“I didn’t see a lot of women, especially Asian women, black women or other women of color in the executive ranks,”
An Asian woman has spoken up about leaving Google due to racial discrimination.
In an interview with The Guardian, Qinchen Zhang revealed her exposure to racial discrimination in the giant tech firm.
Working as a technical specialist in New York, Zhang said she was shocked when a white male colleague began mocking her about her hiring.
“He said, ‘It must’ve been really easy for you to get your job because you’re an Asian woman and people assume you’re good at math,’” Zhang said. “It was absolutely stunning. I remember me just emotionally shutting down.”
Zhang said he felt isolated as a woman of colour working for Google.
“I didn’t see a lot of women, especially Asian women, black women or other women of color in the executive ranks,” she said. “I didn’t see any opportunities for myself … The culture there is really discouraging, and that’s ultimately why I left.”
The 27-year-old who now works for Spotify added that Google’s reputation as intolerant towards discrimination is untrue.
“Google is seen as the pinnacle … a cultural beacon for a lot of people in the tech industry. People really try to emulate Google. The fact that the bar is so low really sets an example for the rest of the industry,” she said.
“People had this broad concept of ‘racism doesn’t exist at Google and sexism doesn’t exist at Google’,” she added. “Just because your officemates aren’t saying racial slurs out loud doesn’t mean they’re not racist.”
The Harvard graduate was hired at Google in 2013 and was thrilled initially. She said she loved the “don’t be evil” motto and its leading reputation as “politically progressive” by “using technology to improve the world.”
“Everybody wants to work at Google,” she said.
However, over time she began feeling “disposable” and not appreciated as an engineer. She claims her situation worsened due to the fact that most engineers and managers were male.
“It’s just these little daily aggressions that really add up over time,” she said.“Having a lack of people who look like you in general is demoralizing.”
Zhang recognises Google’s priorities in promoting a good and transparent public image, but claims that within the company, things are murkier.
“They care about getting good press, but they don’t actually want to put in the work to understand racism and sexism.”