Former SpaceX Engineer Details Sexual Harassment at Company “Rife With Sexism”

Ashley Kosak's account comes one day after CEO Elon Musk was named Time's "Person of the Year"

Elon Musk at a press conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California in 2019.
Elon Musk at a press conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California in 2019.

Among the many odd details in Time’s “Person of the Year” feature about Elon Musk, there is the SpaceX CEO’s description of his aerospace company’s Starbase location in Boca Chica, Texas. “This place is basically like a technology monastery, you know,” Musk told the magazine. “There are some women here, but not many. And it’s remote.”

“Some women here, but not many” appears to be an apt tagline for SpaceX as a whole, but one that reportedly only scratches the surface of the company’s issues. According to former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak, not only is misogyny “rampant” at the company, but repeated instances of sexism and sexual harassment led to her recent resignation from her job as mission integration engineer, a position she worked up to over years after first starting as an intern in 2017. 

In an essay published on Lioness on Tuesday, Kosak calls SpaceX a “company so rife with sexism, the only remedy is for women to leave.” She told Vice’s Motherboard that a previous essay from current and former employees of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s aerospace company, outlining a toxic culture, including sexism, inspired her to speak out. (Lioness also published that essay.)

In Kosak’s account, she writes of attempting to weigh the benefits of working in a field she loves at a company she believes in against her experiencing atrocious behavior at the hands of male colleagues and subsequent inaction from the company. (SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment from Lioness or Motherboard, which is par for the course for Elon Musk’s companies.)

“I reported each incident of sexual harassment I experienced to HR, and nothing was done,” Kosak writes. “I was told that matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators … Each and every man who harassed me was tolerated despite the company’s so-called no-tolerance and no-asshole policy.” 

Of Musk, Kosak says his “behavior bears a remarkable similarity to the behavior of a sadistic and abusive man who had previously been part of [her] life.” But in speaking to Motherboard, she added that she’s not sure if he’s “aware of how severe this issue is within his factory.”

Since the status quo is not to comment, we’ll keep an eye out on Musk’s tweets.

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