Fed-Up Women In Tech Share Sexist Horror Stories (And A Plan To End This Nonsense)

Sabrina MajeedTwitter/@sabrinaSabrina Majeed, iOS design at BuzzFeed

A group of nine women in tech are so fed up with the constant sexism thrown at them, they are speaking out in what some are calling the tech industry’s “Feminist Manifesto.”

In a post on a new website called About Feminism, they are calling on the men in their industry to knock it off and let them get back to work creating tech products.

The behaviour they want stopped is stuff like this, they say:

Our experiences? They’re just like the stories you hear about.

But maybe you thought because we weren’t as loud, that this stuff doesn’t happen to us.

We’ve been harassed on mailing lists and called “wh***/c***’ without any action being taken against aggressors.

We get asked about our relationships at interviews, and we each have tales of being groped at public events. We’ve been put in the uncomfortable situation of having men attempt to turn business meetings into dates. …

We’re constantly asked ‘if you write any code” when speaking about technical topics and giving technical presentations, despite just having given a talk on writing code. …

We get asked if we’re the event planner or executive assistant on a regular basis. …

We regularly receive creepy, rapey emails where men describe what a perfect wife we would be and exactly how we should expect to be subjugated. Sometimes there are angry emails that threaten us to leave the industry, because ‘it doesn’t need anymore c**ts ruining it’.

…We’ve been told repeatedly that accomplishments were due to our gender and our role as the “token woman”.

… We are tired of pretending this stuff doesn’t happen and continue to keep having these experiences again and again. We keep our heads down working at our jobs hoping that if we just work hard at what we do, maybe somehow the problem will go away.

But it’s not just the guys doing wrong that need to step it up, they say. They also want want the nice guys to take action.

“We are tired of our male peers pretending that because they do not participate in bad behaviour, that it is not their problem to solve. If you see someone engage in bad behaviour and you do nothing, you’ve chosen to let that person think that what they did is ok. This leaves us feeling like we’re fighting this alone. We can’t work on what we can’t see, but if you’re there when it happens, you can help. It is absolutely imperative that men work with other men to combat bad attitudes and behaviour.”

Each of these women has founded or are involved with projects to bring more women and minorities into tech including lightning talks, Passions Projects, TheLi.st and Change the Ratio Hackbright, Girls Who Code, Girl Develop It, Black Girls Code, among others.

In addition to speaking out when people see sexism, they want more people in the tech industry to join in such efforts.

The women who created this manifesto certainly have the experience to talk about it and call for change.

They are Divya Manian, product manager for Adobe; Jessica Dillon, a software engineer for San Francisco startup Bugsnag; Sabrina Majeed, iOS design at BuzzFeed; Joanne McNeil, freelance tech journalist; Sara Chipps, CTO of coding bootcamp Flatiron School (and founder of Girl Develop It); Kat Li, from Stripe (previously doing marketing at Quora), Ellen Chisa, a product manager at Kickstarter; Jennifer Brook, an independent user interface designer; and Angelina Fabro, on the Devtools team at Mozilla.

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