Sexism In Silicon Valley

Google software engineer Julie Pagano describes the “death by 1000 paper cuts” that comes from being a woman in the tech industry:

The cuts started early. I’m discouraged and humiliated in math classes throughout my school years to the point where I still get anxious doing math in front of others despite being good at it in private.  A high school teacher tells me that I shouldn’t go to college for engineering, but instead something nurturing (you know, what women are good for). My college classes have next to no women in them. A professor makes creepy comments about “geeky girls” during class. One of my few female classmates tells me she’s just doing this to prove her father wrong. …

Every time I try to push to make things better, I am guaranteed a patronizing response from someone. If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested that some demographics just aren’t biologically predisposed to be good at programming (even though research does not support this argument), I’d be rich.

Meanwhile, at the PyCon developers conference last week, an industry-wide firestorm ensued after a tech professional named Adria Richards shamed two men sitting behind her for making inappropriate comments during a presentation, which resulted in both her and one of the men being fired. Sarah Milstein has details:

[D]uring a keynote session, Adria heard some guys behind her making jokes that involved sexual language. The PyCon code of conduct states clearly, “Sexual language…is not appropriate for any conference venue.” Adria was bothered by the jokes, and referring to the code, she tweeted to the conference organizers, asking for help. They pulled aside the guys, who [apologized], and returned to the conference. Subsequently, PlayHaven, the guys’ employer and a sponsor of the conference, fired one of them. Adria then received a stream of virulent attacks and threats online. Her employer, SendGrid, was later subject to DDoS attacks demanding that she be fired, and they did so.

Matt Buchanan cites the incident as an example of the “biggest problem in technology”.