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Initially founded as a secret feminist group within Speckulate, the women strived to change the sexist and misogynistic culture within the company. They helped one another find ways to cope with sexism and later campaigned together. After staging a walkout in protest of Speckulate refusing to shut down an app overrun by racists, the women founded a tech start-up.
The group was founded in "Imposter" by tech-engineer and coder, Mariana Adams Foster, after her ideas were consistently stolen by her male team leader. She was inspired by her friendship with Casey Pierce, the only female team leader at the company, to start the group. Mariana sent out an email blast to all the women in the company telling them that the club was happening off-the-books at her apartment building.
They had their first official meeting in "Byte Club" at The Coterie. This is also where Mariana coined the name "byte club", which the other group members didn't agree with, but has since become the commonly used name. The women of Speckulate eventually opened up to each other over a bottle of wine. They aired their grievances, unfair treatment, and experiences with the sexist culture at Speckulate. They shared advice on how to navigate the culture and how to make sure that their ideas are listened too and properly acknowledged by the people in charge. Mariana successfully used the clubs advice at a work meeting where she finally received the recognition that she deserved.
Mariana gathered the club at work in the staircase the next day to suggest that they didn't need to navigate the culture at Speckulate - they needed to change it. For the first step, she recommended closing the pay gap between male and female employees. The plan would be to walk into their upcoming end of year performance reviews and demand a raise that would result in equal pay between the genders. In order to do this, they had to overcome roadblocks such as non-disclosure agreements and unwilling male participants.
Mariana eventually suggested an anonymous spreadsheet complete with the salaries of various employees. The group began to gather male employees who were willing to share their salaries, including Mariana's fellow team member, Raj Patil. Raj went a step further and informed the head of HR about his team leaders discriminatory behavior toward Mariana.
In "Less Than", Mariana and Raj faced another issue with their spreadsheet. Raj was the only male employee willing to share his salary, which made it almost impossible to prove a gender pay gap. However, Mariana did discover a pay gap between the women based on race - both she and Claire were hired at the same time for the same job, but received significantly different salaries. When she raised this concern to the group they shot her down, saying that they should only focus on one issue at a time if they want to be heard. Casey, the only other woman of color in the group, agreed with the majority.
Later, Mariana reconvened the group to plead her case once again. She stated that in ten years, she would have earned a significantly less amount than her white female co-workers, and would fall behind even from them. After pleading her case, the women of the Byte Club agreed to add a race column to their spreadsheet. Casey reminded Mariana that if they added a race section their anonymity would disappear, as they are the only female women of color at the company. Mariana confided in Raj later that night, who bravely agreed to add his race to the spreadsheet despite being the only Indian employee at Speckulate.
The byte club also had a list of allies Speckulate that weren't official members but had agreed to help them with their projects.
- Ending the Gender Pay Gap - Mariana learned that she and Raj were making vastly different salaries despite having the same qualifications, and enlisted the help of the Byte Club in ending the pay gap so they had a fair monetary gain. They decided to make a spreadsheet that would honor anonymity, though they struggled to find a significant number of male employees that were willing to divulge their salaries. Raj Patil served as the only willing male participant, and the project hit a road block until Mariana hacked into Speckulate to gain access to everyone's salaries. She then leaked the spreadsheet online which created a domino effect that resulted in the firing of Josh Mandela and Angela Miller. CEO Evan Speck ensured that all employees, regardless of gender or race, were making the same amount for the same work.
- Ending the Gender-Race Pay Gap - While drawing up the spreadsheet to raise awareness for the gender-based pay gap, Mariana noticed gaps within the women's salaries based solely on race. She and Claire, a white woman, were hired at the same time for the same position with the same credentials, but were given significantly different salaries. The idea to include a race column in the spreadsheet was initially shut down as the other women didn't want to take on more than one issue at a time. When Mariana showed them the numbers and how, in the long run, she would make thousands of dollars less than them, they agreed to add a race column. Fellow member Casey Pierce warned that by doing this, they would essentially lose their anonymity. Mariana enlisted Raj's help once again and he agreed to add his race to the spreadsheet. They learned that white employees Alex Wood and Sam Higgins were making more money then Raj despite having the same job title and credentials. Mariana then leaked the spreadsheet online which created a domino effect that resulted in the firing of Josh Mandela and Angela Miller. CEO Evan Speck ensured that all employees, regardless of gender or race, were making the same amount of money for the same work.
- Spreading Equality -
- Act=ivism -
- Bulk Beauty - An app idea originally pitched by Rachel, Bulk Beauty would serve as an eco-friendly bath and beauty product delivery app. After some debate, the girls decided to throw all of their resources into perfecting a pitch for this app idea in the hopes of getting founding.
Notes and Trivia
- Mariana coined the name "byte club" as a pun of the 1999 cult classic film, Fight Club.