Noah Kagan and the Faceless Bitch slide

A month ago, I attended MicroConf2011, a great little conference for self-funded software startups.  I got a lot out of the conference and have already written positively about the experience.  One big change in my own behavior since coming home has been to work harder at connecting with customers and prospects and getting real, honest feedback from them.  It’s relatively hard to do this when selling through the quite anonymous app marketplaces but I’ve already had one eye-opening success at engaging with a user community and am laying the groundwork now for another.

It is in that spirit of getting and giving honest feedback that I’ve finally decided to write about the one really negative experience I had at MicroConf:  a talk given by Noah Kagan.  One of the oft-repeated themes at MicroConf was:  just try stuff, see how it works, don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself by trying something new, just listen to the marketplace and learn from your mistakes.

So, as one small marketplace datapoint in Noah Kagan’s budding career as a public speaker, I am hereby speaking up:  “Your talk didn’t just not work for me.  It wasn’t just glib, edgy, and rude.  It was deeply offensive.  You embarrassed yourself.  You need to rethink what you did, ditch parts of your presentation,  and try harder next time.”

Now, it would probably surprise Noah Kagan to find this out, but most of the people who read this won’t have a clue who he is.  What little I know about him is from the conference literature and snippets here and there on the web.  He’s currently ‘Chief Sumo’ at AppSumo,  which one online interviewer described as “a sort of Groupon for software, apps, and business/tech education courses”.  (From the AppSumo FAQs page:  “Companies give us these amazing deals for limited time to get people to try out their great services.”)  Kagan is also an alumnus of Mint, Facebook, and another startup of his own called Gambit.

Apparently, in the small but influential industry of high tech companies and service providers who cater to high tech startup companies (yes, I’m serious, there is such an industry), Noah Kagan is a bit of a rock star.  He was the last speaker on the first day of the conference and more than one preceding speaker — smart guys, good speakers — expressed excitement about the fact that Noah was at the conference and going to be addressing us.

I don’t think Noah Kagan was trying very hard to be offensive when he talked.  Frankly, the first thing that struck me about his presentation was that he wasn’t trying very hard at all.  His overall topic was how to be more effective — how to wring more accomplishment out of your day as a startup entrepreneur.  And one of his major take-aways was, get this:  type faster. Now that’s deep.

Noah’s presentation style wedded PowerpointNextGen visuals with a hardcore tech-blogger-speak style of delivery.  Have you seen a PPNG presentation yet?  PPNG uses Powerpoint as a high tech slide projector to splash strong visual images up behind the speaker, with few words and no bullet points.  When done well, the images reinforce the speaker’s words, make the whole presentation more memorable, and don’t put you to sleep in 30 seconds the way normal PPs so often do.  Tech-blogger-speak is fast-paced, usually a bit rude, occasionally quite funny, and, when done well can be very entertaining and effective.  It’s a style that was pioneered by Joel Spolsky, who can be rolling-in-the-aisles hilarious in a way that is biting without, usually, being downright cruel.

Sriracha Hot SaucePut the two techniques together in the wrong hands, though, and the result is a rambling rant in front of weird pictures.  And that about describes the first half of Noah’s talk.  He did add a unique element by lobbing plastic bottles of hot sauce across the room to ‘reward’ someone who asked or answered a question.

For example, as a way to bring emphasis to a point he was making about the mixture of pleasure and pain with which many of us approach our email inbox at the start of the day, Noah put up on the screen a picture of a young woman . . . writhing, I guess you’d say . . . on a floor, maybe? . . . in ecstasy — well, maybe. . . in pain, probably (a lot more pain than pleasure is what it looked like to me).  And he tried very hard to get a couple of the audience members to describe the picture in some detail or put a word to her state.  One of them stuttered out enough of a response to earn a bottle of hot sauce. Now, however weird and tasteless writhing-woman was, she was, at least, displayed on the screen in service to a point Noah was making in his speech.

But then came the faceless bitch: a headshot, not even particularly recognizable as female because the face and neck were covered by a huge opaque circle across which, in large letters, was enscribed BITCH.

A short time after the slide flashed on the screen, Kagan glanced over his shoulder, as if a bit surprised, since she clearly didn’t have anything to do with the point he was making, and said, “Oh, that’s just my previous girlfriend.”  Then he just left her up there — for a long time.  Long enough that finally I came to my senses, picked up my phone, and snapped a picture of the screen.  At which point Kagan noticed me and said, “Gee, that’s not my good side” and I responded that I was not taking a picture of him.  Which, for some reason, earned me a bottle of hot sauce.  Not lobbed, though.  Mine got handed carefully down from the stage and passed hand-to-hand.  By the time it reached me, to say I was angry is to understate the case.

