Google engineering boss sues web giant over sex discrim: I was paid less than men, snubbed for promotion

Filing alleges less-qualified blokes given all the jobs, too

A technical director is suing Google for allegedly paying her less than male counterparts and promoting less-qualified men to positions for which she was more skilled.

In a filing [PDF] this week in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Ulku Rowe accused Google of discrimination "by hiring her at a lower level and paying her less compensation than her similarly situated male peers, denying her additional earned compensation, and denying her a promotion for which she was the most qualified – instead hiring a less qualified man for the role."

When Rowe complained about her treatment, Google attempted to demote her, the filing claims. She is, right now, a director of engineering at Google Cloud based in New York.

She has more than 20 years' technology experience, a masters in computer science and a BSc in computer engineering, and was previously a managing director and CTO of credit risk technology at JP Morgan Chase.

In March 2017, she joined Google as technical director of financial services at the cloud platform unit. At the time Google was hiring several technical directors for other verticals. Rowe was told she would be hired at level 8. When she suggested her experience meant she should be a level 9 executive, she was told that all the technical directors were paid at level 8.

Rowe later discovered that other male technical directors were hired at level 9, "a level that pays hundreds of thousands of dollars more in total compensation than level 8".

Further, she alleged she was not given "equity refreshes", which she was promised would push her compensation above what she received at JP Morgan, but was instead awarded less than her male counterparts.

The filing further claims that she was overlooked for a veep position in financial services and two less-qualified external candidates were considered instead.

In February 2019, a male candidate was chosen after just six months working for Google following an informal "tap on the shoulder" selection process. Rowe alleged the candidate lacked the necessary technical skills for the job, having trained as an attorney, and claimed he had not been hired according to Google's human resources policies.

In April, Rowe was offered a choice between three positions – all of which she considered demotions.

Rowe said she was a victim of sex-based pay discrimination, gender discrimination and retaliation.

Google told The Register: "We take all complaints about unfair pay seriously. We thoroughly investigated Ms Rowe's complaints regarding unfair pay and level-at-hire and did not substantiate her concerns." ®

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