Just as the technology industry’s glass ceiling is being shattered by high-profile executives like Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Silicon Valley is showing signs it’s still a boys club.
Richards received threats of violence and was fired after posting on the Internet an image of male programmers she accused of making inappropriate innuendos at a public conference. The incidents have left fissures across the industry, with critics saying Richards mishandled the offense and defenders saying her dismissal will discourage standing up to misconduct. News of guys audibly cracking sex jokes at an event that actively encouraged female participation also reinforces the image of a male-dominated industry unwelcoming to women engineers.
'The irony is that this conference, of all conferences, attempts to really be inclusive', said Sharon Wienbar, a 22-year veteran of the technology industry and a partner at venture capital firm Scale Venture Partners in Foster City, California. 'In a world where they’re trying to do things the right way, this still comes out'.
Richards had attended PyCon, a programming event in Santa Clara, California, that promotes a 'harassment-free conference experience for everyone' in its code of conduct. Supporters include groups with names like Women Who Code and PyLadies.
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