Yeah, I know. <L’esprit_de_l’escalier>  What I should have done was stand up, walk the bottle of hot sauce back up to the stage, point out to Noah Kagan that he had not earned the right to give ME a token of recognition, and just kept on walking out of the room.  </L’esprit_de_l’escalier>

But I didn’t.  I stared at the hot sauce in my hand for way too long, getting way too mad.  And then, finally, I just lobbed it back up on the stage.  Or tried.  Turns out that successfully lobbing hot sauce from a seated position in a middle row of a large conference room is harder than you might guess.  Or, maybe you’d be smart enough to guess it’s hard; I wasn’t.  And while Noah’s bottles had sailed across the room and landed hard without breaking, mine burst on impact.  Onto people.  Who were incredibly gracious about it.  Meanwhile, Noah paused for half a beat, asked, “Are you MAD at me?” as if that was the oddest thought in the world, and then went back to his talk as if nothing had happened.

Now, seriously, back to the walking out.  I should have.  Because, frankly, if the word on that picture had been a racial slur, many of us there that day would have.  And “bitch”, used in that way, in that context, can only be interpreted as a gender slur and hugely offensive.  But I just sat there. We all just sat there as if nothing had happened (except the two guys in front who were scraping hot sauce off themselves and their electronics for the rest of the speech), and Noah kept talking and showing weird slides.

Such as the picture of his “current girlfriend,” when he was talking about how smart she was and what a great job she had done marketing herself for a job once.  I get that being identified as Noah Kagan’s “current girlfriend” is, from his perspective, a very high compliment, indeed.  However, given that she appears on his company’s website listed as one of the people who work there and he was talking to a room full of potential customers, I have to wonder if she wouldn’t have preferred being identified simply as “my friend and colleague.”

After that really disturbing sequence of slides, Noah settled down, stopped rambling so much, and made a few constructive/interesting suggestions:

  • value your time (automate everything, get your people to bring you solutions not just problems, and, yes, type faster)
  • think long term not short term (try to cultivate customers for life, approach every choice as if it was a long term decision)

Does that last point strike you as pretty ironic in relation to what Noah did in the first half of his speech?  Good. I’m not the only one then.  Frankly, I suspect that Noah has given 20-30 minute versions of his presentation many times before and that the weird stuff at the beginning was just filler he threw in at the last minute to make the speech last an hour.

I ran into Noah at the back of the room the next day. (MicroConf was GREAT for the amount of one-on-one access we had to the various speakers.)   And I asked him if he wanted to understand what had happened during his speech.  He replied simply, “No” and that was that.  (Hey, I’ve raised children.  I’ve done enough talking at small people who don’t want to listen to me to last anyone a lifetime.)

I’ve been going back and forth about the lessons of that day, for me, and find they fall into two completely different categories:

  • When and how should we speak up, in this “post-polite society” of ours — that’s the only term I can think of to use for the world I find myself living in, when someone’s behavior crosses the line from being edgy and confrontational to being just plain offensive and unacceptable?
  • What, if any, damage does Noah Kagan do to his own company when he crosses that line?  Should he (and his partners and employees) care when he goes out in public and makes a “kind of an ass” of himself. Given the level of rude that “just works” these days, does Noah’s particular level of rude in this particular presentation present issues for his business or not?  I’d argue it does but agree that, these days, that isn’t a given any more.

I hope to write more on each of the above topics.  But right now, it is time to hit the Publish button and get on with my day.

Update:  Note that, in addition to the comments below, there was a rather vigorous debate about this post over on Hacker News.  Scan the comments below, though, before you click the link to HN.  If the language or tone of anything posted here offends you, please don’t bother with the HN threads.  There’s a lot of good stuff there but also much flaming not for the faint of heart.

88 thoughts on “Noah Kagan and the Faceless Bitch slide

  1. kz

    Replace the word in the slide with the slur of your choice. Replace “woman” and “women” in these comments with the people insulted by said slur. See the problem?

  2. Anonymous

    I want to thank the author for her posting. I found it very interesting.

    I was a mechanical engineer in the 70’s and 80’s along side my wife, who was also an engineer. (We met in an engineering physics class in college.) (Respecting her privacy is the reason I’m posting anonymously.) Let me say that, in my experience, sexism has been around for a long time. It will probably be around a good while longer.

