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Why men matter to women in tech

If you missed it on the news, Microsoft’s XBox division got into hot water because of their choice of entertainment at the Game Developers Conference 2016. After even hosting a women in gaming lunch, someone decided that women half dressed as schoolgirls was appropriate fun for a social event. Head of XBox Phil Spencer was not amused and issued this statement:

A Message from Phil Spencer

The fact that this decision got past several people just amazes me. With corporate events, there’s budget approval and receipts and multiple people aware of the ‘run sheet’ for the night, so this wasn’t just poor judgement by one person. Nobody stopped it. As an organization, you can’t spend your day telling women they are respected and valued for their skills and contribution to tech, then think that half dressed school girl dancers are a good idea.

The problem is that organizations don’t organise events, people do. And more than one person in your organization didn’t understand the culture that you are trying to create.

Putting that aside for a minute, the best part is how women are treated when they speak up about it.

I tweeted:

“Thanks to the men speaking out about #gdc #xbox Your support is important when there are still people who don’t get why this looks bad.”

And then the trolls came.

“It’s harmless fun. If this was a knitting convention, and they hired male dancers, no one would say a word. Love double standards.”

And when a male stepped in he got “Hey, I’m right here, cuck. Why not say it to me, instead of fedora-tipping to the triggered feminist?”

Then the troll called in his friends with a “CAN I GET SOME MUSCLE OVER HERE?” “You encouraging a woman to get all irate over harmless dancers at a party shows me who the true idiot is.”

I was also told “People can’t make money in their chosen profession because I don’t like it.” and

“What would you have? The women not show up and dance in a sketchy strip club instead? At least they’re safe.”

This is why men are so important to women in tech.

When you draw the line and say “Not on my watch. This is not ok.” your voice holds more weight than us self-serving triggered feminists who are just out to ruin a harmless bit of fun.

I know there’s a special corner of twitter land where big brave trolls hide behind anonymous names while they attack. What’s more impressive is the people with their real names who are brave enough to call out things like this as unacceptable for a workplace.

I actually had a great little conversation with someone who ended up seeing my point, because they took the time to discuss it with me instead of making assumptions about why I was offended.

So, while we haven’t gone back to the Mad Men days of strip clubs for work lunches, we still have people who don’t understand what’s appropriate at workplace events. They’re happy to attack anyone who disagrees with them, especially if you are a woman.

That’s why most women don’t bother speaking up anymore. We’re too tired of speaking up and we don’t have the strength to fight back all the time.

One day my two daughters might want a STEM career. Miss 10 already codes better than I do. By then I hope that stories like this seem implausible, like an urban myth.

The most powerful people that can make that happen are the men in tech.


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