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Titled “The Elephant in the Valley,” the study demonstrated how intertwined, and how pervasive, these kinds of discrimination are.Eighty-four per cent of the participants reported that they had been told they were “too aggressive” in the office, sixty-six per cent said that they had been excluded from important events because of their gender, and sixty per cent reported unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.One day in 2013, AJ Vandermeyden drove to Tesla’s corporate headquarters, in Palo Alto, California, sat down on a bench outside the main entrance, and waited, in the hope of spotting someone who looked like a company employee.Vandermeyden, who was thirty years old, had been working as a pharmaceutical sales representative since shortly after college, but she wanted a different kind of job, in what seemed to her the center of the world—Silicon Valley.After she found out that he worked in sales, the department she wanted to join, she decided to deliver her pitch to him right then. A few weeks later, she was hired at Tesla as a product specialist in the inside-sales department. After almost a year, she was promoted to the job of engineering project coördinator in the paint department.The new position involved working out of Tesla’s automotive manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, where hundreds of apple-red robot arms assembled Tesla vehicles on a white factory floor.Vandermeyden, who worked closely with a group of eight other employees, soon learned that her salary was lower than that of everyone else in the group, including several new hires who had come to Tesla straight out of college.She was, as it happened, the only woman in the group.
After a long silence, women have come forward to make allegations against other powerful figures, including the film director James Toback; the head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price; and the political analyst Mark Halperin, with new names being added every few days.
Her supervisors, and her supervisors’ supervisors, were male, all the way up the chain, it seemed, to Musk himself.
At Tesla, as at many tech companies, gallows humor prevailed among some of the women.
The company, Musk liked to say, was a “meritocracy,” and Vandermeyden wanted to be a part of it.
Vandermeyden saw a man wearing a Tesla T-shirt and walked over to introduce herself.
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Finally, two months later, Vandermeyden’s managers told her that, in order to be given a raise, she would have to increase the rate of the production line by a hundred per cent within a year.