I’m a hacker, and I love to build stuff for the Web.

 

Activism

Friday 15th February, 2013

You might come down on either side in the positive discrimination debate, and you may have your own opinion on the paucity of women in the tech community, but one of the aspects of our engineering culture that makes me so proud is that we can (if we want) have rational discussions about the benefits and drawbacks of various approaches, and things largely remain civil.

But then once in a while someone comes along and threatens that peace:

Is there anything more utterly fucking boring than well-meaning commentators tweeting the obligatory “Why are there no women on stage?” at tech conferences?

No matter the significance, newsworthiness or even comic potential of what’s happening on stage, a male tech blogger can always be relied upon to bleat out the same, tired old commentary as if he were a bold social reformer, rather than the bland, craven hack he so often is.

[…]this is the technology industry: there are more men in it because the male mind is, in general, better primed with the sorts of skills the industry values; men are simply better suited to most technology jobs.

Women therefore tend to work in roles that require finesse and communicative skills, where they pop up in this world at all.

These are the words of a man called Milo Yiannopoulos. I could rant for hours about the flaws in his proposition (believe me when I say his rant continues with accelerating grimness), but I won’t. Instead, I want to make a plea to the companies highlighted in his biography:

Milo specialises in privacy, piracy, technology start-ups, internet culture and the media. He was previously Consulting Editor (Technology) for Telegraph.co.uk and a European contributing editor at TechCrunch.

His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Times, the Observer, the Guardian, WIRED, the Spectator, Corriere della Sera, Directors’ Guild of America Quarterly, the 500 Startups blog, Management Today, L’Osservatore Romano and many other publications in Europe and America.

Milo is Chief Feature Writer for The Catholic Herald. He is an advisor to citizen journalism news service Blottr and he also serves as mentor on the 500 Startups and Springboard accelerator programs, where he advises technology start-ups on marketing and public relations.

In 2011 and again in 2012, Milo was named one of the 100 most influential people in Britain’s digital economy by WIRED magazine. He was inducted into Courvoisier’s The Future 500 in 2012 and he has been profiled by the Observer, Forbes and others.

If you own or manage an organization on this list, I’m speaking to you directly. After the dust has settled on this one, there will be two categories of company: those who spoke up and disavowed any connection with Mr. Yiannopoulos, and those who did not. I hope for your sake you have the wisdom to position yourself on the right side of history in this matter.

Incidentally, I checked the 500 Startups mentor list, and couldn’t find a mention of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s name anywhere.

Community

The Internet is the great enabler, and by empowering everyone, it levels the playing field, such that no single individual is inherently stronger or weaker than any other. So if we want to confront threats to our peace like this, and hold them to account, we have to present a united front.

I want all bigots and trolls and uncivil people out there to heed these words: we are more numerous than you, and together we have the ability to shut you out. If you want to work with us or for us ever again, if you want to attend our conferences and talk at our meetups and drink our sponsored beer and write for our journals, you need to play by the rules of civil discussion.

Zack out.