March 22nd, 2013
Here’s an excellent post by Amanda Blum discussing the latest Women in Tech tragedy. I call it a tragedy because people got hurt and damage could have been avoided every step of the way but instead spiraled out of control.
Standing up about women’s issues is hard. Choosing which issues are worthy of fighting the good fight and how best to handle a situation are not always obvious. It’s a touchy subject. Folks are nervous.
Sometimes the pendulum has to swing too far in the other direction before things right themselves. Was her public response an overreaction? Christie Koehler makes a good point in a recent post Bold IdeasUttered Publicly: “…as someone not part of the dominant social order you have limited options for calling attention to transgressive behavior.”
Read the entire post for a thoughtful explanation of what that means, but my take (and from personal experience) is that it’s really, really hard for a minority to speak up directly.
Let’s be honest, when was the last time you called someone out for bad behavior to their face?
Regardless of whether you side with Adria or with how she handled the incident, all can agree that things definitely got out of hand thereafter.
Honestly, I feel bad that someone was fired over something that could easily have come out of my own mouth but it’s the subsequent nerd range and death threats against Adria that make me even more afraid to speak up (about anything) than I was before.
As a dear male colleague said to me, “Why can’t we talk openly about these things without it exploding?”