There are two ways to explain this: You can either believe that the industry is not that sexist, or you can believe that women are not as empowered in tech as they could be.
That’s what I’m here to tell you.
I’m writing this piece not to make you feel better about the fact that women and minorities are still underrepresented in tech, but to challenge your assumptions about how tech is supposed to be.
And yes, this is a story about how women and people of color are treated in the industry, and the problems we’re still facing.
Let me explain.
Women and people from color in tech often feel unwelcome, particularly when they speak up about harassment and abuse.
For instance, in an article from The Atlantic, Jessica Valenti wrote about a time she was approached by a woman who asked for a job offer.
“I had never heard that before,” she wrote.
“A woman had told me that she’d heard of a woman named Anita Hill, and that they’d heard about Hill and her case of sexual harassment.
That was not a bad start.
I had never thought of Hill as anything but a nasty, malicious character.”
She continued: “I felt bad for the woman because she’d just been harassed and had to deal with the consequences.
But she had a point.
The women who are the victims of sexual abuse in this country often feel trapped in a toxic bubble, unable to do anything to stop it.
It’s easy to make sweeping generalizations about all women.
We’ve all been there.”
Valenti also shared an example of a white female developer who was asked to stop working on a game she was working on.
“When I told her I didn’t want to do that game because of Anita Hill and that I’d already told her, I was told, ‘Well, you know, you’re doing a great job, but she’s a bitch.
So you can go do something else.’
She went, ‘Oh, but Anita Hill is the biggest bitch ever, and she’s just a terrible person.’
I said, ‘No, no, no.
I want to work on that.’
It was a very, very, extremely difficult conversation for me to have, and I didn and I won’t be doing that game.
I was devastated by that, but I also didn’t care.
I did my job.
The game was not done.”
That experience with a woman I don’t think many white women in the game industry have had, and which I’ve experienced myself, is a reminder that the system is still stacked against people of colour.
Valenti explained that she was asked, “Are you sure you want to come on this game?” in response to a question about a potential project.
She explained to the person who asked that, “I know you’re a good programmer.
But you’re so white, and you’re working for a big company.”
The person responded, “So you want me to do it?”
Valenti said she had to explain to the developer that she had been hired for a position that she didn’t think was right for her, and would be in a position of power over her if she didn.
The woman was fired, and Valenti was let go.
Another example of this comes from the 2016 Gamergate controversy, when a woman of color wrote a blog post on Medium explaining how she was harassed by an employee of a gaming company, who she felt did not respect her, did not value her, or didn’t appreciate her work.
She wrote, “It’s not a secret I’m often the victim of misogyny in tech.
I can’t get a break from this, or get away from it.
When I write my work, I’m not only doing it in the face of harassment, I also need to put my hands up and say I’m doing it because I want the world to see it.
And in the end, I don.
Sometimes, I have to do the work.
And that’s how I feel when I feel like I’m being ignored or harassed in my career.”
And there are still women in positions of power in tech who experience these kinds of issues, but are still marginalized, because of a system that is stacked against them.
For example, in a tweet, Anita Sarkeesian wrote, “[W]hen the harassment and the misogyny happens, when do the companies take action?”
This question isn’t a new one.
In the years following the GamerGate controversy, many women have come forward to share experiences of harassment and assault they had suffered in the games industry.
One example was game designer Brianna Wu, who was fired from her job at Giant Bomb in 2015 after publishing a game that explored the role that gender stereotypes play in sexist behavior.
Wu was fired for writing about sexism within gaming and was also accused of having a sexual relationship with a game designer.
In response to her firing, Wu and others who had previously been harassed by other people at the studio and