    However, back then, even male engineers who were entirely prejudicial about her work were, to my recollection, always polite. It was the craftsmen (welders, mechanics, etc.) down in the shops who were regularly rude and vulgar.

    So, although anecdotal, it is my opinion that the people you are describing are craftsmen rather than professionals. That is to say, people not well educated. Not the kind of people you want having a great input bettering society.

  3. ns

    Women should feel comfortable in tech. Full stop.

    This sort of crap makes women feel uncomfortable in tech.

    Don’t do this kind of crap.

  4. ns

    Cool, Anonymous. Let’s just replace ‘sexism’ with ‘classism’ and keep the argument going another couple days.

  5. Anonymous

    Cool, ns. Defend the ignorant. I’m with you! Just don’t try and defend ignorance. These guys should get a clue. The analysis/evidence is out there.

    It would actually be to men’s benefit. That’s the point. It is not an issue of making women feel more comfortable. The lack of decorum takes away from what men can accomplish.

  6. Charles Martel

    >It would actually be to men’s benefit. That’s the point. It is not an issue of >making women feel more comfortable. The lack of decorum takes away from >what men can accomplish.

    For all the justifications for PC whining this is one of the worst in the thread.

    You’re saying that it’s for our own good? Spare me. What is the underlying logic here? To only thing I’ve seen is that kowtowing to the whiners in society or in any group only makes them whine harder.

    Males have been dominating science for centuries because we feel a strong desire to go our own way and not just accept what we’re told. Maybe Anon, you can look to how those awful, racist, evil, nasty white males go about doing things before you offer your suggestions on how they can change to make it better. They’ve only invented civilization, but I’m sure you’re PC drivel is just what everyone needs!

  7. Charles Martel

    This need to “call out” people is the symptom of an unhealthy culture.

    Do people really need to boost their own ego and flash their PC bona fides to feel good about them selves? Yes Nancy, you’re so NOT RACIST and so RIGHTFULLY THINKING that you are at least double-plus better than the rest of us…

    The game of “I’m offended” is easy to play since being offended has no objective standard whatsoever. There may be one girl offended in an entire room of people but you can be sure she is going to exercise that hard won grrrrrlpower and bore the rest of us with her emotions. Yes, she is so sensitive after decades on this earth that one mere image is enough to “deep[ly] offend her.”

    And girls don’t forget that shaming language! If YOU get offended the only reason is because the speaker “embarrassed himself” – so add that little dig in. Because after all Princess, you’re emotions are self-justifying and don’t let any evil man tell you otherwise!

  8. SR Chalup

    Thanks for posting about this. I wasn’t there, but I would also have felt similarly to how you did if I had been. All I can do from the sidelines is validate, but I’m happy to do that.

  9. William Jones

    This thread is amusing. On one hand we have Kagan who is clearly an asshole. And on the other we have the guy who is so comfortable with his masculinity he has to rub it in everyone’s face, whose obviously an insecure asshole.

    And then we have the children, the boys who think that anyone who expects them to act like an adult is a “bitch”, which makes them assholes.

    And finally we have the politically correct crowd, who thinks that if they *decide* to be offended, therefore, offense has occurred and apologies are necessary which is– wait for it– a pretty assholish perspective.

    Let me clear it up for you:
    Having a vagina is not a license to passive-aggressively demand that everyone cater to you, lest you call them a misogynist.
    Having a penis is not a license to act like a 13 year old, and call people names when they point out that you should be humiliated.

    That this needs explaining AT ALL, is due to the really poor standards that exist in the USA. I blame it on the fact that the government run schools are churning out mindless unthinking consumers (and if you vote either republican or democrat, you are mindless and unthinking.)

    Finally– I’m an asshole for speaking all this truth without couching it in touchy-feely terms so you don’t have your mindless unthinking interrupted!

  10. Anonymous

    @William Jones

    Thanks for the constructive analysis. Let me see if I understand correctly.

    You help us identify: “clearly and asshole”, “obviously an insecure asshole”, “them assholes”, and finally “a pretty assholish perspective”.

    Then you say: “Let me clear it up for you… if you vote either republican or democrat, you are mindless and unthinking.”

    You sum up with: “Finally– I’m an asshole for speaking all this truth…”

    So you analysis is — we are all either mindless, unthinking, or … assholes? :-)

    @Charles Martel

    I never mentioned PC whiners. Guess you just skimmed over my comments. Oh well, how about getting back to the issue. Is decorum important? I believe it is, irregardless of what your feelings are about PC whiners. Frankly, I don’t see much possibility of disagreement on this.

