Rape jokes are just the tip of the iceberg
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As more employees step forward about inappropriate behavior in the workplace, we’ve begun to slowly discover the extent of sexism in American offices. It appears one of the biggest corporations in the country, Apple, is the latest offender. According to an extensive report by Mic, Apple’s female employees have been facing an uphill battle to dismantle rampant sexism within the workplace.
One woman, pseudonymously named Danielle, alleged that her struggle to be heard began after one of her male coworkers made an unabashed joke about rape. As a female engineer working in a male-dominated environment, Danielle admits to being used to the gender imbalance. Only, this string of emails clearly went too far, prompting Danielle to speak out about the “very toxic atmosphere” her male colleagues created with their flippant regard for violent sexual assault.
Right away, Danielle reportedly reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook. In an email she shared with Mic, Danielle wrote that she did “not feel safe at a company that tolerates individuals who make rape jokes.” According to Mic, she never heard back from Cook.
At Apple, women make up just under a third of the company’s global workforce. The problems don’t just end with rape jokes. Several other female Apple employees reached out in support of Danielle and shared accounts of alleged discrimination and workplace harassment (they similarly remained anonymous for fear of losing their jobs). Out of the more than fifty pages of emails Mic obtained, there are a few comments that expertly highlight this pervasive issue.
As a former employee reportedly wrote in another email shared with Mic, many of these issues revolve around simply not being heard. “Despite all attempts to seek justice within this corporation,” the employee wrote, “the cries of several minority employees about the toxic and oppressive environment have gone unanswered.”
Apple employee Claire explained to Mic that Apple reportedly did not conduct exit interviews with several employees who expressed dissatisfaction with the “white, male, Christian, misogynist, sexist environment” when they quit. “Their departure is being written up as a positive attrition,” she said.
One male employee allegedly backed up complaints and explained how the rampant sexism affected men as well, stating,
“Why I felt I would be retaliated against was the fact that I would consistently be referred to as an emotional man that resembled having the qualities of a woman. Any male can tell you that being referred to as a woman is an insinuation that you are not strong enough or stable enough to handle the difficulties of life or work in the way a man can.”
In August, the Harvard Business Review released a study on why so many women leave the engineering field early or before they launch their careers, citing the "hegemonic masculine culture of engineering" as the primary factor. As technology continues to dominate our everyday lives, it will become increasingly important for influential companies like Apple to walk the talk and back up promises of inclusive working environments. Because systems that only work for some people effectively work for nobody.
For the full report on Apple’s toxic work culture, head over to Mic.