Writing about sexism in tech conferences is hard. Especially as a young white male. I can only speak anecdotally – but most women in the Tech industry I speak to, talk a bit about moments of subtle sexism or sometimes out-and-out harassment. As a member of the tech community I’m completely behind any promotion of minorities in the industry, and feel that more can be done. It is interesting that most men I speak to in the industry don’t notice any problem.
Two articles spring to mind:
This was written about STEM but I feel the same rules apply to the Tech community (especially since I personally straddle both communities).
It’s “not a big deal” when someone tells you he came to your talk because you’re attractive.It’s “not a big deal” when a coworker comments on your appearance.It’s “not a big deal” when someone makes a “joke” at work demeaning women.It’s “not a big deal” when you are asked in a job interview if you have or are planning to have kids.It’s “not a big deal” that you were warned about what professor to avoid basically as soon as you got to school.It’s “not a big deal” that that same professor was untouchable by the administration because he was too famous.It’s “not a big deal” when someone assumes you are your own secretary on the phone.It’s “not a big deal” when someone calls you “Miss” and your male colleague “Doctor.”It’s “not a big deal” when going to parties at a conference comes with warnings of which of your fellow scientists are dangerous.It’s “not a big deal” when your boss, adviser, or senior colleague asks you out.
When you say, “Women shouldn’t go to DEFCON if they don’t like it,” you are saying that women shouldn’t have all of the opportunities that come with attending DEFCON: jobs, education, networking, book contracts, speaking opportunities – or else should be willing to undergo sexual harassment and assault to get access to them. Is that really what you believe?