  11. Charles Martel

    For the record, I’m not sure how much decorum in a tech talk to fellow tech people is required. I’d rather hear something interesting or entertaining than someone’s attempt to follow some arbitrary rules. So yes, I think given the type of talk it was, not much decorum – however you define it – was necessary.

    Still, if it was about “decorum” then certainly a polite note after the fact would suffice. Instead, the writer claims she was “deeply offen[ded]” by the slide and threw a hissy fit. I can guarantee it’s not the first time this slide was used. I’m guessing out of the 100’s of people to see the slide this is the only one who freaked out so much over it. And if its innocuous enough to only offended so rarely I would say the blame is on the hyper-sensitive girl complaining and not on the guy who made the slide.

    So if you want to complain about decorum write to the post author for her numerous self-documented instances of rudeness in this post alone and leave the rest of us alone.

  12. Anca

    I came across AppSumo last week – basically it’s a giant “enter your email in here” form, with no additional information or faces of who’s behind it (or what they’re going to do w/ my address). Now that I know who it is, I’m even less likely to give up my email address.

    Yick.

  13. stephani

    I doubt the author was the first person offended about it. It’s a pretty safe bet that others have been offended but have either a. not written about it or b. written about it but not have had it garner as much attention.

  14. Jess

    What about this part?

    Noah put up on the screen a picture of a young woman . . . writhing, I guess you’d say . . . on a floor, maybe? . . . in ecstasy — well, maybe. . . in pain, probably (a lot more pain than pleasure is what it looked like to me). And he tried very hard to get a couple of the audience members to describe the picture in some detail or put a word to her state.

    There wasn’t just one slide. Personally, I’d be more comfortable with a “bitch” slide than that.

  15. Steve Holden

    @Charles Martel: when you say “Frailty, thy name is woman! Because really, would any man write paragraph upon paragraph about how offended they are about something? Who cares if you’re offended? It’s takes extreme solipsism to think that your emotional reactions are society’s crisis” you do not speak for me.

    Since your best advice is “Stop whining darling,” why don’t you go on over and read my post on childish behavior and ask yourself why nobody bothered to give me advice in such terms? Answer: because am a man, and therefore not to be condescended to in that way. In short: sexism.

    Your world view appears rather anally closed to alternative interpretations of gender roles. Of course I don’t know you, I only have the drivel you write to draw conclusions from. This is the 21st century, after all. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  16. Jane

    Right on. It is possible to be edgy and hip and interesting and relevant without calling women bitches or depicting them in humiliating poses.

  17. ag Post author

    Anca, That AppSumo front page seems so ironic to me. As a company, they demand great trust — you have to give them your email just to get in and look around the site — and assure you, right under the email input line that “we are not jerks”. But then their number one spokesman seems to be intentionally cultivating a ‘jerk’ persona.

    I actually had a link to AppSumo in the original version of my post but was asked to remove it specifically because linking to it might encourage someone who wouldn’t normally give out his/her email to do so.

  18. a p

    By reacting to the charade, he ‘won’ in one ups-person-ship match.

    This is a game invented and played by men (or at least my 5 brothers) and what a professor had called the phenom known amongst the rhetoricians.

    Take a page from the playbook and realize that highly effective people do not get caught up in nonsense. Or look at nonsense and make a comedic moment from it as laughter is essential to one’s healthy mental health.

    There, I’ve done my act of humanitarian kindness today

  19. N

    Many people are completely desensitized to the objectification of women by the myriad ways women’s bodies are used to sell things. This doesn’t just make it OK for everyone and it doesn’t promote equality in the workplace or anywhere else. Particularly in a field where women are under-represented and frequently struggle to be heard and treated with respect. Most people work with others from diverse cultures and in order to work together constructively it is important to have professional conduct. I don’t care if this guy is a jerk, or hates his ex or is addicted to porn or whatever in his free time. Just don’t bring it to work.

  20. Melissa

    Good for you for speaking up; I would have felt the same way. I think that too often women in IT run into this behavior and just suck it up because we already feel ostracized. We shouldn’t have to put up with this sort of thing in a supposedly professional environment – it does nothing to foster an inclusive, creative or productive environment. If it had been a racial dig, it would not have been tolerated. I find it really amusing that he lists one of his life goals on his website as being: Treat others with respect and always try to help others. Hmmm…. apparently hypocrisy is another one of Kagan’s “talents.”

