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Microsoft Businesses The Courts Technology

Three Women Suing Microsoft for Bias Want To Add 8,630 Peers (bloomberg.com) 246

A reader shares a report: A lawsuit accusing Microsoft of discriminating against women in technical and engineering roles is poised to grow a lot bigger if it wins class-action status. With the technology sector awash in challenges to white male dominance, the three women spearheading the case against Microsoft told a Seattle federal judge they want to represent about 8,630 peers who have worked for the company since 2012. The women said their expert consultants have determined that discrimination at the Redmond, Washington-based company cost female employees more than 500 promotions and $100 million to $238 million in pay, according to Oct. 27 court filings. They also accused the software maker of maintaining "an abusive, toxic 'boy's club' atmosphere, where women are ignored, abused, or degraded." Microsoft said it strongly disagrees with the allegations, saying the filings "mischaracterize data and other information."
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Three Women Suing Microsoft for Bias Want To Add 8,630 Peers

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  • . . . .was working for Microsoft. . . .(rimshot)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a male who worked at a sausage party fortune 3 company in their "cyber defence" dept with only white males; tbh i see what they are saying. Multiple times I thought "are they really doing this? Yes they are". Racist jokes are the "black friend", making "curry" jokes around Indians, talking about which chick in xyz dept to "bang" or "her hair is JBF".... Needless to say I left that company. If a woman did bring a class action on the co I'd definitely be on their side....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houghi ( 78078 )

      Where I work I hear these jokes about black people all the time from black people. No problem there, right? But when a white girl, who is marries to a black guy and has 3 kids with him made a joke and she was called a racist (by one person. The other black people thought it was funny)

      So you can make jokes about your own stereotype, but not another. Got it.

      But when I say "These stupid foreigners are so lazy They should send them back to their own country" I am STILL a racist, even if I am the only foreigner

  • by Roger Wilcox ( 776904 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @11:53AM (#55464203)

    They will distort reality to entitle themselves to whatever the fuck they want, paint you misogynist, and then sue you in a case with worldwide visibility.

    If you had never hired them in the first place, then you wouldn't owe them anything and you wouldn't have to deal with this shit.

    Seriously... you want to be treated like an equal? Take your lumps like the rest of us and stop making a big fucking stink out of the fact that you are a woman.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Your comment is asinine. I'm sure there are women who use their gender as an excuse to get ahead while not working hard. However, it is completely unreasonable to use that as grounds to jot hire any women. We shouldn't be so politically correct as to label opinions we don't like as misogynistic or racist, because it's counterproductive in addressing the issues at hand. Your comment, however, truly is misogynistic because it applies the stereotype to all women.

      • There are people who do not hire women because of this. Whole departments turn into locker rooms and they fear getting sued because someone slips up in front of a female that "isn't cool" or they just don't want to put all the guys under the pressure of having to watch their tongue. I have been on teams where some women were "just one of the guys" though.

    • by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @12:00PM (#55464257)

      On the other hand, men I've worked with seem convinced that they should get paid far more for doing minimal work of questionable quality. When they aren't promoted for this work they cause a big stink, complaining about how they are not treated like they deserve.

      The women I've worked with are usually quietly competent. For the most part they weren't brilliant but they weren't idiots either. If I want to point out the biggest idiots around my workplace it is usually a man.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        So what you're really saying is that all boils down to "sales" and the men are better at "sales". It really has squat to do with "gender discrimination". This isn't the fault of the company or the industry. It's a lingering effect of social indoctrination that "vile geeks" have absolutely no control over.

        We continue to raise girls as victims and then are shocked when they become one.

        • Which is often saying something in an engineering company when the majority of workers are slightly to heavily introverted. I HATE negotiating in yearly reviews but after my pay kept getting crappier I started pushing hard for a bigger raise every time, with some results.

        • So what you're really saying is that all boils down to "sales" and the men are better at "sales". It really has squat to do with "gender discrimination". This isn't the fault of the company or the industry.

          Not exactly. While the industry insists on using "sales" (or metrics, for that matter) as a proxy for aptitude or merit, the industry is at least partly to blame.

      • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @12:12PM (#55464335)

        I've worked with some quiet, competent women and some loudmouthed, entitled, idiotic women. But I've also worked with some quiet, competent men and some loudmouthed, entitled, idiotic men.

        I really don't think it's aligned to gender.

