Friday, March 22, 2013

My two cents on Donglegate

If you're not familiar with Donglegate, there is a ton of stuff on the innertubes about it, so I will just post a link to what I consider the most sensible post I've seen so far on this whole sorry mess.

I've worked in the tech industry for many years. Every place I've worked in has been overwhelmingly male but there have always been extremely bright, capable women also, whom I've respected and enjoyed working with.

I once worked with a guy who had a really creepy way with women. He once left a dongle in a co-worker's computer, and since he sat next to me, I overheard him phoning her to say, in a very leering voice, "I left my dongle in your computer. You realize this incriminates both of us, don't you?" I cringed, and could only imagine the woman's reaction.

There were several other incidents where the guy made inappropriate remarks to women, and he had a reputation in the company for being a creep. A couple of times women vented to me about him, and I commiserated, but he was a peer so I wasn't in a position to discipline him. But now that I look back, I regret that I didn't take him aside and tell him that he was being inappropriate and people were complaining about him, and he needed to get his act together.

I'm sure that on various occasions I've unwittingly said things that made my female co-workers feel uncomfortable. I would much rather be told about it privately, and given a chance to apologize and learn from the incident, than have my picture plastered all over the internet.

I feel sorry for Adria Richards, and condemn the abuse and threats that were directed at her. But there's no denying that she mishandled the situation in a way that made her employer look bad and was incompatible with her role as the public face of the company.

I also empathize with the guy who was fired, who has since made a very classy apology. It's hard to find any winners in this situation. Too many people and companies have overreacted, and two people's careers are harmed, perhaps permanently. Very sad.

I think we all need to think about the fact that certain things are inappropriate to say in public, but there are also inappropriate ways of reacting (and of reacting to the reaction, and so on). Let's all try to be decent human beings and not lose a sense of perspective!

1 comment:

  1. One thing that would go a long way toward avoiding all this shit is if we stopped treating men and women like different species. Men v Women humor, TV shows, advertising... it's all contributing, and it's all gross.