  21. sz

    If Kagan was presenting to a room full of women would he have put up the “Bitch” slide? probably not – because in that situation unless he is completely obtuse, he would have thought about his audience, and known the reaction. how about the “woman writhing on the floor” slide? I dunno probably not.

    This demonstrates something I have frequently seen as a woman in tech. Creating a presentation which is targeted towards a male audience, and a specific male audience at that. One with a teenage level of emotional attitude. One in which the “normal” response would be yah what a bitch my ex-girlfriend was also. Any women present are not considered. We are worse than disliked, its as if we don’t exist.

    This kind of attitude is not limited to men. I can think of women I have met who are still mad at ex-husbands, and who I can imagine doing something like this, if they thought that the audience would be full of bitter women like themselves. But that would be an extremely unusual situation.

    There are some great books which deal with this subject. “The Second Sex” is a classic. Likewise as you point out, people of a non-dominant race or religion often encounter these things. Can you imagine if the speaker had put up a picture of a muslim praying and labeled it “terrorist” – that would have completely gone over the heads of most of the crowd as well. But the muslims in the group would feel distinctly singled out as well.

    People who are in the dominant groups in a society often have no idea – are blind to the effect of what they do and say – are blind to the idea that there could be any other effect or interpretation of their actions.

    Once upon a time in the US “blackface” was considered just a very fun and funny thing and was standard in vaudeville. Maybe change will come one day also for women in male-dominated professions as well.

  22. td

    Anne,

    I was there, sitting right across the aisle from you. I was one of the people who Kagan attempted to get to describe the writhing woman. It was *VERY* uncomfortable (and I am a man — a married man with a daughter, if that changes anything).

    In addition to being a programmer and entrepreneur, I’ve also spent considerable time in front of audiences. I’ve worked professionally as a musician and actor, and have also taught both performing arts and computer science at both the high school and university level.

    I bring that up only to back up this claim: I’m in a pretty good position to recognize the difference between an honest attempt to connect with an audience, and immature attention-seeking behavior.

    Kagan was the poster-child for immature attention-seeking behavior.

    Kagan’s talk was really the low point of the conference for me. In fact, after his talk I decided to skip the social gatherings the next couple evenings, telling myself, “If that’s the kind of thing these people are into, I can find better things to do in Las Vegas.”

    In any case, while I wish you hadn’t thrown that bottle, because it draws the attention for his immaturity to you, I agree with everything you’ve said (and everything you felt) here.

  23. Hèlen Grives

    @Charles males have only dominated by carefully eliminating female competition over the centuries. They did not invent civilization; they killed it by killing millions of men! While most women raised numerous offspring without men. If men had been so sure of themselves they had never ever had any problem with women doing men stuff.

    In general I do see a lack of eloquence in society. Rudeness may be the norm if we agree to accept it. Rudeness is not well spoken criticism or honesty. We can still be polite and say sharp things. That is true skillness because you don’t lose your audience when you do that. And effectiveness marks the purpose of the talk. What does someone want to accomplish with his/her talking of writing?

    And the emotion-card is bad played as anger, discust, excitement are all emotions. Emotions drives people; it’s also the addiction to status and all other desires that are deep routed in our brains. We have them. Nothing more or nothing less. However some emotions inhibit or stimulate others in us. That is the key. Their functions may interfere with our goals when we do or want things.

  24. Espree

    Ladies and Gentlemen CHILL THE F OUT. OMG.

    DISCLAIMER: Avid AppSumo customer.

    MOTIVE TO WRITE THIS: I learn so much from Noah about how to be an effective business owner, I think it’s a shame you’re losing out.

    ## and here it goes…

    This post is ridiculous. Whine whine whine. I wasn’t there, but to me it seems like you missed the point.

    “Type faster” means get your shit out there fast, see if you gets customers to prove the concept and then automate your systems to grow the company rather than maintain. So many people make excuses to delay launch. And the conference was about launching.

    Having a random slide for shock or comedic value is called a “pattern interrupt” to keep the audience mentally engaged. He was the last speaker right?… I am sure you guys were exhausted.

    In learning from Noah and his company a bit over the last few months he is one of only two entrepreneurs in the world I would pause being a business owner to work for in order to learn from. He genuinely cares about his customers/ target market and goes over and beyond to be supportive of their success. His courage to be so transparent is beyond unbelievable which is why we can trust him.

    And instead of spending that valuable one on one time trying to critique his presentation skills wouldn’t it have been more beneficial to ask him questions that would directly benefit the growth of your business… Wasn’t that why you attended Micro Conf in the first place? Would you critique Richard Branson or ask him questions…

    And if you were offended by Noah then definitely don’t ever listen to Frank Kern or Howard Stern. Haha.

