The Washington Post

Cyber debate continues over Adria Richards’s firing

While the mainstream media has focused on the debate surrounding Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” which challenges women to fight for leadership roles in corporate America, another debate has been raging within the tech world about the treatment of women in that male-dominated field.

Adria Richards was fired last week from her position at Internet startup SendGrid Inc. after exposing what she considered to be sexist behavior by two men sitting behind her at a  conference in California.

Richards’s critics, mostly in comments — some of them vile — in blogs about the controversy, blast her for taking to Twitter to out the offenders, one of whom was fired. Richards’s supporters say the backlash against her, as well as her firing, validate the “boys club” image of Silicon Valley.

Richards has not spoken publicly during the past week, but others have had plenty to say.

The Root’s Helena Andrews decried the rape and death threats that Richards has received. “Her experience was more than appalling to watch unfold online and frustratingly ironic.”

Rachel Sklar, writing for Business Insider, said SendGrid’s decision to fire Richards “seemed like an awfully kneejerk move, a clear attempt at appeasement to the troll armies.”

Jill Filipovic, a columnist for The Guardian, compares Richards’s plight to that of rape victims who are blamed for their attacks. “Of course it’s possible to disagree with Richards’ actions while still focusing on the real problem: misogyny online and in tech spaces.”

Scott Herhold, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, argues that everyone involved overreacted: “The chain of events illustrates the worst features of the Internet — the instant rush to judgment, the ugly personal attacks, the urge to punish a perceived wrongdoer.”

 

 

Vanessa Williams is a staff writer at The Post. Contact her at Vanessa.Williams@washpost.com.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Listen
Play Video
Quoted
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.