Toptal, a small developer networking platform, is accusing LinkedIn of perpetuating “extreme sexism within the tech community.”
Why? The tech giant started rejecting Toptal’s ads for female engineers because “many LinkedIn members complained about the women images [it was] using.”
Toptal was told that if it planned to continue advertising on the site, it would have to kick the image of dark-haired, Argentinian web developer Florencia Antara to the curb in place of what LinkedIn described in an email as, “different images, related to the product.”
In a blog post titled “In Defence of Female Engineers,” CEO Taso Du Val made his disgust clear:
The fact of the matter is: members of the tech community (LinkedIn users) saw it as impossible that our female engineers could actually be engineers, and a leader of the tech community (LinkedIn) agreed with them. Unfortunately we’re banned from showing anything except 100%, all male software advertisements from now on and so, that’s what you’ll be getting. I’m disappointed both on a personal and professional level. I expect better.
Du Val writes that he then tried to re-enable the disabled ads, which led to Toptal’s account getting banned from LinkedIn. It would only be reactivated if the ads, featuring the women, were changed.
After Toptal went public with claims of sexism, LinkedIn reinstated the ads.
So what happened here?
A LinkedIn spokesperson admitted fault in the incident explaining to BI, “While our Customer Service was going through a standard process of reviewing LinkedIn Ads, TopTal’s ads were rejected in error. We have since taken the necessary measures to approve the previously rejected ads, and TopTal can now run them on our platform as intended.”
The Daily Dot notes that the situation was complicated by the fact that in addition to using images of real female developers with Toptal contracts, the small company also employed stock photos and images of actresses.
“Who cares?” Du Val asks.”The point is, they’re perfectly fine and represent normal professional people. Our male versions are no different.”
And the male photos were acceptable.
This opens up to a larger issue of sexism and gender perceptions in the tech industry.
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