  25. ag Post author

    I’d like to post a general apology. I’m going to try to answer as many comments that seem to call for a reply as I can. But I am sure I’m going to overlook someone or just run out of finger energy.

    Please know that I appreciate all the comments (yes, even the quite negative ones).

    Note to self: never schedule a week of vacation for the same time as your blog post goes viral.

    ag

  26. ag Post author

    @Patrick: I had been referred by a business associate to an online community centered around a particular hobby with a sub-forum of Android apps. I asked them, very humbly, if any of them would be able to try SnapToMe and give me feedback. I was overwhelmed with the generosity and usefulness of their feedback. To go from 0 to your first two dozen users and hear back from every single one of them is, in the app marketplace, a rare and gratifying experience.

  27. ag Post author

    @William: Thanks for the comment and the link to the violetblue post; she’s not a writer I’ve come across before. (I know, it’s a sheltered life one lives when you’ve got a day job and a startup. ;-))

    I do consider my taste for the writings of Joel Spolsky to be a bit of a vice but I really don’t get to laugh enough and he does make me laugh, or used to, anyway.

  28. ag Post author

    @Robin. Sorry, not going disappearing from the internet any time soon. Count on that.

    See the reply by johndburger for the correct linguistic analysis (IMO).

    [A much less erudite way to say the same thing would be: If you believe every guy in an audience should identify with a slide with the word "asshole" on it in the same way I reacted to Noah's slide, then you have a very, very dark view of men.]

    @johndburger — Thank you!

  29. ag Post author

    @James Skemp, Yes, you are absolutely right. Either walking up afterwards or interrupting with a polite question would have been MUCH better. I did try, both the next day and with a later email, to enter in to a discussion and got rebuffed both times. But I think the polite hand-raising and question, which would have given others a chance to speak up, might have worked and I can only wish I had tried it.

  30. ag Post author

    @Steve Holden: Thanks for the support. I finally got a chance to follow the link in your post and appreciate what you wrote there. I’m not a contributor to Python but love the language and use it whenever I can. It’s also the only programming language my daughter and I share. So it is great to know that the Python development community takes the time and energy to think through gender and diversity issues. I support the board’s decision that freedom of speech should generally trump matters of good taste when it comes to module naming. Your personal decision to then “call out” the issue was a great one.

  31. ag Post author

    @ a p: I appreciate your attempt at kindness but I’m not sure I understand your point.

    I concede that I’ve given Noah Kagan and AppSumo a remarkable amount of free publicity in the last ten days. I agree laughter is essential to mental health and I probably don’t get enough of it.

    But this wasn’t nonsense i got caught up in. With apologies to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of boorish, misogynist behavior is that good women say nothing.”

    It’s not playing a game to stand up for what it right and call people out for doing/saying something that offends you.

  32. ag Post author

    @td: Thank you so much for your comments. It’s good to know I was on the same wave length with others in the room; I sure thought I was.

    And, please know that we wish exactly the same thing about that bottle of hot sauce, but no matter how hard I wish, I’m not getting it back. I’ll just have to keep trying on that “think before you act” thing that has been such a lifelong challenge for me.

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  34. djb

    @anon and @charles martel:

    Men have regularly spoken up when faced with hate speech in a public place. They speak up when synagogues are spray-painted with swastikas, they speak up when nooses are hanged from the lockers of black firefighters, and there are a whole lot of men speaking up against bullying of LGBT youth. And there are men, like a man who has no issues with his masculinity, who will speak up when hate speech is used to make sure every woman in the room knows her place and stays the hell out of the boys’ club they want tech to be.

    The technical start-up world still has the “no gurlz allowed” signs up, which is a shame. Seriously, y’all should be ashamed of yourselves. And you should be sued for employment discrimination and creating a hostile work environment, because those laws actually exist and mean.

    So, to those who think that so long as you get information from a conversation, it is OK to take abuse, what about this scenario? In order to get your question answered by the alpha-geek, you have to let him (or her) hit you as hard as he/she pleases and where he/she pleases. Are you stupid enough to stick around? That is what you are asking tech women to put up with. And exactly why? Because you don’t want to be bothered growing up. That is just dog lame.

  35. Miriam Hochwald

    Maybe we should have a world wide strike or collective action or something on Women’s Day, to highlight the need for changing sexist attitudes in ICT? If this profession is to take itself seriously it also needs to be accountable.

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