David Bonderman no longer talking for Uber

« previous post | next post »

J.P. Mangalindan, "LEAKED AUDIO: Uber's all-hands meeting had some uncomfortable moments", 6/13/2017:

Uber held an all-hands meeting on Tuesday, during which the board announced that CEO Travis Kalanick would take a leave of absence. Furthermore, management shared recommendations from the law firm Covington & Burling on how the embattled ride-hailing startup can fix its culture after complaints of sexual harassment. […]

While speaking, Huffington pointed out that Uber was adding a woman to its board, Wan Ling Martello.

“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” she said around six minutes into the recording.

“Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking,” Uber board member David Bonderman said.

“Oh. Come on, David,” Huffington responded.

Here's the critical exchange:

And David Bonderman's remark alone:

As a result, "David Bonderman Resigns From Uber Board After Sexist Remark", NYT 6/13/2017.

I haven't seen any "Actually studies show…" reactions in the news or on Twitter so far, which is a step forward if it holds up. In fact, from the cited NYT article:

Mr. Bonderman’s original comments, according to experts, also lack merit.

Tali Mendelberg, professor of politics at Princeton University, and Christopher Karpowitz, an associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University, conducted a study in 2012 concluding that men talked far more than women did at meetings. The professors convened 94 groups of five people and varied the number of men and women in the groups. Their study is in line with multiple others drawing similar conclusions — men talk more than women, and men interrupt more than women.

But just in case:

"An invented statistic returns", 2/22/2013

And also:

Sex-linked lexical budgets“, 8/6/2006
Yet another sex-n-wordcount sighting“, 8/14/2006
Gabby guys: The effect size“, 9/23/2006
Regression to the mean in British journalism“, 11/28/2006
Contagious misinformation“, 12/1/2006
Femail again“, 12/2/2006
Sex differences in ‘communication events’ per day“, 12/11/2006

A bit more context from the Uber event recording:



  1. Yerushalmi said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 8:44 am

    What I *really* want to know is what Bonderman thinks is supposed to happen at meetings if not talking! Does he regularly go to a lot of meetings where people stare at each other blankly?

    He was just so desperate to make a sexist remark that it didn't matter to him whether it was internally consistent.

    [(myl) Or syntactically coherent: "…it’s much likely to be more talking"?]

  2. Andrew said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 9:16 am

    To me his remark sounds like '“Actually what it shows is _there’s_ much likely to be more talking', rather than '… it's …' as in the quoted article.

  3. D.O. said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 11:31 am

    As someone who sometimes goes to meetings, I can attest that usually there is at least twice as much talking going on in there then there should be. And gender plays no role in this extra talking.

  4. bratschegirl said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

    The most facepalm-worthy aspect of this is that Bonderman was apparently there to work on reforming Uber's "culture." Fox, meet henhouse…

  5. Greg said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 2:56 pm

    I agree with Andrew. It's interesting how when reading the (mis)quote, it certainly come across as ungrammatical, but then when I listened to it, it immediately sounded fine — even if he mumbled "there's," and I expected it to sound ungrammatical. It makes me wonder if the transcription was performed by a non-native speaker, or just someone in a rush, or maybe it was an error involving the repetition of "much (more) likely" with expected parallel structure to what Huffington had previously said: "It's much more likely…"

    It's also interesting to me that when reading the quote, I initially made no connection whatsoever to the sexist notion that "women talk more than men." I was reading it as if it were not meant to be a joke and I didn't understand the connection between these things. It only dawned on me that it was meant to be a joke when I listened to it, but that may have been even after Huffington made her response. Poor Huffington, having to deal with that. Glad Bonderman faced consequences. What a douche.

  6. Jim said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 3:12 pm

    @ D.O.: Meetings–15 minutes of useful information compressed into 2 or 3 hours….

    And by far, men do most of the talking.

  7. Yerushalmi said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 3:50 pm

    @myl: I did get a good laugh out of the incoherence of the sentence, but I didn't comment on it because I took it to be an example of the fluent disfluency that was discussed here not too long ago.

  8. Andrew Usher said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 8:03 pm

    It seems pretty clear Bonderman was trying to make a joke, and certainly not any kind of serious argument. I can't tell whether he really said "it's" or "there's", but the latter must have been meant and no one was confused anyway.

    Women or no women can hardly make any productive difference in the context of corporate boards anyway; to the extent that they have any actual power, they're just another way for the plutocrats to eert their hidden control over everything, and including women just means twice as many potential plutocrats.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  9. Anne Cutler said,

    June 14, 2017 @ 9:11 pm

    Back in prehistory, Donia Scott and I controlled the spoken text and had
    listeners judge whether male or female contributions were greater. Result: There is listener bias too (not, at that time, differing between male and female listeners; but it might be worth looking at that again now more than a quarter century of potential enlightenment has passed).

    Cutler, A., & Scott, D. (1990). Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11(3), 253-272. doi:10.1017/S0142716400008882

  10. Gwen Katz said,

    June 15, 2017 @ 2:14 pm

    It seems pretty clear Bonderman was trying to make a joke, and certainly not any kind of serious argument.

    Right, but humor serves to reinforce our perceptions of reality.

  11. Arthur Baker said,

    June 17, 2017 @ 12:34 am

    Interesting to see how the verb "hail" (as in "ride-hailing") now includes summoning a Uber car remotely on your phone or on the internet. Hailing used to be what you did on the street when you saw a vacant taxi. Now you can apparently "hail" digitally.

  12. Rodger C said,

    June 17, 2017 @ 11:13 am

    Now you can apparently “hail” digitally.

    After dialing.

  13. Nicki said,

    June 20, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

    After dialing? I'm not quite sure if you are joking or if I'm missing something. Just open the app, hail taxi, no phone dialing required, right? Of course, I've never actually used uber, just dididache.

RSS feed for comments on this post