Adria Richards Tweets About Sexism At Tech Conference, Becomes Internet’s Most Hated Person


Author: Colette McIntyre

Warning: the journey we’re about to embark on is long and fraught with misogyny. Pack light, stay positive, and beware: here be men who believe “misandry” is a thing.

I’m sure when Adria Richards attended this year’s PyCon, a conference for people to discuss the Python programming language, she didn’t have any explicit plans to get a developer fired, become an Internet pariah, or be publicly fired from her own job, but that’s exactly what happened.

While sitting in her umpteenth seminar of the day, Richards, a developer evangelist for email delivery company SendGrid, overheard two men sitting behind her laughing about “big dongles.” According to Richards’ account of the events, the men continued their fifth grade laughfest, giggling over sexually suggestive comments about “forking.” At the same exact moment, the seminar’s speaker was addressing gender inequality and misogyny in the tech community. How apropos.

Tired of feeling maligned, mistreated, and unsafe in what is allegedly supposed to be her “community”, Richards took a picture of the jokesters and posted it to Twitter:

She then asked for help in addressing the issue:

Richards next reached out to PyCon staff and posted a link to the event’s code of conduct. Shortly after Richards’ tweets, the men were led out of the ballroom by administrators. While both attendees were allowed to remain at the conference, one of the men lost his job at mobile-gaming company PlayHaven after his boss discovered Richards’ tweet. Richards expressed her sympathy and regret that the programmer was now unemployed, saying that revenge or retribution was not her intention. And here’s where the story should’ve ended. But oh no, end it did not. Here go hell come.

To finish reading this post, head on over to The Jane Dough.
To finish reading this post, head on over to The Jane Dough.

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    • Lastango

      Here’s another view: that Adria Richards pulled a self-aggrandizing, ideologically-motivated, cosseted-university-feminist-style stunt, tried to wreck somebody else because she thought she had the high ground and could get away with it, and was hoist on her own petard:

      • Terrence Koeman

        Don’t forget that the sexual tone to the ‘forking’ joke was Adria’s interpretation. It’s a technical term and she should have known that. The writer of this article should have know this as well, but still chose to ignore that fact. Hmm.

        Also, see this link for background of her MO (she has a history of overreacting and immediately rallying her troops before addressing the issue herself):

      • Lastango

        I think one of the problems is that the payoff for the sort of grandstanding Adria Richards likes to do can be huge. With each brave new act of speaking truth to power, she’s building cred in progressivist circles. If she keeps at it, somewhere out there in her future is a $350,000/year tenured professorship, a book deal, and a senate campaign. Then she won’t have to care about that stepping-stone job she just got fired from. I imagine there are people out there right now trying to help her captialize on her newfound fame by finding her a bigger, more lucrative stage to perform on.

      • Terrence Koeman

        For men and women alike, I hope not :(

    • Lee Tran

      Putting the photo on twitter and then later on her blog with a lengthy rant *IS* retribution, irrespective of Richards’ denial. Also note that Richards admits on her blog taking three photos, not just one. By doing so, and by putting the unauthorised photos on her blog as well as twitter, Richards breached the Pycon code of conduct which specifically forbids using photography in an harassing manner. Richards also made the innocent bystanders in the photo collateral damage. Not cool, Adria.

    • GreenMarine

      Silly men, penis jokes are only ok when “feminists” make them…
      Adria Richards tweet on 13 Mar:

      @skwashd you should put something in your pants next time…like a bunch of socks inside one…large…sock. TSA agent faint

    • Savior Money

      Adria Richards is a hypocrite. Here is what she was posting to twitter while she was at pycon:

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