This week’s TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 in San Francisco brought us another example of boorish behavior by techies who still haven’t gotten the memo that we’re in 2013 and the workplace is diverse. What’s the deal? Why do technology workers feel they can get away with doing and saying things that are widely recognized as offensive, inappropriate and unacceptable behavior?
To put it in perspective, a 9-year old girl had to present alongside “Titstare” (no, brogrammers, sorry, that isn’t a link to the app), an app that promotes exactly what it sounds like. Worse, the mother of the 9-year-old tweeted that the crowd was very positive in its response to the offensive app. How sweet.
How did Mom explain that one to her daughter?
Non techies wouldn’t believe it
As a woman in technology, I find it hard to even talk about these things with people outside of the industry (like my family and non-tech friends) who I’m not sure would even believe it happens. It sounds that outlandish.
The Wall Street Journal gave this excuse, but it doesn’t resonate with me:
Critics of the tech industry say a culture of coddling young engineers breeds bad behavior and that there are too few chances to instill professional behavior among workers.
So why do they do it? There are other industries that are predominantly male but don’t do this so openly. I’d love to hear from the men who do it and those who standby when it happens. How do you feel? What motivates you to do this? Why do you stay silent?
And then there was Circle Shake (yes, he is doing what you think he’s doing and yes, people are laughing). Keep in mind the 9-year-old is in the audience.
Thank you, TechCrunch
In their defense, at least TechCrunch had the wisdom to write the following apology a short time after it happened:
Normally our hackathons are a showcase for developers of all stripes to create and share something cool. But earlier today, the spirit of our event was marred by two misogynistic presentations.
Sexism is a major problem in the tech industry, and we’ve worked hard to counteract it in our coverage and in our own hiring.
Today’s issues resulted from a failure to properly screen our hackathons for inappropriate content ahead of time and establish clear guidelines for these submissions.
Trust us, that changed as soon as we saw what happened at our show. Every presentation is getting a thorough screening from this hackathon onward. Any type of sexism or other discriminatory and/or derogatory speech will not be allowed.
You expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves. We are sorry.
To Alexis and and Eric: Thank you for at least acknowledging it for what it was. The next step is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.