Friday, March 29, 2013

Donglegate - Who Really Cares?

Recently I popped by Tangleball. There were a couple of people there and someone had mentioned "Donglegate".

Never heard of it? Neither had I. Basically, at PyCon (a programming conference based around Python), a woman, Adria Richards, had heard a comment made by two guys about "forking" (taking open source software and making their own version about it) and big "dongles" (anything that's "inserted" into a computer externally - i.e. Monitor dongle, usb dongle etc.) and as a result twitted a picture of the guys making the comment with the most offensive content of the tweet being about it being "uncool".

It's all lead to horribly sexist comments and 2 people (Adria Richards and "one of the guys pictured") losing their jobs.

My research, after having gone to Tangleball, has resulted in me learning of Adria Richards, who had gone to a conference, heard a, what she interprets to be, a derogatory comment, "joke" (I put joke in quotations as it's subjective to the audience) made at PyCon and that 2 people lost their jobs. Her, and and one of the guys pictured.

To which I issue a great big "WTF?". It's created this great big frenzy of comments. At Tangleball the comment was made "Why did HR make a big enough issue of this as to lead to people loosing their jobs?", which I agree with, but more importantly, this is being portrayed, perhaps not purposely, in the media, as a malcontent making waves leading to her and "one of the men in the photo" loosing their jobs.

Okay, so it was her choice to tweet about it. I blogged about sexism in I.T. during NetHui. Woman in I.T. suffer some, to me, surprisingly, injustices in I.T. I've heard of females feeling unsafe during conferences. But for me I'm always surprised by a woman not being employed by the industry. If I.T. is all about problem solving, then having a different perspective on things, has to be an asset. Best practise only goes so far.

I think, a comment made about a big dongle can only go so far, and that forking is likewise, I suggest to people that judgement needs to be withheld. Why? We don't really know what the comment was. But more importantly, to me at least, is the way the media has handled this. Adria Richards is portrayed as a malcontent (I've heard comments about it being an over-reaction though we're talking about twitter - 140 characters or less). Only one of the two guys pictured (and not named) also lost their job (benefit of the doubt - what if it was the other one?).

So to me - this only really emphasises the sexism within the I.T. trade and funnily enough, how we accept this as true. While we comment that it's a male dominated field, we seem okay with the idea that females have little or no value. You know what I'm gonna say to that... What The Fornication!??

After having just read this post, I'm feeling inclined to clarify my position a little more. I'm not taking sides. As the post reference says, death by a thousand cuts, or, the straw that broke the camel's back. While the comment was indeed intended as a joke (after a little more research), there's the whole final straw phenomenon. We can get slowly angry about one thousand things - people laughing at us, sexist comments, people recycling the old horribly sexist and terrible joke (that's what she said) etc. But we see the sudden burst at the 1001'st thing as an over reaction rather than taking it as part of a whole. I actually think that females in I.T. should be fostered to an extent - at the very least, we need to start listening to what they say rather than dismissing it. I know this doesn't sit well with the whole equality thing but given the different ways of viewing things, I think that discussion and actually coming up with the best fit solutions rather than worrying about where the suggestion came from is a good thing to all concerned.

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