Quoted: on yet another sexism controversy born at a tech conference

“Maven is my girlfriend… looks beautiful, complains a lot, demands my attention, interrupts me when I’m working, doesn’t play well with my other friends.”

slide from a presentation by a developer at a tech conference in Berlin, which compared the developer’s girlfriend to a plugin framework called Maven. After the developer’s presentation was blasted on Twitter, Atlassian, the Australia-based software company for which Jonathan Doklovic works, replied on Twitter that it’s “BS” and “not reflective of our company values.” CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes wrote on the company’s blog: “We are going through all the events that allowed this slide to reach the public. We’ve already started immediate action. Where our organisation and process were lacking, we will add oversight. Where our culture is at fault, we will change that culture.” He said he hired Doklovic, and that “he is as deeply sorry as we are.”

It’s just the latest incident involving sexism and misogyny in the tech industry, and one of the things some say might be avoided if there were more female engineers. One similar high-profile incident that immediately comes to mind was the Twitterstorm over a TechCrunch Disrupt conference last year that among other things included the introduction of Titstare, an app involving staring at women’s breasts. As we wrote in the fall, a Business Insider executive, Pax Dickinson, was fired around that time over tweets that were seen as sexist and misogynistic. And in the spring, a woman tweeted sexual comments she overheard at tech conference PyCon, which resulted in two people getting fired: One of them was one of the guys she tweeted about, an employee at San Francisco-based PlayHaven. And the other was the woman herself. Adria Richards was fired from her job as a “developer evangelist” because “the consequences that resulted from how she reported the conduct put our business in danger,” according to the CEO of Colorado-based SendGrid.

Below is a tweet that includes a photo of the slide referenced above:


At top: Illustration of woman working at a computer by Doug Griwold/Mercury News archives


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