There was a train wreck at the 2014 Women in Computing Grace Hopper Celebration (#GHC).


  1. This situation didn't begin with a tweet, but that's where we're going to begin because we all have time constraints and it's a compelling narrative place to begin. This is an editorial decision and you're invited to critique its implications and limitations with me. In addition, please note that all bolding is my emphasis; italicized paragraphs indicate quoting; in-text explanations and excerptions appear in brackets; and items have been clustered topically. The choice to cluster by topic was made to enable readers to focus on issues with more ease, but I am aware that doing this poses a certain amount of risk to context.

    Because of this and because any curation is essentially a collection of many small editorial calls, I strongly encourage you to check the hashtags mentioned in the tweets below, as well as the streams of the people presented here and those who have participated and continue to participate in the hashtags, and the links that appear as items in the Storify and in tweets themselves.

    Please understand this is not a comprehensive summary. If you have links to other tweets, useful posts, articles, etc., I'm happy to add them. By this same token, this means that this Storify will change. No information will be removed (corrections made will be explained in notes or shown in text with strike-throughs), but there will be additions, meaning that stuff may not be in the same place you remember.
  2. Nothing in the Fortune article by GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving hasn't been said by women in the technology space -- said better and at great personal cost. This is a frequent problem: while women develop ideas on the issues affecting them, paying the price of escalating abuse and increasing isolation, men run with these ideas toward profit and bigger and bigger platforms.
  3. Similarly problematic is the spot given to Google's SVP of Knowledge & Research Alan Eustace, on USA Today, which appeared the day after Irving's Fortune article:
  4. As Eustace mentions in this piece, it is risky for women to speak out. But this article doesn't look like someone speaking out in solidarity with women -- where were Eustace and Irving's editorials when women in tech were being driven from their homes in terror weeks ago? Just like Irving's piece, this article looks like someone positioning himself. There is a difference between turning yourself into a human shield and taking the stage. That difference is something any ally would do well to ruminate on. "Ally" is the continuing support of one or more oppressed populations -- it is not a badge for yourself.
  5. And it is certainly not a stage.
  6. Let's talk about that stage. Some time before both of these articles ran, the biggest conference for women in technology, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) announced that they were hosting a panel featuring male allies. The panel would involve the aforementioned Blake Irving and Alan Eustace, as well as Tayloe Stansbury, Intuit SVP and CTO, and Facebook CTO Mike Schropfer. Penny Herscher, FirstRain President and CEO, was set to moderate.
  7. In an opening statement from Wei Lin and Tiffani Williams: "For the first time, we have a male keynote speaker and a male allies plenary panel to share the center stage."
  8. Male Allies Plenary Panel
    Track: General Sessions
    For: All
    Location: North Halls A-D

    In any social change movement, the appropriate partnership between the minority group advocating for change, and the majority group holding power and privilege, is crucial. In pursuing our mission to ensure that women are fully present at the innovation table, the role of male allies in our change efforts is key. In this panel, we will hear from men who have been advocates for women technologists, who have been on the front-lines of culture change in technology-based companies. They will share what they have learned as they have “leaned in” to the challenge of creating workplaces that are fair and equitable.
  9. Many expressed dismay at the choice of panelists. In particular, GoDaddy was seen as a terrible fit for the safe space provided to women by GHC, given their advertising, which frequently reduces women to bodies to be looked at.
  10. By Irving's own admission, only 18 percent of technical roles are filled by women at GoDaddy.
  11. Telle Whitney, CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), which organizes GHC, responded to critics:
  12. But this was not simply a panel that conference attendees could choose to attend -- it was a plenary, a session carved into the schedule to avoid conflict so that everyone attending the conference could be present. GHC didn't simply create a space for self-appointed allies. They unambiguously elevated the voices of these men into a centerpiece -- over the voices of women. Twice. Let us not forget the keynote.
  13. (That keynote, by the way, by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, told women attendees not to ask for a raise, to trust in "karma." He actually used the word "karma." I wish I were kidding. Nadella later apologized on Twitter and in internal memos to Microsoft employees that he made publicly available.)