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This “Me Too” Timeline Shows Why 2017 Was A Reckoning For Sexism

We’ve plotted over 30 of the year’s biggest turning points.

This “Me Too” Timeline Shows Why 2017 Was A Reckoning For Sexism
[Photos: Flickr user VeryBusyPeople; hakkiarslan/iStock; Michael Wuertenberg/Wikimedia Commons]

Sexism is as old as time. But since last year’s presidential election placed a known sexual predator in the highest office in the nation,  momentum for women to speak out has been building. 

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A lot has happened in a year, so we’ve created a timeline of some of the biggest turning points against harassment and inequality in 2017.

[Photo: Flickr user Mobilus In Mobili]

January 20

The Women’s March on Washington, conceived in the aftermath of the presidential election, was categorized as the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history. The event brought together protesters across the globe in opposition to the Trump administration’s stance on women’s rights, reproductive rights, immigration, health care reform, education, and climate change. Attendance was estimated between to be near 1 million in D.C, alone and totaling between 2 million and 5 million with the participation of over 600 “sister marches” in cities around the world.

February 8

Senate Republicans try to use a little-known rule to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during a lengthy critique criticizing attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) Warren refused to be quiet, prompting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s defense: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” inadvertently launching a meme of feminist resistance.

February 19

Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler publishes a blog post about her experience with sexual harassment and the lack of response from HR at the ride-hailing company. Her post prompted investigation into a cutthroat culture that rewarded top performers regardless of their behaviors. 

February 23

Waves of customers delete Uber’s app in response to the sexual harassment allegations.

[Photo: Flickr user freestocks.org]

February 27

Uber’s head of engineering leaves the company and eight other executives follow in the ensuing months.

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April 5

Amid reports that Fox News settled roughly $13 million worth of lawsuits over the years to address female employees’ complaints about its star on-air personality Bill O’Reilly, as many as 80 advertisers pulled their spots from his show.

[Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

April 17

Sexual assault survivors plan a protest outside of Fox News to urge the network to fire Bill O’Reilly.

April 19

Fox News fires O’Reilly while on he is on vacation.

May 1

Suzanne Scott is promoted to president of programming at Fox News following the dismissal of Bill Shine, the network’s co-president, who was forced out for enabling toxic behavior.

June 6

Uber fires 20 employees  in the wake of the continued investigation into sexual harassment at the company.

Travis Kalanick [Photo: flickr user TechCrunch]

June 21

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns following demands of five of its major investors.

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June 23

LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman urges investors to sign a decency pledge to stop harassment.

June 25

Binary Capital’s Justin Caldbeck and partner Matt Mazzeo officially resign in wake of sexual harassment allegations by several female entrepreneurs including Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of the online clothing startup Stitch Fix.

[Photo: Flickr user Web Summit]

June 30

The New York Times publishes the accounts of more than two dozen women in the tech industry who were sexually harassed. The report included the names of high profile VCs including Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups.

July 12

Twitter’s former CEO Dick Costolo says the decency pledge is not enough and investors need to fund more women and people of color.

[Photo: courtesy of Google]

August 5

A lengthy document written by a Google senior software engineer that detailed what he believed to be the company’s “ideological echo chamber” specifically with regards to gender differences gets published by Motherboard and goes viral.

August 6

Two senior Google executives including Danielle Brown, the company’s newly hired VP of diversity, and Aristotle Balogh, a VP of  engineering, condemn the memo.

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August 7

Google CEO Sundar Pichai responds to the memo and fires the employee

August 24

Susan Fowler filed a petition with the Supreme Court calling into question the practice of forced arbitration when employees are asked to give up their right to jury trials and class action suits that enable corporate abuse. Investigation into her former employer Uber uncovered over 200 cases of harassment.

Taylor Swift [Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage]

August 15

Taylor Swift wins a years-long legal battle against a DJ who grabbed her butt during a photo shoot.

August 29

Fast Company reports on two female founders who combatted sexism and condescension in the startup world by creating an imaginary male cofounder for their e-commerce marketplace. The story gets picked up by countless other outlets and goes viral.

September 14

Three women filed a class action lawsuit against their former employer Google claiming that the company is violating labor laws by paying women less than men for “substantially similar work” and “segregated” them into lower-paying jobs.

September 19

Following five years of silence in the aftermath of filing (and losing) her sexual discrimination lawsuit against venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins, Ellen Pao speaks out about enduring years of sexism and scrutiny in her memoir, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change. 

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[Photo: J. Countess/Getty Images]

October 5

The New York Times and the New Yorker separately publish exposes of film producer Harvey Weinstein that detail numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein publishes a public apology but plans to sue the paper.

October 9

Weinstein is fired by his production company in light of more allegations.

October 12

Actress Rose McGowan denounces Weinstein and other Hollywood A-listers for harassment on Twitter and has her account shut down by the platform for a violation of its privacy code.

October 13

Television producer Isa Hackett accused Amazon’s programming chief, Roy Price, of sexual harassment.

[Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images]

October 16

Actress Alyssa Milano sparks a movement with a hashtag on Facebook and Twitter. The #metoo campaign encourages women and men to share their stories of harassment in hopes of shedding light on the magnitude of the problem. (The “Me Too” movement originated with Tarana Burke using the phrase in 2006 after an experience with sexual violence.)

October 18

Amazon’s Roy Price resigns following harassment allegations. 

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October 19

Lockhart Steele, a creator of popular websites such as Curbed and Racked, is fired by Vox following allegations of a former employee.

Steele joins a growing list of men across industries to be accused of harassment. Others include director Brett Ratner, actor Dustin Hoffman, and PBS’s Charlie Rose. More names are added daily.

November 9

Susan Fowler inks a book deal to write a guide for women working in challenging environments and to discuss her personal experience with sexism and harassment at Uber. Fowler also has a movie deal.

Director Ridley Scott removes and replaces Kevin Spacey in a completed feature film just days before its release. The decision came after the studio wanted to pull the film from the AFI Festival after the sexual assault and harassment allegations made against Spacey.

November 10

Five women go on the record to detail how Louis CK sexually assaulted them. The comedian admits his wrongdoing and is subsequently let go from HBO. Orchard Studios will no longer distribute his new film.

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[Photo: Lorie Shaull/Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons]

November 16

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls for an Ethics Committee investigation of Senator Al Franken after he is accused of groping a colleague during a USO Tour.

November 21

President Trump defends U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior by multiple women, many of whom were teenagers at the time.

[Photo: Flickr user Alan Kotok]

November 29

Garrison Keillor is fired by Minnesota Public Radio for inappropriate behavior.

NBC’s Today show also announces via tweet that longtime host Matt Lauer has been terminated for “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

December 4

Concerned that many victims of harassment still fear being fired or blackballed, advocacy group Women in Film set up a hotline to provide them with support or connect them to an attorney.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg writes a lengthy post detailing her own experiences with sexual harassment and warns of rumors that suggest a backlash will make executives reluctant to hire women in the future. Sandberg urges men not to “just hire women,” but to “mentor, advise, and promote them,” too.

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[Photo: courtesy of Time Magazine]

December 6

Time magazine names “The Silence Breakers” its “Person of the Year”  and publishes the stories of many of the women (and men) who have come forward to report their experiences of harassment, discrimination, and abuse.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) leads a growing group of Democrats who are calling for Senator Franken to resign.

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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