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Uber Case Could Be a Watershed for Women in Tech

By Farhad Manjoo

Few women in Silicon Valley were surprised by the revelations about Uber detailed this month by Susan Fowler, a software engineer who published an exposé on the culture of sexism and sexual harassment that she said she battled during her year at the ride-hailing company.

For many women in Silicon Valley, the contours of Ms. Fowler’s story rang true from sorry experience. There are tales like hers from across the tech industry. This week, The Guardian reported that a female Tesla employee had filed suit against the electric-car company for what she called “pervasive harassment.” (Tesla said in a statement that the claims “have not been substantiated.”) And even in cases where abuse is well documented — as in Ellen Pao’s unsuccessful sexual harassment lawsuit against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — the men responsible are rarely punished, and the overall picture rarely improves.

Still, the Uber scandal feels different. It feels like a watershed. For gender-diversity advocates in the tech industry, Ms. Fowler’s allegations, and the public outcry they have ignited, offer a possibility that something new may be in the offing.

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