Girls Who Code Accepts $1.2M From Uber. Black Girls Code Turns Down $125K

Written by Dana Sanchez

Uber, which has faced a tsunami of trouble this year over sexual harassment allegations, pledged $1.2 million to Girls Who Code, and Uber’s new chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John is joining the board of the nonprofit that works to close the gender gap in tech by teaching girls how to code.

The money comes from Uber’s $3 million diversity fund.

Other recipients of the diversity fund include Black Girls Code, which turned down $125,000 from the fund, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant told TechCrunch.

“Uber seems to be looking to make amends to the tech industry in light of its tumultuous year that kicked off with former engineer Susan Fowler’s allegations of sexual harassment and management issues at the company,” Tech Crunch reported.

Uber has not proved itself a welcoming place for women, CNN reported. In February, Fowler published a blog post that forced Uber to address systemic sexism and a toxic work culture. Valued at $68 billion, the transportation startup then launched a months-long internal investigation into its workforce culture. That ended with top executives being fired including CEO Travis Kalanick.

The investigation and subsequent coverage had a chilling effect on Uber partnerships, CNN reported:

In May, the Anita Borg Institute — the organization behind the annual Grace Hopper Conference, the largest gathering of women in computing that takes place every fall — cut ties with Uber.

Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant told TechCrunch why she turned down $125,000.:

“My decision is layered,” Bryant said. “I’ve been quite open for some time about the fact that we as an org use Uber as a tool. We’re also headquartered in the city (Oakland) where they have planned to move. So I’ve been open to the notion that they can transform themselves. Yet their past history and ‘political’ nature of maneuvering is and was troubling.”

Bryant went on to say that Uber has given very little money to Oakland and that it’s a bit disingenuous to see such a large grant go to Girls Who Code. She added, it “seems a bit tone-deaf to really addressing real change in how they are moving towards both inclusion and equity. It appears to be more PR driven than actually focused on real change. So we turned it down.”

Some people aren’t happy that Girls Who Code accepted Uber’s money. In light of sexual harassment at the company, some say Uber’s money should have gone to an organization that supports women in tech or victims of sexual harassment.

“What’s the point of offering women avenues to learn web/software skills if we’re going to then lead them astray by recommending they work at a company that actively harms them?” asked Corinne Warnshuis, executive director of nonprofit Girl Develop It, in a series of tweets. “That’s the worst outcome.”

Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, said in a statement she was happy to have Saint John on our board.

“Now more than ever it’s important to see strong female leadership in the tech industry,” she said. “Bozoma exemplifies this.”

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