There has been lots of conversation and internet fodder on the firing of Adria Richards after calling out two men on twitter (with a picture) in regards to their inappropriate sexual comments that took during the PyCon conference. Not only was Adria fired post the public grievance but so was one of the men she tweeted about.
So here is the question of the week:
I would love to know your opinion on
SendGrid's firing of Adria Fisher. Do you think that her tweet
crossed any lines? Do you agree with SendGrid's decision to terminate
her role? I would love to hear your perspective on this situation.
I was sitting at my desk when I saw all the information about what was going on started to fly around the Internet. So many things started running through my head and now that some time has passed I will answer the question.
The technology industry is dominated by many things and one of them is youth. There is probably more men working in the industry than women but that is slowly changing particularly in NYC. I still go back to the question what denotes a tech industry company. Is it a company that is building an product on a tech platform such as Food52, Lover.ly, Little Borrowed Dress, Nestio or even a consumer tech product such as littleBits? BTW, all women entrepreneurs behind these companies.
Regardless, at the conference only 20% of the attendees were women. That could be because the conference is for the community developing python programming langague, in essence coders. I do believe that more and more women will begin to move into that space but for now it is loaded with men.
What happens when a group of young men get together who are young and not that professional, they stay stupid shit. I honestly do not believe that there was any thought process from the two men who said the dumb sexual innuendos. They probably didn't even think that it would perhaps be insensitive to the women around them or make them uncomfortable. They should and the question is how can they learn what is ok and what is not.
Social media is a powerful tool and I do not believe that calling out a collegue on twitter is appropriate. One of the first things you teach your children about the internet is once you put it out there it is always out there for the world to see. Think before you tweet.
I hear a lot about women entrepreneurs getting push back from male investors. Comments that they would never make to a man. Questions that they would never ask a man. I could go on and on. I bring this up because it is relevant to this issue. It might take a lot of courage from inside for many women to do this but Adria would have gotten a lot more points and probably felt a helluva lot better about herself if she turned around in her seat, looked both of these guys in the face and said, "are you fucking kidding me? What are you twelve? We are at a conference and I honestly do not appreciate listening to your unprofessional banter making derogatory comments about women. Would you want me to do the same about men? Get it together guys."
When women go out to raise money and they call me afterward to tell me about some obnoxious comment made by one of the guys on the other side of the table, I tell him the same thing, take a step back and think what would a man say and would they even say this to a man. Say fuck you in a nice way and push them back on their heels. They are only saying it because they think they can. If you don't say something and walk away with your tail between your legs you get nowhere. As women we need to push back and say cut this shit out.
There is one man, who will go unnamed, that flirted with one of the women that I have invested in when she was showing me her new deck on her iPad at an event we were attending. He was saying how cute she was and beautiful. I could see she was totally uncomfortable. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if I could talk to him a moment. We walked over to the bar and I said to him "If I ever hear you talk to a woman entrepreneur like that again I will take you out on the floor". He was aghast. He said "you know I am only playing, I am married and have older kids". I said to him "what if it was your son pitching me and I kept pumping his shoulders and tell him how incredible cut and muscular he was, would that be appropriate?" He took a moment and said "you are right, I am so sorry, you learn something new every day. I had no idea.". You know what, he left me a gift at my apartment the next day and ended up investing quite a nice sum in to that womans business. That was a meaningful conversation for all of us. Taking a photo and tweeting it out would have done nothing but create more gender issues that nobody learns any lessons from.