Thursday, March 21, 2013

Woman fired for denouncing misbehavior at tech conference

| »

Adria Richards, a technology “evangelist” for email marketing firm SendGrid, was attending a developer conference when two men seated behind her began reportedly began making crude sexual jokes. Eventually having enough of this, Richards saw fit to snap their picture and call them out on Twitter:

After someone made a comment about forking a software repository, the two allegedly began making jokes about forking in a sexual manner and “big dongles.” After listening for some time, Richards got fed up, took a picture of the two, and posted it to Twitter:

The result: Playhaven “conducted a thorough investigation”, which led to one of the men being fired.

Cue the inevitable shitstorm:

A storm of opinion and controversy has erupted on Richards’ blog and Twitter accounts about whether her actions were appropriate or not, and much of it has turned misogynistic and nasty. Developers and others, both male and female, have expressed differing opinions, with some supporting Richards and others condemning her for being too harsh. One has even posted a 10-minute video on Tumblr attacking her. A Pastebin record of the incident from the developers’ perspective is currently a top-four link on Hacker News.

That’s right: Richards’s rebuke – which consisted entirely of “[n]ot cool” – was “too harsh”. Note that she never called for anyone to be fired (and she’s since protested the developer’s sacking), nor did she even demand any sort of punishment; she simply pointed a finger at two grown men acting like juveniles in public. No more, no less. So naturally, she’s the oversensitive harpy whining about perfectly natural behavior and yadda yadda yadda, how dare she castigate those poor, victimized dudes for their inappropriate behavior, and so on. (Sound familiar?)

Here’s an odd idea: For those who are unhappy with the developer losing his job (which does feel like an overreaction; an internal reprimand should have sufficed), how about blaming the company that actually fired him, rather than the woman who simply denounced a blatant lack of professionalism?

But no matter, as all the calls for Richards to be punished for protesting out of line (and for another company’s managerial decision) have been answered:

[SendGrid] made a statement on its Facebook account:

Effective immediately, SendGrid has terminated the employment of Adria Richards. While we generally are sensitive and confidential with respect to employee matters, the situation has taken on a public nature. We have taken action that we believe is in the overall best interests of SendGrid, its employees, and our customers.

Well, thank goodness for that. Can’t have men fearing the grim specter of facing consequences for their own public misbehavior, now can we?

Kudos to SendGrid for valiantly standing up for all that the famously anti-woman boys’ club that is the technological industry represents.