      • You can almost set your watch by it - every time the topic of "women in tech" comes up on any message board, somebody (who makes sure to identify himself as a white man) will come along and say something along the lines of "every woman I've ever worked with was the most brilliant programmer I've ever met, and every incompetent clown I've ever known has been a (white) man". If you based your opinions by just what you read on Slashdot (and reddit and hackernews and quora and...) you'd assume that there's nev
        • Never said they were brilliant, just quietly competent in appearance with the men ranging both above and below. Of course I could be assuming the competence due to the quiet but where I work, the most vocal idiots are the men. Fortunately I can count that number on one hand in recent memory and the vastly larger number of men where I work means there are almost less women I can count as having actually worked with than the total number of blatantly incompetent people in my company. Maybe I'm too tolerant

        • But the GP didn't say that, you literally just made up that interpretation to devalue what he had to say, which was, FWIW, correct.

          I too an a white man. I too have met many competent and incompetent programmers, but of the female programmers most were quiet and competent, and I only remember one who I felt was incompetent, whereas I've met a lot of incompetent male programmers with an entitled attitude.

          You will, of course, be incapable of reading the above as anything other than "ALL WOMEN ARE SMART AN

      • This is incorrect--men do not create a big stink over the scenario you present. when was the last time you saw a highly visible lawsuit where a man demands money from his employer for doing "minimal work of questionable quality?"

        No, in this scenario the man either works harder, finds a new job, or sucks it up and accepts his position*.

        * or goes on an office-wide shooting spree. YMMV

        • Not talking as large a stink as a lawsuit, don't know anyone in the companies that I work at that went that far. But I know a very specific male engineer who got hired into our company. The first thing he started doing is asking about other people's job titles. When he found out that there were job titles above his, he pushed for a promotion to the highest job title, the first week after he started. Most of the rest of the time he spent doing little work and continuing to push for promotion, up until ma

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          A lawsuit over systemic gender discrimination is hardly the same thing as kicking up a fuss when you feel you are simply not paid enough. One is a legal right based on practices within the organization, the other is your estimation of your market worth.

      • Survivor bias.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      On the one hand, it is possible that women are being victimized by an unfair bias.

      On the other hand, it is possible that women are seeking special treatment and using bogus claims of bias to get it.

      In my experience, both are probably true. Most people are shitty people, so most employers will act on unfair biases and most employees will demand unreasonable special treatment...both will point at the other's bullshit in order to justify their own.

    • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @12:08PM (#55464315)

      They will distort reality to entitle themselves to whatever the fuck they want

      And we let them. What; never been in a relationship?!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rastl ( 955935 )

      They will distort reality to entitle themselves to whatever the fuck they want, paint you misogynist, and then sue you in a case with worldwide visibility. If you had never hired them in the first place, then you wouldn't owe them anything and you wouldn't have to deal with this shit. Seriously... you want to be treated like an equal? Take your lumps like the rest of us and stop making a big fucking stink out of the fact that you are a woman.

      Get off your fucking high horse. I'm a female coder and have bee

      • Take all of the gender out of what you just said and you very closely approximate where most guys are coming from: We are treated like equals because we demand it. I don't have to put up with your shit, I'm a professional and competent at what I do. That is it.

        Some women don't want to be called a "bitch" so they don't demand equal treatment. They doormat themselves. Then, after not standing up for themselves for years they assert it is everyone else's fault they don't have the promotion they never told

        • Some women don't want to be called a "bitch" so they don't demand equal treatment. They doormat themselves. Then, after not standing up for themselves for years they assert it is everyone else's fault they don't have the promotion they never told anyone they wanted.

          Do you call men bitches or something equivalent if they demand equal treatment? If a woman is being self-effacing because she doesn't want to be called a bitch, there's probably reasons for that. She's not being treated equally when she deman

          • I don't call anyone a bitch, except for my wife, and then only when she has done something surprising, exceedingly pleasant, and beautiful for me, unbidden, without expectation of recompense, and straight from her vastly perceptive heart to mine. Hearing her laugh is, to me, the most beautiful sound in the world. Under the the previously described circumstances if I call her a "vicious irrational bitch" in the right tone of voice I am rewarded with rare peals of her laughter and we share a moment of unpar

    • Just like those pesky slaves who had the audacity to fight for equality. They should just have just sucked it up.
    • Well, isn't this just some textbook sexism.

