By Mark Wilson
A former Google engineer revealed on Twitter this weekend that she suffered sexual harassment whilst working at the company. In a series of tweets, Kelly Ellis said that not only had she been sexually harassed by a male colleague, but that her promotion through the company had been effectively curtailed because she would have been in a position that meant reporting to her harasser.
There is more than a hint of irony at the timing of the revelation. Google would much prefer to be seen encouraging women into technology but Ellis — who worked on the Google+ team — dismisses this as nothing more than “PR bullshit”. She also says that she was let down by co-workers who failed to back her up.
Now working as a software engineer at Medium, Ellis says that the harassment was the main reason she left the company back in July. She says “I don’t care if people believe me or not”, but, we have to refer to what she says as allegations. She says that Roderick Chavez, another Google engineer, harassed her:
Ellis says that she reacted badly to something he said and ended up pouring a drink over his head. Rather than focusing on the harassment that led her to react in such a way, Ellis says that Google’s HR department instead concentrated on the humiliation caused to Chavez by being soaked.
It seems that this is not an isolated incident, and Ellis refers to a male-dominated environment at Google in which she not only felt uncomfortable, but was subjected to inappropriate comments. She took to Google+ to ask former colleagues why they had not helped her out or spoken out. She says she felt trapped and unsupported, and ultimately had to leave Google:
My choices were: speak up loudly, lose my job, burn bridges (which is what I’ve now done), leave quietly (which is what I did later after realizing it wasn’t changing), or not say anything (which is what I initially did).
Kelly Ellis has indicated that she does not intend to speak to the press about the events she has written about, and Google is yet to respond to the allegations. We have reached out to the company for comment, but we’re yet to hear back.