Susan J. Fowler is an American writer and software engineer known for her role in influencing institutional changes in how Uber and Silicon Valley companies treat sexual harassment. Her business celebrity led to book and Hollywood film deals based on her experience. Originally homeschooled in rural Arizona, Fowler studied physics at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked at two technology startup companies before joining Uber in late 2015. In early 2017, her blog post on sexual harassment at the company was widely shared and led to the ousting of the company's CEO. She runs a science book club and has written a book on microservices. Fowler served as editor-in-chief of a quarterly publication by the payment processing company Stripe, and is currently a technology opinion editor at The New York Times.
|Born||1990/1991 (age 28–29)|
|Other names||Susan Fowler Rigetti|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
|Occupation||Software engineer, writer|
|Known for||Uber sexual harassment allegations and management shakeup|
Susan Fowler was raised in rural Yarnell, Arizona, the second of seven children. Her father was an evangelical Assemblies of God preacher and pay phone salesman, and her mother homeschooled their children. Fowler recalled having little direction in her education, and would often visit the library and try to teach herself topics. She was influenced by Plutarch's Lives and the Stoics, which encouraged her to focus on the parts of her life she could control. She worked as a stable hand and nanny to make money for her family. Fowler prepared herself to take college entrance exams without high school and was accepted with a full scholarship to Arizona State University, where she wanted to pursue astronomy. However, her lack of high school prerequisites prevented her study of math and physics, so she transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where Fowler faced similar opposition until she appealed to the university president. She worked as a physics research assistant during her time there and graduated with a degree in physics.
In February 2017, Fowler wrote a 3,000-word blog post on sexual harassment at Uber, which led to the ousting of its CEO, Travis Kalanick, and a subsequent backlash against sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, including the removal of tech investors Dave McClure and Justin Caldbeck. Fowler's post outlined a hostile work culture for female employees of Uber. She recounted how the company's human resources refused to punish her former manager, who had propositioned her for sex, based on his productivity. The story was shared 22,000 times on Twitter. External probes confirmed her account and led to multiple firings. Fowler's role in changing Uber made her into a business world celebrity. She has received book and Hollywood film deals and continues to work towards legislation and workplace protections for women. In August 2017, she petitioned the United States Supreme Court to consider her experience in its decision on whether employees can forfeit rights to collective litigation in their employment contracts. Vanity Fair named her among their 2017 list of top business and cultural leaders.
Fowler was one of five women featured on the cover of Time magazine's Person of the Year issue for 2017, as representative of "The Silence Breakers", for reporting on the sexual harassment she experienced at Uber. She was also named Financial Times Person of the Year by the British business newspaper Financial Times.
In April 2017, Fowler joined the payment processing company Stripe as the editor-in-chief of a new quarterly publication called Increment. She also started a science book club and published a book on microservices.
- Kuchler, Hannah (February 24, 2017). "Susan Fowler, the techie taking on Uber". Financial Times. Retrieved November 11, 2017.(subscription required)
- Cleary, Tom (February 20, 2017). "Susan Fowler Rigetti: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber – probably this is the mentioned blog post.
- Blumberg, Peter (August 24, 2017). "Ex-Uber Engineer Asks Supreme Court to Learn From Her Ordeal". Bloomberg.com.
- Guynn, Jessica; della Cava, Marco (October 25, 2017). "Harvey Weinstein effect: Men are getting outed and some are getting fired as women speak up. And it's spreading". USA Today. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Morse, Brittany (October 2, 2017). "Elon Musk, Susan Fowler, and Mark Zuckerberg Join Tech's Biggest Names in 'New Establishment' List". Inc.com. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Kim, Lilian (December 6, 2017). "Two Bay Area women on Time cover for 'Person of the Year'". ABC News.
- Hook, Leslie (December 12, 2017). "FT Person of the Year: Susan Fowler". Financial Times. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
- Lawler, Ryan (April 13, 2017). "Susan Fowler joins Stripe as editor-in-chief of new quarterly publication Increment". TechCrunch.
- Hartmans, Avery (July 23, 2018). "The engineer who blew the whistle on Uber's culture of sexual harassment was just hired by The New York Times". Business Insider. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
- Bhuiyan, Johana (February 20, 2017). "A former Uber employee's disturbing claims of workplace sexism reignite calls to #deleteUber". Recode. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- Dowd, Maureen (October 21, 2017). "She's 26, and Brought Down Uber's C.E.O. What's Next?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Swisher, Kara (June 21, 2017). "With her blog post about toxic bro-culture at Uber, Susan Fowler proved that one person can make a difference". Recode. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
- "Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler has book deal". The Mercury News. The Associated Press. November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017.