Woman fired for speaking up against sexism

Adria Richards was fired from her job as a developer evangelist with SendGrid this morning because she had the nerve to speak out about sexist and inappropriate behavior she witnessed at a mostly male tech conference, PyCon.

In a nutshell, while attending a professional conference comprised of 80 percent men and roughly 20 percent female attendees, Richards overheard a male attendee make an inappropriate joke. She took the offender’s picture and posted it on Twitter along with a message to the conference organizers asking them to act on the poor behavior.

The PyCon Code of Conduct declares sexist language and sexual innuendo to be against the rules, so the offenders were asked to leave, and one of them was subsequently fired by his employer when they found out about his behavior.

What followed was the Internet equivalent of gangland style retribution. Richards was attacked on both her personal site and Twitter accounts, and her employers received attacks and threats to their business as well.

There were threats to both rape and kill her because the offending party had lost his job.

On their Facebook page, SendGrid posted the following:

“Effective immediately, SendGrid has terminated the employment of Adria Richards. While we generally are sensitive and confidential with respect to employee matters, the situation has taken on a public nature. We have taken action that we believe is in the overall best interests of SendGrid, its employees, and our customers. As we continue to process the vast amount of information, we will post something more comprehensive.”

So basically, in response to public reaction to Richards publicly shaming her offender, SendGrid publicly shames her and subjects her to even further public shaming.

Good job, guys. Way to celebrate Women’s History Month.

The tech field is a male-dominated one, and now that women have come in to try and take their place among their male peers, what they are being told by all of this is that it doesn’t matter your accomplishments, your performance or your contributions; this is a man’s world, and you need to either shut up or ship out.

That Richards should be fired for speaking out against something that is inherently wrong in our society demonstrates that the culture of rape still exists here, and victim blaming and shaming will continue to prevail.

The common theme among my male counterparts on Twitter seems to be that Richards should have addressed him privately and not publicly call attention to his behavior.

The message here is clear; suffer in silence ladies, or feel the wrath of a world still not ready to give women equal treatment.

Happy Women’s History Month indeed.