Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo’

sorry It’s amazing how fast news travels in a 2.0 world.  Yahoo officially responded last night for the female dancers at Taiwan’s Hack Day.  Unfortunately, this is after the author of that letter tweeted about how the Hack Girls “perked up the hackers.”   Other news outlets carried the apology as well as further criticism.

What I found the most surprising was the dialogue I found on a thread from Hacker News.  Someone posted Simon Willison’s post, and the comments are an interesting mix.

petewarden (who I’m assuming is a dude) wrote:

“Here’s my practical problem with this:

– We’re missing out on 50% of the people who could be good engineers. Programming is a really effective tool for improving our world, so any waste of talent is a Bad Thing.

– Whatever the moral arguments, accepting go-go dancers at events sucks as a way to attract women into our world.”

Another commenter named seldo noted:

“…from a personal perspective, it makes the assumption that all the male coders in the room are straight, which is in some ways an even more insidious assumption.

You can look at the room and say “okay, sure, there are no women at this event”. You can’t do that with sexuality — but people do anyway.

(I feel I should note that this unfortunate, embarrassing incident aside, Yahoo is an incredibly, almost ridiculously gay-friendly place to work)”

This last comment is a perspective that isn’t pointed out nearly enough.


At the end of the day – and despite the outrage – I consider the Hack Girls kerfuffle a win for women developers, and women’s acceptance in the tech space more broadly.  Why?  Because some men in that space aren’t standing by and condoning it.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve got a lot of ground to cover before we reach any sort of parity in that sphere.  But I find it enormously encouraging that men have publicly started to stand up for women in the tech space, and make it clear that they want more of us there with them.  It’s a clear demonstration that there are feminist hackers out there, and those feminists don’t have a va-jay-jay to stand up for us.

Which is pretty cool.

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I don’t know about you, when I think “Hackers” I think of my friends from school (hey, my nickname is “Nerdette” for crying out loud), or Angelina Jolie in a hockey jersey.  Not strippers.  Aren’t we at a time yet when this bullshit pairing of geeks and hussies is  a thing of the past? Apparently, we aren’t.

I guess if you rub the robot belly, a go-go dancer jumps out.

If you rub the robot's belly, a go-go dancer jumps out.

Last week, Yahoo sponsored an annual event in Taiwan called Hack Day 2009.   So a few things – first, you would think a global enterprise like Yahoo would be a little more discerning in their image, particularly at events they so heavily sponsor.  Second, with a woman CEO named Carol Bartz who’s a breast cancer survivor, what is Corporate HQ’s reaction?  According to this post by Simon Willison and a quick google search, nothing’s been said officially.

What’s even more interesting is that this is not some new PR blunder or an isolated event.  I found someone’s flickr feed from the 2008 Open Hack Day with evidence of women participants here, here and here.  Also, the go-go dancers/ strippers / scantily-clad-women were also there.  But instead of furry boots, they wore hot pants overalls.

So I ask you, what would Carol do?  I hope she and the rest of Yahoo figure out a way to exhibit some corporate leadership and stop allowing ridiculous “entertainment” to be a part of their annual event.  Thinking about the situation reversed, it’s just not pretty.

Please be sure to make your voice heard – a lot of action has happened on twitter, there’s a petition to @yahoo to condemn what happened, and of course there’s the good, old fashioned method of calling their Media Relations office at (408) 349-3300.

Update: Via Twitter, Yahoo tweeted:

“Hack Girls from Y!’s Taiwan event don’t reflect our values. Was inappropriate, we regret offending anyone. We’ll ensure won’t happen again.”

I love the internets.

*Thanks to @womenwhotech for bringing this to my attention.  The pic is a combo from Willison’s post and @womenwhotech’s Twitpic.