Whistleblower: My Unlikely Journey to Silicon Valley and Speaking Out Against Injustice (Paperback)
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“A powerful illustration of the obstacles our society continues to throw up in the paths of ambitious young women.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Important . . . empowering.” —Gayle King, CBS This Morning
"That [Fowler] became a whistle-blower and a pioneer of a social movement almost seems inevitable once you get to know her. Uber should have seen her coming.” —San Francisco Chronicle
Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR
Susan Fowler was just twenty-five years old when her blog post describing the sexual harassment and retaliation she'd experienced at Uber riveted the nation. Her post would eventually lead to the ousting of Uber's powerful CEO, but its ripples extended far beyond that, as her courageous choice to attach her name to the post inspired other women to speak publicly about their experiences. In the year that followed, an unprecedented number of women came forward, and Fowler was recognized by Time as one of the "Silence Breakers" who ignited the #MeToo movement.
Here, she shares her full story: a story of extraordinary determination and resilience that reveals what it takes--and what it means--to be a whistleblower. Long before she arrived at Uber, Fowler's life had been defined by her refusal to accept her circumstances. She propelled herself from an impoverished childhood with little formal education to the Ivy League, and then to a coveted position at one of the most valuable companies in the history of Silicon Valley. Each time she was mistreated, she fought back or found a way to reinvent herself; all she wanted was the opportunity to define her own dreams and work to achieve them. But when she discovered Uber's pervasive culture of sexism, racism, harassment, and abuse, and that the company would do nothing about it, she knew she had to speak out—no matter what it cost her.
Whistleblower takes us deep inside this shockingly toxic workplace and reveals new details about the aftermath of the blog post, in which Fowler was investigated and followed, hacked and threatened, to the point that she feared for her life. But even as it illuminates how the deck is stacked in favor of the status quo, Fowler's story serves as a crucial reminder that we can take our power back. Both moving personal narrative and rallying cry, Whistleblower urges us to be the heroes of our own stories, and to keep fighting for a more just and equitable world.
About the Author
A contributing opinion writer and the former technology op-ed editor at The New York Times, Susan Fowler has been named a "Person of the Year" by Time, The Financial Times, and the Webby Awards, and has appeared on Fortune's "40 Under 40" list, Vanity Fair's New Establishment List, Marie Claire's New Guard list, the Bloomberg 50, the Upstart 50, the Recode 100, and more. She is the author of a book on computer programming that has been implemented by companies across Silicon Valley, and a forthcoming novel from William Morrow.
“Sharp and engrossing . . . A powerful illustration of the obstacles our society continues to throw up in the paths of ambitious young women, and the ways that institutions still protect and enable badly behaving men.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“This is not just a book for people interested in the culture of Silicon Valley. Like all the best books, it delivers the reader into a fully drawn world she may never have imagined . . . At times it reads like a spy thriller, at others like a satire of what might happen when corporate overlords go unchecked . . . It is not just a book about harassment or inequality; it is the story of a woman navigating a world that would rather not deal with her . . . The details around her experience at Uber are the sizzle; Fowler’s own story is the steak. She’s an unlikely hero, unconnected, anachronistic and almost irritatingly admirable, a woman blessed with unending curiosity and an exceptional facility to learn. That she became a whistle-blower and a pioneer of a social movement almost seems inevitable once you get to know her. Uber should have seen her coming.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Gut-wrenching . . . An intimate first-person account that doubles as a warning . . . [Whistleblower is] the story of how Fowler’s life was shaped by her time at Uber—but a story, too, of her fight for a life that would not succumb to the company’s influence . . . Fowler’s story—her full story—is the indictment. That is what gives Whistleblower its power.”
“It’s easy to focus on what happened to Fowler . . . But in her new memoir, Fowler makes a dedicated plea for you to focus, instead, on what she did about it . . . [Whistleblower] does provide more eyebrow-raising details about just how hostile and chaotic Uber's workplace was. But Fowler is much more interested in unpacking how—and why—she responded by going public . . . This memoir is a bit of a how-to book, too, with some take-home lessons for anyone discouraged by a hostile workplace.”
“[An] earnest retelling of one woman’s effort to go to school and do her job in environments that were actively hostile to her existence and well-being . . . One can only imagine the alternate reality in which Fowler and her ilk were the ones hailed as geniuses and given all the money in this world to build a better one.”
—The Washington Post
“[Whistleblower] broadens the view beyond Uber, offering a clear-eyed exploration of what workplace sexual discrimination looks like, why it’s so toxic and how it destroys ambitions, careers and lives.”
“[D]espite the title of her book, Fowler defies one-word labels. She is a musician, a writer, a physicist, a philosopher . . . Less the story of how Fowler became a victim, Whistleblower is more of a guide to how she became a hero . . . Though [the] lessons are universal, Fowler’s account is intensely personal . . . She paints a picture of a ferociously independent and determined person.”
“There’s a good case that Uber would still have its notoriously toxic workplace culture were it not for Susan Fowler . . . Whistleblower fills us in on how junior white-collar employees struggled to keep the culture [the CEO] instilled from threatening their sanity, and how one of them was eventually able to tear it down.”
“Whistleblower . . . promises to start a new conflagration of its own. This time, the system being indicted is not Uber, or even Silicon Valley more broadly, but the entire American patriarchy...American society did its very best to prevent her from succeeding. Her life, and this book, represents her triumph over almost inconceivable odds.”
“[Whistleblower] shows the importance of having people who are of strong character, who are willing to stand up to some of the things they see going wrong at these companies and speak up about them.”