      Basically you're saying all women are guilty because of the actions of a few and therefore because that woman over there did something you should't hire that other woman because she's guilty by association.

      paint you misogynist,

      You are: you appear to think all women are bad.

      PS, I think you forgot to post AC.

  • How can you prove a company systematically discriminated against a certain group of people? Are a few testimonies enough? Wouldn't those only prove that specific people was discriminated against?
    I don't like discrimination but also don't like people who play victim
    • Among other things you can dig through reviews and salary data. If there is a consistent trend of females in the same job title and years of experience with equivalent review scores getting lower salaries/raises and fewer promotions you have about as clear cut evidence of discrimination as you are going to get.

      Sure there are "ambulance chaser" type lawyers out there, but I don't know what so many people jump to concluding these sorts of suits are all frivolous.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        What's the actual proof standard, though?

        Microsoft is a huge company in a rapidly evolving sector. I'd worry you'd never be able to demonstrate any kind of substantive "equality" in jobs based on title alone -- there'd always be exceptions trotted out for this or that, greatly minimizing if not nullifying the ability to just run the numbers.

        "Her performance was great, except that Office always peaks 6 months after the revision is bumped, so it was a judgement call as to whether her performance really impro

        • You're talking about individual cases. There will be all sorts of individual cases. However, if men have a clear advantage in raises and promotions, given their data (and large companies will keep data and have lots of comparable cases), it's reasonable to conclude that the environment is sexist.

  • I think that for a company as large as Microsoft, it should be easy to get a credible sample size of witnesses to describe their experience working there, and records of hiring practices, to either confirm or discredit this claim.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <[moc.cam] [ta] [rcj]> on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @12:54PM (#55464707) Journal

    From what I've heard, they have a toxic culture that makes life miserable for most of them, not just women.

    -jcr

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @01:01PM (#55464775)

    "an abusive, toxic 'boy's club' atmosphere, where women are ignored, abused, or degraded." Microsoft said it strongly disagrees with the allegations, saying "we ignore, abuse and degrade underlings regardless of gender."

    FTFY. ;)

  • ... would be hard to find.

  • This is the way it should happen... you have six different cases involving a dozen women or less with very specific evidence and testimony. You win all those cases and establish a pattern. Then you file for class action.

  • by FuegoFuerte ( 247200 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @02:32PM (#55465397)

    Really, who comes up with this drivel?

    Has anyone noticed that the CEO is not a white male? How about the top HR person? Most of management? Microsoft is FAR from being a place where white male dominance is a thing. In fact, on the team I was on for several years, it was commonly observed that the best way to not get a promotion was to be white. It didn't really matter if you were a white male or white female, you were probably getting a mediocre to poor review no matter what you had done, so that someone the same race as the director could get the promotion. If you were a female from the same part of the world and were sufficiently subservient, you might also get a promotion, but us uppity white folk were last in line (in addition to being last to leave the building every night).

    There are a lot of problems with the culture of Microsoft, and racism *is* one of them, but it's certainly not white-dominant racism. The biggest difference is, as a white male, I don't have a voice if I try to claim discrimination. My recourse is pretty much limited to either "shut up and deal with it" or "find a better company to work for." So, after years of the first option, I finally took the second option. That's white male privilege at work right there... "you're a white male, so you have the privilege to shut up and take it or get the hell out."

  • Surprising math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @04:09PM (#55466055)

    $238 million for 8630 employees over 5 years comes out to about $5,500/year/employee.

    That's a lot less than I would have expected for an upper limit at this early of a stage in the proceedings, when numbers are typically very optimistic in order to leave headroom for surprises as the case evolves.

    I'd imagine that means their reasonable expectation of what they'll be able to show is quite a bit less than that, and maybe quite a bit less than even the $100 million (about $2,300/year/employee).

  • Well, perhaps more than white males should take IT courses. Women, by far and large, would rather work in other STEM fields over tech. Throwing in this not so subtle jab just detracts from everything else. It's incredibly racist and sexist.

  • Wow, so three women in a company of thousands know what happened to 8,630 other women over the last five years? That's almost... unbelievable.
  • If you talk about this you are either sexist or virtue signaling, there is very little room for being a geek or nerd in this conversation without being called one of these two things in a polarizing debate, everyone seems to be trying to win instead of settle.

    Ok, that said, I want to point out something that seems obvious to me. Much of this conversation revolves around competence instead of interest in the field. Second thing I notice is women have different power structures to men and this is something

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