SendGrid Fires Company Evangelist After Twitter Fracas

Trigger Warning: Rape, Physical Assault

My heart and my support go out to Adria.

Also, my righteous anger.

Here’s the gist of what happened. Adria was at PyCon, a developer conference, and noticed that two men behind her were making lude sexual jokes. She snapped a photo, tweeted it, brought up the behavior to PyCon officials (since they did have a code of conduct for their conference), and the situation was “handled”.

What’s happened after that is a prime example of why women and people of color (and women of color, of course) are few and far between in the world of tech.

One of the men making the jokes, who was there representing his employer, got fired for his actions. Adria’s website starts getting DDoS attacks, as does her employer’s website. People are leaving her nasty comments and she’s been getting death threats and rape threats tweeted to her since yesterday.

Today, SendGrid fired Adria. And they didn’t just fire her, but they announced it on Twitter and on Facebook so people could spread the word and comment on it. The Facebook comments are particularly vile, including one where a man details a particularly gruesome threat against Adria, concluded with the words “Make her pay. Make her obey.”

All of this for speaking up about something which made her uncomfortable.

Now people are already trying to parse this six ways from Sunday saying that she shouldn’t have tweeted or blogged the photo or even mentioned the interaction. Some say she should have just "kept it to herself”.

But how many of these types of interactions go on daily? This is not a unique problem as I’m sure many people of color will gladly tell you.

Microaggressions can build up, and it’s not like Adria intended to get this man fired. She spoke up against something she saw wrong as was dictated in the conference’s code of conduct (which they have now changed since the incident). 

What does this incident say to women of color who want to be involved in technology?

What does this incident say to any woman who want to be involved in technology?