9 Women Write Open Letter To Tech Industry To Combat Sexism

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Woman_Stop_Hand
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Last week we shared some of the blatant sexism that was put on public display at recent events in the tech industry, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Fed up with the sexism, harassment and insults that continue to plague the industry they love and have dedicated their careers to, nine women have come together to voice their discontent.

Sara, Ellen, Sabrina, Kat, Joanne, Angelina, Jessica, Jennifer and Divya each work in different areas of tech. They are employees, software engineers, designers, technology journalists, etc. at major companies that include the likes of Adobe Systems, BuzzFeed, Kickstarter, Stripe and Mozilla.

Their “new feminist manifesto”, as its being referred to, was posted on the page AboutFeminism.me, set up by the women at the end of May. Not hiding their anger, or their identities, these women have put themselves on the front line, bringing the issues facing women in tech to a wider audience. It is their hope that their candor will be the catalyst to affect much needed change.

We are sharing only a few passages, as we encourage you to read the statement in its entirety. It is brilliant, albeit disturbing.

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We happen to be humans who loved technology and embrace it wholeheartedly. But it was always clear things would be different if we were male. Some of us identified as feminists before we came to this industry. Some of us only began to understand the relevance of feminism as we sought to understand what’s been happening to us.

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But maybe you thought because we weren’t as loud, that this stuff doesn’t happen to us.

We’ve been harassed on mailing lists and called ‘whore’/‘cunt’ without any action being taken against aggressors.

We get asked about our relationships at interviews, and we each have tales of being groped at public events. We’ve been put in the uncomfortable situation of having men attempt to turn business meetings into dates.

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We love working in this industry.

We love collaborating with like-minded colleagues.

We can’t give up and leave.

We’d rather be writing blog posts about best practices for development, design, and tech management instead of the one we’re writing now.

We are tired of pretending this stuff doesn’t happen and continue to keep having these experiences again and again. We keep our heads down working at our jobs hoping that if we just work hard at what we do, maybe somehow the problem will go away.

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We are tired of our male peers pretending that because they do not participate in bad behavior, that it is not their problem to solve. If you see someone engage in bad behavior and you do nothing, you’ve chosen to let that person think that what they did is okay. This leaves us feeling like we’re fighting this alone.

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Being nice doesn’t work. We’ve been nice. Some of us that wrote these have even been paraded around by men in the industry for how nice we’ve been in trying to address the social problems in tech as a way to discredit more vocal, astutely firm feminist voices. We don’t like this, we’ve never liked it, and it needs to stop.

Being nice and talking politely about injustice does not compel the group in power to do anything that unseats their power.

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Sharing these stories helped us see we were not alone and our experiences were valid. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for safe, respectful working environments. We have a network in each other.

We are your community leaders, your open source contributors, your keynote speakers, and many call us role models.

We choose to speak now.

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