Since this broke a couple of days ago. I’ve been unable to take my eyes off the unfolding situation. For those who don’t know, Adria Richards was a Developer Evangelist. Yeh I have no idea what that is either. From what I can gather it meant she is a champion of women in tech. Not a bad thing on the face of it. But the problem with her and unfortunately the problem, in my eyes, of the feminist movement in general is that it advocates for one side over the other. Here at MCR we are a company in tech and we have 3 women and 3 men. As the gaffer of MCR I have never favoured any gender over another. We look to do the best work we can do and I don’t care if that comes from a man or woman. I hire solely on the quality of work and I’d like to think I treat my co-workers with the respect the deserve and importantly the respect the give.
Back to Adria. She applied a sexual referance to two internet/coding terminologies “forking” and “coding”. At worst I think it’s a slightly silly immature thing to say. At best it’s entirely work related. Adria’s reaction to photograph and publically ‘shame’ them was a huge overreaction to a fairly innocent private comment that she happened to overhear.
To get a bit of female perspective on the situation, I asked our ‘social media butterfly’ Nat (note: she doesn’t feel her feminine job title is sexist, she actually quite likes it!) to give her view. Here’s what she said:
I am inclined to slightly sympathise with Adria simply because I it must be quite hard to have to work in a male dominated environment on a daily basis. But on the other hand, we don’t live in the 1950s anymore. Women can give as good as they get, that’s how we gain respect in work and outside of work. I don’t think it matters what industry you work in, or is even confined to the parameters of work, in society there will always be that sexual divide between men and women, no amount of equality can take that away, it can only lessen it. But instead she got on her high horse and caused uproar which affected not only herself but so many people around her, and over what? A childish schoolboy humour, which she could have simply turned around and replied to, saying ‘Not that your “dongle” is big nor will it have done much “forking”.
Unfortunately, Adria didn’t choose to give it back, and instead the situation escalated into chaos. One of the developers, Alex Reid was fired. The hive mind of the internet took over. Anonymous threatened SendGrid and carried out a DDoS shutting them down for quite a while. Many blog posts were written, commented on and argued over until SendGrid responded and fired Adria. Partly in response to pressure from Anon, but more importantly, it was in relation to Adria’s actual position at the company. She is tasked with talking to developers and maintaining a solid PR for SendGrid. She failed massively on both those counts. She was not fired because of the backlash. She was fired because she was the person that had to keep SendGrid in the press for the right reasons and she’s allowed a personal, percieved slight to take her company offline for a whole day’s trade.
But going back to my thoughts on feminist attitudes towards men and how men need to be sensitive of women around them. Why can’t women respect how men are naturally? We are of a different mind set and asking me to be anything other is not allowing me to be true to myself. I wouldn’t ask a gay person to be anything other than a gay person. That is what they are and the world is better for that. Don’t ask me to not be me and I won’t ask you to not be you. Common sense, for once has prevailed and I hope Adria can open her eyes and realise that while she is entitled to feel offended people have the right to say, in the words of the great Stephen Fry, “Well, so fucking what!”
By Stephen Howson & Nat Wilson