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The Female Tech Community Responds To 'Donglegate'

Kevin Smith

There is a big controversy raging in the tech world after Adria Richards, a former developer evangelist for email delivery company SendGrid, was offended at a conference in Silicon Valley.

Richards was sitting in front of two men who were making jokes about "dongles" and "forking". She stood up, took a photo of the men, and sent it out to her 10,000 Twitter followers.

This resulted in one of the guys, a mobile engineer at  Play Haven , getting fired from his job and subsequently Richards getting fired from her job as well. It may seem like a harsh punishment, but in the male-dominated world of tech, an accusation of sexist behavior is serious.

The bizarre situation has divided the tech community. Here's a sample of some reactions:

  • SendGrid, Richards' former employer issued a statement  about her termination. SendGrid  said that Richards had a right to stand up for herself when she felt offended, but the way she handled it was inappropriate and divided a community that she was supposed to be working to unite.
  • Amanda Blum a female figure in the tech community shared her thoughts on the situation. She defined the entire fiasco as a loss for everyone and pointed out that Richards, "is not an easy person [to work with]" . Blum suggests that Richards doesn't have a positive track record in the tech community.
  • A female developer who preferred to remain anonymous told Business Insider, " [Adrina] doesn't represent my views, a dongle joke wouldn't offend me. I'd probably think it was funny, in fact I probably would have found it funny 10 years ago before I came into this industry.  I want someone who is reasonable, measured and creative in how they interact with difficult situations (not that I think this situation was). It makes me suspect that she is just as reactionary as the idiots who are now threatening her on Twitter."
  • Rachel Sklar, co-founder of  Change The Ratio , a company that increases visibility and opportunity for women in tech and new media told Business Insider, "Adria  doesn't represent all women in tech . But the hateful reaction to her has been breathtaking, and frightening. You cannot brush off  repeated threats of rape . And honestly, check out a comments section on this stuff once in a while. (I don't plan on checking out this one.) It's when things blow up that it becomes impossible not to notice that women get treated scarily, threateningly and very specifically  worse .  And THAT's what SendGrid capitulated to. Their actions have been cowardly and intellectually dishonest. They could learn something from the employee they just cut loose."

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