Susan J. Fowler’s blog post (you can read it here) has been circulating around my social media networks. One of my non-tech friends asked me about its legitimacy, to which I responded, “I am sadly not surprised.”
While I’m happy that this blog post is going viral and encouraging people to discuss how it can “change the way of the tech world,” stuff like this has happened before and the overall environment hasn’t changed much. I hate to sound pessimistic about this, especially since fighting this bullshit (my language is warranted here because that’s exactly what it is) is one of the few things I’m extremely passionate about. However, I am terrified that not a lot will happen. The people who didn’t believe her post in the first place will read what the company posted in response and continue to assume she overreacted. That’s how ignorance works.
That said, even if just a few people read this and say “huh, something’s not right with this,” that’s amazing and I hope that it will. But it will take more than one blog post to change Silicon Valley. I know this because there are already many, many similar blog posts already.
The optimist in me (which admittedly is a very small part of myself) is, however, excited that this post seems to be circulating a lot so hey, who knows? Please continue to share and be a good example for your students. I firmly believe that one of the best ways to combat the gender gap in tech is to stop it at the very beginning and show the next generation of computer scientists that incidents like these are not right. It is in everyone’s best interest that educators create an inclusive learning environment so that anyone who wants to study the subject feels like they can.
Ms. Fowler, as someone who has dealt with similar bullshit and knows how much it affects you as a person, I am so sorry this happened, and I thank you for sharing your experience.