They were apparently asked about their sexual histories and porn preferences, among other things.

Serious Allegations

Women seeking jobs at billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates' private office, Gates Ventures, were asked incredibly inappropriate and invasive questions about sensitive topics including sexual behavior and drug histories, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Per the report, some women who interviewed for the roles at Gates Ventures were grilled about pornography preferences, whether they'd ever had extramarital affairs, or if they had "nude photographs of themselves on their phones." One woman reportedly told the WSJ that she'd been asked if she'd ever "danced for money," while another woman said she was asked if she'd ever had an STI.

Meanwhile, according to the WSJ, none of the men who interviewed for similar Gates Ventures positions recounted being asked such invasive questions.

According to the report, it's believed that the security firm tasked with interviewing candidates, called Concentric, was attempting to seek information about candidates' backgrounds that might make them vulnerable to external blackmail while working for one of the world's richest and most powerful men. But it's also the latest in what's now a years-long string of concerning reports about the treatment of women within Gates-led companies and even by Gates himself — and as a result, yet another blow to Gates' formerly squeaky-clean reputation.

Ctrl Alt Denial

For its part, Gates Ventures is holding the denial line.

"We have never received information from any vendor or interviewee in our 15+ year history that inappropriate questions were asked during the screening process," a spokesperson for the firm said in a statement to the WSJ. "We can confirm, that after a comprehensive review of our records, no employment offer has ever been rescinded based on information of this nature."

A Concentric spokesperson, on the other hand, did concede to the WSJ that part of their screening process involves "assessing a candidate's truthfulness and vulnerability to blackmail, which often starts with voluntary statements by the candidate with follow-up questions by company interviewers." They maintained, however, that the contents of those interviews had no bearing on future employment.

The former Gates Ventures interviewees who spoke to the WSJ, though, refuted Concentrics' defense, saying that they were asked about deeply intimate topics without volunteering such information, and told that their answers had a direct bearing on their potential hiring.

A Concentric consent form reviewed by the WSJ also overtly noted that the security firm had permission to share "highly sensitive information" with their client.

The allegations are serious — and frankly, the blackmail defense falls flat at the apparent disparity of treatment between male and female candidates. We would expect better.

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