Sometimes high-fiving meritocracy requires a conference room of one's own. And so it is at Dropbox, where interviews with potential female candidates take place in "The Breakup Room," which is located adjacent to the "Bromance Chamber."
Vivek Wadhwa resurfaced these charming details for the Washington Post when he examined why Dropbox's 143 person engineering team only had 9 women (as of last October)—hardly representative of an industry where the hiring pool is 18 percent female:
Two former female employees and one current employee of Dropbox shared their concerns with me. They asked not to be named because they had signed non-disparagement agreements and feared negative consequences for their careers if they spoke critically of Dropbox. One wrote in an e-mail, "When I interviewed for Dropbox, I was interviewed in a room called 'The Break-up Room,' by a male. It was right next to a room called the 'Bromance Chamber.' It felt weird I would be interviewed in such a strangely named conference room." She said that "every time the company holds an all hands 'goals' meeting, the only people who talk are men. There are no females in leadership. The highest ranking is a team lead on the User Ops team."
She spoke up because she believes that "having more females in leadership positions results in more females; when they all leave those positions, it signals poorly to the rest of us."
"If someone came in right now and announced that the zombie apocalypse had just started outside, what would you do in the next hour?"
"What is a superpower you would give to your best friend?"
"The Caltrain is derailed and is moving fast towards a building, a plane is crashing downtown, and a boat is sinking. If you were a superhero, in what order would you save the following scenarios and why?"
These kind of brainteasers have proven to be useless in assessing job candidates, serving "primarily to make the interviewer feel smart."
But I'm not convinced the questions are necessarily more gender-oriented towards men than, say, Dropbox's "music lounge lit by chandeliers and outfitted with a grand piano, guitars and drums for Friday-night jam sessions," an important perk in the eyes of CEO Drew Houston who "used to play '90s covers with alternative rock band Angry Flannel." Every man, woman, and child should have a contingency plan for the zombie apocalypse. Girls like to play music too.
That's the insidiousness of culture fit. Combine the lack of women in leadership positions, the fratty conference room names, and comic book litmus test and Dropbox isn't outright saying: no girls allowed. The message is more unconscious than that. We just want to hire people who "get" us, bro.
To contact the author of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Image via Getty]