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Book cover via Penguin Random House

In February 2017, Susan Fowler's "reflection on one very, very strange year at Uber" precipitated the downfall of Uber's founding CEO Travis Kalanick — and marked the point at which the entire national conversation about technology companies shifted from cheerleading to skepticism.

  • Fowler went quiet after her blog post was published, but now, three years later, she's back with a memoir, "Whistleblower," that promises to start a new conflagration of its own. This time, the system being indicted is not Uber, or even Silicon Valley more broadly, but the entire American patriarchy.

Fowler is a truly extraordinary woman. As a girl born into deeply religious poverty, she home-schooled herself through high school while, she writes, being allowed "no female friends who did not go to church, no male friends whatsoever, and certainly no boyfriends."

She fought her way into Arizona State University and then the University of Pennsylvania through the sheer force of her thirst for knowledge, but continued to encounter appalling sexism.

  • Penn treated Fowler atrociously. She encountered serious sexual harassment and discrimination and found herself the person punished — the school prevented her from receiving an MA in philosophy and a BA in physics, and dashed her dreams of getting a physics PhD.

Unable to remain in academia, Fowler went to work as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, but the sexism persisted — first at Plaid, then at PubNub, and then, famously, at Uber.

  • Fowler's first-hand account of the duplicity and dysfunction at Uber is genuinely shocking. The company would have gotten away with it, too, just as they had countless times in the past, were it not for Fowler's unique background, which made her both compelled and able to speak out.

While the media narrative is dominated by #MeToo stories of sexual assault, "Whistleblower" masterfully pulls back the camera.

  • Fowler details a world of sexual discrimination, retaliation, and a broader culture where women's careers are simply not valued as highly as men's. Her's is not a story of Bad Men; in fact, much of the sexism she encountered was at the hands of women.
  • There's no doubt that it continues, unabated, to this day.

The bottom line: Fowler's left arm is tattooed with a phrase from Ovid: "Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata." American society did its very best to prevent her from succeeding. Her life, and this book, represents her triumph over almost inconceivable odds.

Go deeper

28 mins ago - Health

FDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill

The Merck Cherokee Plant in Riverside, Pennsylvania. Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday voted 13-10 to endorse an antiviral pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to treat adults at high risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, despite concerns over its effectiveness and safety.

Why it matters: Oral antiviral drugs designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be key pandemic-fighting tools, if proven effective, especially as new variants emerge. If authorized, the Merck drug, known as molnupiravir, would be the first treatment of its kind to be made available in the United States.

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 6 wounded

Screengrab: CBSN

Three people dead and six others are wounded after a shooting at a high school in Michigan according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Driving the news: The alleged shooter was a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High School and has been arrested, per police.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.