Facets: Issue 49

January 20, 2017

Developer Tells Her Story Publicly as Hacker Community Struggles to Address Sexual Assault

Kate Conger

Major Hacker Conference Organisers Accused Of Ignoring Harassment, Enabling Abusers

Melanie Ehrenkranz
attendees have said that the conference organizers allowed a person who allegedly assaulted another attendee last year to attend this year’s conference and rejected talks about harassment.

It’s not enough to "denounce" harassment and abuse. The real difficulty is in listening to those who tell us that which we don’t want to hear and they don’t want to say– and then acting, meaningfully. Conger and Ehrenkranz both report on the long-standing issues at Chaos Communication Congress and the organizers’ ignorance of them, from assault allegations against prominent members to groups assembling "code-of-conduct free” events. Both pieces reflect a long-held frustration with the community at large as alleged and known abusers are welcomed and enabled, and victims excluded.

If gender and race are artificial constructs, does diversity matter?

Timi Olotu
We turn victimhood into a mechanism for attaining disproportionately large power, then do what humans do best when we wield too much power—abuse it.

Olotu’s piece begins with stats, but it isn’t about them: it’s about the philosophical underpinnings of how we perceive and act on them. Olotu presents the idea that when we acknowledge diversity’s value and want to capitalize on it, we need to also acknowledge lack of uniformity, and therefore inequalities in ability. Doing so isn’t a problem— the problem arises when our biases cause us to value some abilities more than others, and that bias manifests itself in behaviour. A great read, with implications far beyond the world of software.

Time’s Up: I Was Fired As A Software Engineer

Keri Gannon
Every time I read a job post, I ask myself, “Will I be psychologically safe here?"

When interviewing at Tempus, a biomedical research company in Chicago, Gannon was told that the software engineer role wasn’t appropriate for someone pregnant or with children at home. While there, she witnessed ableism and sexism enabled at alcohol-focused work events, with loud complaints about women. For speaking out, her reward was being summarily escorted from the office and being told that her employment was “not going to work out.” A useful reminder that it isn’t what we do which matters most, but the environment in which we do so, and the people who populate it— does everyone feel safe? Are you sure?

Please stop making me come out as non-binary at work

Eden Rohatensky
The most reassuring response a potential employer can offer to my questions about corporate culture is something along the lines of “It’s not the best it could be, but we’re actively trying and listening

After expressing a preference for non-binary pronouns, Rohatensky was told that a company which had offered a contract five hours earlier no longer needed their services. The act of coming out as anything “different” can be terrifying, no matter how small it may seem to others; it means identifying ourselves as the odd one out. And if there are consequences for that act, as Rohatensky points point, then we’ll hardly feel safe doing so, and hardly in a position to do our best work.


Read Sage Sharp's #CoCSmells thread to identify "warning signs that an event or community won't enforce their Code of Conduct," to be able to prepare for or avoid such events. The warning signs are also published on Sharp's site.

Twitter - Sage Sharp

Follow Zebras Unite, an inclusive movement to counter existing start-up and venture capital culture by providing resources to build zebra companies rather than unicorns: mutualistic, profitable companies, solving meaningful problems and repairing broken social systems in the process. A project by Jennifer Brandel, Mara Zepeda, Astrid Scholz & Aniyia Williams. Read their manifesto, Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break.

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