Susan Fowler is a central figure in the #MeToo movement. Named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2017 as one of the silence breakers, Fowler is the former Uber engineer whose viral blog post ignited an ongoing, worldwide conversation. The Financial Times named her Person of the Year as well. Her actions, the paper writes, hold “the potential to improve the way women are treated at work permanently.” That’s Fowler’s public narrative, so far. But her personal story—a homeschooled science nerd, a successful woman in STEM against incredible odds—is equally fascinating. In uplifting talks, she tackles a variety of topics, including how regular people can affect positive change on a global and personal scale.
“Words can change the world.” This was Fowler’s famous five-word speech, delivered at the 2018 Webby Awards, where she was named Person of the Year for “opening the door wider to the better treatment and fairer employment of women within tech and the world at large.” At the age of 26, the engineer, physicist, and writer Susan Fowler wrote a meticulous blog post detailing the harassment—and the systemic denial of it—that she faced at Uber, where she worked as an engineer. Fowler’s powerful words led to a sea change in attitudes toward workplace conduct in Silicon Valley and corporate America. It soon spread into Hollywood, politics, professional sports, academia, and beyond. It empowered countless women and men to speak up and share their stories, as well as providing the much-needed spark for companies to re-evaluate their policies, practices, and priorities. Now, Fowler tells Time, instead of denying there’s a problem, companies are embracing the solutions to it, “trying to build something that's good for consumers and treats employees fairly.” Fowler has written about workplace diversity, creativity, and HR issues, including for The New York Times, and, in her talks, she lays out practical, highly-actionable solutions to these hotly-discussed topics.
“Susan Fowler helped expose a problem that will no longer be silenced, giving us all a chance to ask ourselves ‘How am I a part of this? And how do I fix it?’ and to not stop asking until we have solutions.”— Webby Awards, Person of the Year 2018
Susan J. Fowler is a member of Vanity Fair’s New Establishment List, Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and the Bloomberg 50. She is writing a memoir, and a movie about her life is forthcoming. Fowler grew up in rural poverty, one of seven children in an Arizona town of 600 people. She received virtually no formal schooling. “I used to think that my unconventional upbringing was a weakness,” she says. “But over the past few years I’ve learned to see it as one of my greatest strengths. I had to fight for everything I wanted, like my education.” With unbelievable grit, Fowler gained admission into Arizona State University, at the age of 18, partly by providing a list of books she had read at her local library. She then earned degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. In her career-so-far-in-STEM, Fowler has designed electronics that were used at CERN; worked on the search for the Higgs boson; worked at three start-ups; served as editor-in-chief at Increment (“The New Yorker of Silicon Valley”); and published her first book, on software architecture, at the age of 25. In her talks focused on diversity in STEM, and women in STEM, Fowler uses her inspiring career path as a backdrop to discuss why inclusion matters, and how to make it happen.