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Women Developer Removed From a Women in Tech Group

Women Developer Removed From a Women in Tech Group

“If a women in tech group is not welcoming to a woman developer, who are they welcome to?”

A women developer I know, with many years of experience, decided that she wanted to give back to the local community. Being that she is a women, she thought a great way to do it was to get more involved in a local women in tech group. So, she signed up for the group and then registered as a volunteer for a upcoming learn to code session for new female/minority developers.

Upon receiving the volunteer confirmation e-mail she reached out to the organizers for guidance on how to prepare. The next day she receives an e-mail saying that she has been removed from the group. Looking at the public event page she also noted that in her place white men were added as volunteers. Given how unexpected this response was, she politely reached out to additional organizers and received no response back, one even blocked her on Twitter.

You might say, WOW, for a women to be removed from a group like this she must have egregiously violated the code of conduct. If she did, she doesn’t know how because nobody will tell her. She regularly attends other (non women only) technical meetups and is a conference speaker and has never had any problems. In fact people at these events and groups really like her.

Unfortunately this is not the only time she has experienced this. On a local public community forum she has experienced multiple instances of of intimidation, bullying and harassment. While she has received the occasional snarky comment from a guy, the main perpetrators are a group of women who are friends with the mostly male moderators. Unfortunately she is afraid to say anything or defend herself due to the very real threat of being banned from the forum.

In due time she will be sharing her story about this publicly. But as someone who knows her well it’s disheartening to hear this and I need to say something. She said to me that for the first time in her career she feels unwelcome in a tech community, and it’s not the men who are doing it, but the women. I had read about this happening in other industries, but in tech it has always been women being harassed and intimidated by men. I’ve heard the sexist comments, needed to report people and even occasionally had to enforce a code of conduct at events I’ve run.

But, if this group is doing this to her, who else have they done this to? More importantly how often is this happening in other communities? If a group with a stated mission to be welcoming towards women and minorities is not, how does someone know which groups are?

At Code Like A Girl these are the types of issues we want to talk about so we can help amplify the message that it isn’t ok to treat women in tech this way.