Mar. 23rd, 2012

denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Readers of the Geek Feminism blog will have already seen that this week was a disheartening week to be a woman in tech, with not one but at least three instances of being reminded that to a nonzero number of people in the tech world, I am valued more for my bra size than for my brain size. This is not, sadly, unusual, but this time on the Sexism Merry-Go-Round, I was pleased to see the script play out a little differently in one of those cases.

Long story short, the company Sqoot advertised a hackathon in extremely sexist terms, and a number of the hackathon's sponsors acted swiftly and decisively to express their displeasure. When the issue was not resolved to their satisfaction, they then pulled their sponsorship, with statements denouncing Sqoot's actions. Examples include:

* Cloudmine, a company providing backend for mobile apps, pulled their sponsorship and posted About Sexism in Tech (which I felt was an excellent post, and could probably be used as a textbook example of how to write an apology post);

* Heroku, a cloud application platform, investigated and pulled their sponsorship;

* Apigee, a data platform for mobile apps, pulled their sponsorship;

* MongoHQ, a hosted platform for using MongoDB, began with discussion and moved to pulling their sponsorship

Local area user groups also made strong statements against Sqoot's actions, which were also great to hear.

It seems like every time this happens -- and shit like this keeps fucking happening -- the discussion gets derailed into an endless series of explanations about why shit like this really is a problem and why exhortations for women to lighten up are never an appropriate response. Today, I am pleased to see so many voices challenging "brogrammer" culture and speaking up to say that casual sexism and the marketing of women as a "perk" of a hackathon is Not Okay.

I'm also really, really encouraged at how many of those comments are coming from men. It's easy, sometimes, for me to forget that there are so many male allies out there who are just as frustrated by this crap as I am. Thank you to all the awesome men out there who have my back, and thank you to the companies who refused to even passively support this kind of behavior.
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