Recently, there was a bit of a blowup at a conference for Python programmers called PyCon.
You probably haven’t heard about it yet, but here’s what happened.
Adria Richards, Developer Evangelist, coder, and black woman employed at SendGrid, was sitting at PyCon, and had had enough of people making jokes about sex. The two men sitting behind her were talking about “forking” their “dongles” in a highly sexualized way.
So she asked the moderators of the conference to do something about it. They got in touch with the employers of the dongle men, who were also sponsors of the conference, to ask them to gently reprimand them. Well, the men got fired instead.
Then it seemed like a lot of highly vocal men on the internet were determined to call Adria Richards the reason that these men got fired,(the twitter stream is still going strong below)
In actuality, it was an HR person making a decision at their company who decided these men should be fired. Why aren’t these trolls attacking their company instead? Because it’s easier to attack a single woman rather than a faceless corporation.
So now Twitter and all of these tech blogs are full of hate speech towards Adria Richards, up to and including calling her the N-word, as well as threatening to rape and kill her in various graphic ways. Also, the servers at her company, SendGrid, are under a DDOS attack, which is also known as a Denial of Service attack. Anonymous is claiming responsibility, but who knows?
So then SendGrid decides to do something even stupider. They decide to fire her. Because a lot of trolls on the internet are upset.
In case anyone was wondering, is this sexism?
Yes. It is.
Mixed with racism? Yep.
I know first learning about sexism can be confusing. And to think that a tech or open source community can be sexist is a bit alarming.
Tech space is our space.
Nonprofit tech space is our space.
On the eve of the next Nonprofit Technology conference, I think we need to ask ourselves, how can I support more women in tech?
How can I support women learning to code? How can I support women learning user interface design?
Why should we?
Look at the serious, economic facts of millions of women. These links point to wage discrimination, employment discrimination based on race and gender.
You also need to factor in: the student debt crisis, Stagnating wages, Economic assistance flowing to top 1%, and the fact that the bulk of new jobs are concentrated in low wage sectors.
Can you wonder why more women want to start coding? It’s a path to a better life. And tech companies are encouraging us. Encouraging women means making a safe workplace for us to be in. Which includes tech conferences. Which means that tech needs to be a place where people can ask politely for better treatment, and expect those wishes to be honored. It seems like a simple concept.
One of the last places you can get paid a decent wage is in tech. So women are trying to break in more. The men who have thought of it as a boys club for so long are reacting against this.
We have a place in technology. We have a place in nonprofit technology. If you’d like to get involved in nonprofit technology, or learn more about how to support women in technology, check out: