, it is the only way to leave the world better than you found it.”