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.