A Black female engineer at Google was mistaken for an administrative assistant by the company CEO Eric Schmidt.
Erica Joy Baker spoke to the New Yorker about her experience working for Google from 2006 to 2015 in an in depth look at Silicon Valley’s gender discrimination problem.
Baker, who is now a senior engineer at Patreon, described a 2009 incident where she worked in a group that was providing technical support for the company’s top executives. Schmidt came looking for help and specifically asked for Frank, a colleague of Baker’s, who happened to be out that day.
When Baker offered to help Schmidt, she recalled that the CEO asked her to leave a message for Frank detailing a particular issue. When she confirmed that she could handle it, Schmidt asked, “Oh, you’re not [Frank’s] assistant?’
According to the article, the CEO then suggested that Baker put a sign on her door explaining her role, even though that was not customary office procedure.
Though that was one particular incident, Baker said that Google employees often confused her with the other Black woman in her team.
“We used to jokingly call ourselves the Twins, even though we don’t look anything alike,” Baker told the New Yorker.
A report by Google that was released in June shows that 20 percent of Google’s technical jobs in the U.S. are occupied by women, and only one percent are occupied by Black people.