Adria Richards, a female technology evangelist is living in the aftermath of a Tweet that got her fired, “divided the tech community,” and has brought out critics, feminists, supporters, and ugly trolls.
What did she do? She was at a conference and Tweeted a picture and message. That’s it.
For the record, I consider Adria to be a good friend. We met several years ago at a WordCamp Atlanta conference and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. I saw her most recently in San Francisco about a year ago.
During the visit (I’m from East Palo Alto), I interviewed her about her YouTube success for my video production tutorial site.
I caught wind about the controversy through my YouTube channel.
I wasn’t aware of the larger story, so I emailed Adria that something about her video was attracting hate.
I then shared what was going on with a work colleague. By this time, one of the commenters alluded to something she did that led to another person losing their job. The YouTube
commenter troll then apologized to me after realizing that I wasn’t Adria (I then deleted another round of comments and disabled comments on the video).
Around the same time my co-worker said, “Your friend got someone fired, and she got fired too.”
That’s when it all came together.
Rachel Sklar says Richards’ former employer SendGrid made a kneejerk mistake to pacify the trolls. Dani Alexis understands the struggles and challenges that go along with being a woman in the male dominated tech industry. John Petersen suggests that there is a measure of immaturity in the tech industry, but says the Richards actions fueled the fire when she Tweeted her complaint.
This situation has caused a firestorm in the tech world. Stories about sexism in tech have been getting more attention of late. This case seems to have taken the conversation to new heights or lows depending on your perspective.
Adria wrote about the incident in great detail, but that was before her employer decided to fire her publicly on Twitter.
For those who are waiting for her to speak publicly, she is probably going to talk about it eventually. When it happens, I’m sure it be all over the internet and in the media. This has turned into a national if not an international story.
One little tweet has raised a number of social and legal issues.
Her former employer is having to deal with the consequences of firing her. Richards is going to have to answer some tough questions at some point, and the man who she targeted in the Tweet has some decisions to make as well.
The tech industry will most certainly have to take a deeper look at how it will push this conversation forward. Those who like to speculate will do so, and the trolls will be hateful, evil, ugly trolls.
Did Adria expect to become the poster child of sexism in Silicon Valley? Probably not. Did she expect to be on the radar of just about every major online and traditional media outlet? I doubt it. Did she want to shed light on an issue or problem that deserves more attention? Probably.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and this issue will in one way or another elevate our collective consciousness regarding an industry that has a very short yet homogenous history.
Sure, the Internet may have been started by men, but those men came from women and there is no reason why the industry can’t become more inclusive or diverse.
If you look back, the news business was dominated by white men not so long ago. Women have now taken over for all intents and purposes. From the anchor desk to sports locker rooms, they can’t can’t be denied.
I just hope that those who are interested in a conversation about women’s place in technology are open to an intelligent discussion.