Flashback: Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost – women in high tech

This is from 2013 but I found it informative. I worked as a computer programmer (for about 30 years) and did not find the field to be particularly clogged with offensive males. So I am interested in the flood of stories I see in my “sexism” alert about the women and computer-related fields.  (There is a whole area called GamerGate that I still am only vaguely informed about).

I came across this in my searching at one point:

Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost
By Amanda Blum

Let me get this out of the way:  I don’t like Adria Richards. I think I have good reason to not like Adria Richards. So I should be feeling some major Schadenfreude right now. Instead, though, I think what’s unfolded in the developer community in recent days has been a tragedy. Here’s why.

  • Adria Richards was an attendee at PyCon, a tech conference, as part of her job as a developer evangelist at Sendgrid, a tech company that manages emails.
  • She took offense to a conversation two men, also developers for a company called Play Haven, were having behind her during the conference, in which they referenced “dongles” and “forking”. Both of these are tech terms, they were construed to be used sexually on Adria’s part.
  • Without ever mentioning her offense to the men, she took their picture, posted it to twitter and asked PyCon to do something about it.


Within 24 hours, Adria was being attacked with the vile words people use only when attacking women. They called her a man hater (this was the nicest thing they said) who robbed a father of three of his livelihood. Then the threats began- on twitter, on her blog, on facebook. She should get raped, she should be fired, she should be killed, she should kill herself. A petition was started and people threatened SendGrid’s business. The company itself suffered a DDOS attack. All this ridiculousness made Adria look reasonable in comparison.

She didn’t get the developer in question fired… Play Haven did that and there are probably details of that transaction we aren’t privy to…

Read it all here.

All I can say is that people in general (one sees it everywhere) get offended at slightest thing and go nuts. This is supposed to be progress?  Is this a sign that I am becoming an “old fogey”?