This story contains mention of and details regarding sexual assault.
Ashley Kosak, a former engineer at SpaceX's facility in Florida, published an essay today claiming that SpaceX ignored multiple alleged incidences of sexual harassment and that Elon Musk fosters a culture of misogyny and abuse at the company.
The former mission integration engineer, now an engineer at Apple, wrote in the essay that she was harassed repeatedly by her male coworkers, including coworkers who groped her, came to her house and messaged her on her Instagram account to ask her out. Kosak said that she reported each incident to human resources and was told that a company training would be held, rather than anyone having conversations with the accused perpetrators.
Musk "bears a remarkable similarity to the behavior of a sadistic and abusive man," Kosak wrote, claiming that his constant shifting of goalposts, failure to hold himself accountable and threatening messages created a misogynistic, distrustful culture. "Elon uses engineers as a resource to be mined rather than a team to be led," she said.
Her allegations of misogyny, distrust and cultural chaos at SpaceX parallel some of those made about SpaceX competitor Blue Origin's culture by many former employees, as well as widespread allegations about sexism and racism at Musk's Tesla. Workers at all three of these companies, as well as other private space engineering ventures, have spoken to Protocol about an industry-wide failing to address sexism and racism in the workplace, exacerbated by CEO leadership focused entirely on getting products built as quickly as possible.
After Kosak became increasingly frustrated with the process of filing complaints with human resources and being ignored, she submitted a complaint to a supposedly anonymous ethics and compliance tipline that failed to protect her identity. She then met with Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell and Head of Human Resources Brian Bjelde, who claimed they had never heard of her harassment allegations and asked her to submit solutions to them directly, according to the essay.
Kosak resigned from the company in 2021, after her psychiatrist recommended she take medical leave.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
If you or a loved one needs help:
Call RAINN's sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673, 24 hours a day.