Every day, we read about another woman who has thrown in the towel. A woman who's left her team, or her company, or her industry, fed up with the constant exhaustion of having to continually deal with sexism in the technology industry. And there are doubtlessly many many more who leave silently, without a high-profile exit. How many women (or trans* people, or minority ethnicities, or...) leaving the industry—or worse, never entering it—over this shit are we prepared to tolerate? Even if they don't leave, how many lives are willing to make miserable? How many careers are we willing to stunt through fear, anger, and distress?
I want to make one thing perfectly clear, especially to my fellow white straight cis-males: I'm not OK with this. Not by a very long way. As a manager, I want to make it quite clear that any team under my management will have zero tolerance for sexism, racism and transphobia, in whatever form they come. If I see it, I will call it out. If you want to do it, move elsewhere (ideally out of my company, or even better out of CS altogether). This applies as well for teams, groups, or conferences I participate in, but don't manage: if I see it, I will say it. If it continues, I am done with you and I will do everything in my power to never have to work with you again, at my current or any future company.
I beg all of you to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaqpoeVgr8U
, a video made in the face of (yet another) sexual misbehaviour scandal in the Australian army. It is by far one of the most powerful anti-sexism messages ever spoken. I literally have a calendar reminder set to watch this every few months, because it is so powerful and resonates with me so strongly. It's a refreshing reminder of what a powerful anti-sexism message can look like.
Watch it, and if you take nothing else away from David Morrison's speech, take away this: "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept". It doesn't matter if you're not doing it (making the jokes, performing the microaggressions, belittling the contributions); it matters that you allow it to happen. By allowing it to happen, without stepping in, you are giving it your implicit approval, and letting it take root and grow. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept
For the managers reading this, remember his followup: "That goes for all of us, but especially those who, by their rank, have a leadership role". As managers, some of us have a unique ability and responsibility. Do not let this fester in your team. If it festers in your team, it spreads, and the whole of your team, your company, and your industry all become lesser places for it.
Don't be silent. We, as individuals and as an industry, need to root this rot out
and destroy it
. It will take all of us, and I promise to do what I can.Author's note:
this is an edited version of something I posted internally at Google.