Ex-Facebook employee says company ordered women to avoid ‘distracting clothing’

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Despite being described as an “indispensable … guide to the new technology establishment” in one particularly glowing review, Chaos Monkeys will likely be excluded from the reading lists of current Facebook employees.

That’s because Former Facebook product manager Antonio Garcia Martinez’s new book about life in Silicon Valley is generating publicity for his ex-employer for all the wrong reasons.

Martinez devotes the entire second half of his fast-paced memoir to the oppressive working conditions at the social network. He compares Facebook’s overbearing internal culture to North Korea, singling out a gender bias that will no doubt irk his one-time colleagues.

Antonio_Garcia_Martinez
Former Facebook employee turned author, Antonio Garcia Martinez

In regards to female workers, Martinez claims they were repeatedly critiqued when it came to their choice of clothing. “Our male HR authority, with occasional backup from his female counterpart, launched into a speech about avoiding clothing that ‘distracted’ coworkers. I’d later learn that managers did in fact occasionally pull aside female employees and read them the riot act,” states Martinez, who was fired after two years at Facebook.

“One such example happened in [the advertising department], with an intern who looked about sixteen coming in regularly in booty shorts. It was almost laughably inappropriate, but such was our disinhibited age,” he adds.

Facebook, like its tech rivals, is known for lacking in the diversity department. A recent report on its employee numbers states that 68 percent of its workforce is male, with 84 percent in tech roles. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg — who Martinez paints as frustrated by the company’s male-dominated environment — has made efforts to change that with her “Lean In” campaign to support women in the workplace.

Unsurprisingly, there can be no mention of Facebook without a nod to its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Martinez doesn’t do his former boss any favors, portraying him as an ill-tempered autocrat. He recounts the time Zuckerberg made an example of an employee that had leaked a feature to the press. The CEO allegedly sent out an email to the entire office with the subject line “please resign,” explaining that the person had betrayed the firm.

In one specific anecdote regarding Zuckerberg, Martinez writes how the billionaire entrepreneur flew off the handle at employees after disagreeing with their take on creative expression on the company’s message wall.

The passage reads: “That weekend Zuck sent another to-all email (or maybe it was posted in the general Facebook internal group to which everyone belonged), the gist being: I trusted you to create art, and what you f*****s did was vandalize the place.”

Martinez’s biography asserts that the author had stints on Wall Street before becoming the CEO of his own ad-targeting startup. He joined Facebook to assist the company in targeting its own users, before being “forced out” two years later after an internal disagreement over the social network’s monetization strategy. The “data-guru” then landed himself a consulting position at Twitter.

Martinez’s debut book, Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, is available now. Facebook has not commented on the allegations.

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