Tag: sexism

Tweet of the Day

This tweet is making the rounds:

To all the women sharing stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment, thank you for your bravery to speak up. You are not alone. #MeToo

— Women’s March (@womensmarch) October 15, 2017

This is my favorite response:

— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) October 16, 2017

Many of the responses to Lewinsky’s tweet are respectful and considerate.

There are a fair number, however, are beyond contempt.

My guess is that there is a high correlation with these tweets and, “I’m with her,” bumper stickers.

H/t naked capitalism.

A Well Deserved Repudiation of Cultural Relativism

A court in Ontario sentenced an Iranian immigrant for beating and raping his wife repeatedly for 18 months, well below the recommended sentence, with the justification that he was operating under the cultural norms of Iran.

The appellate court overruled this sentence and gave the offender a 4 year sentence, saying that Canadians need to behave according to Canadian standards:

The woman, a recent immigrant from Iran, suffered brutal spousal abuse but didn’t even realize it was against the law.

After moving to Canada in 2009 her husband forced the woman, whose identity is protected by the court, to have sex with him by hitting her, pulling her hair, pinching her and forcefully removing her clothes. “She cried out quietly so the children would not hear,” court was told.

He also slapped, kicked and punched their two sons and hit them with a belt. Once he locked them outside the house on a snowy winter day wearing nothing but shorts and T-shirts until their mother came home and rescued them.

When the husband was convicted of sexual assault and assault, Justice William Gorewich of Ontario court sentenced him to 18 months, citing mitigating factors that included the lack of a criminal record. The judge also noted a “significant cultural gap” between behaviour that is accepted in Canada and in Iran, and the “cultural impact” of changing countries.

That didn’t cut much muster with the Ontario Court of Appeal, nor should it have.

On appeal by the Crown, Justices Mary Lou Benotto, Alexandra Hoy and David Doherty found the 18-month sentence to be “manifestly unfit”and they imposed a far tougher, and entirely appropriate, four-year sentence.

They also went out of their way to send a powerful, timely message to the lower courts and the public in general that “cultural norms that condone or tolerate conduct contrary to Canadian criminal law” must not be a mitigating factor in sentencing. “Cultural differences do not excuse or mitigate criminal conduct,” the appeals court held.

If that were the case “some women in Canadian society would be afforded less protection than others.” In effect “it would … create a second class of person in our society — those who fall victim to offenders who import such practices.”

I wholeheartedly approve of this ruling.

I don’t care if you come from WifeBeatIstan, there is no excuse for domestic abuse.  Ever.

Meanwhile, Back in Silicon Valley

We now find rampant sexual harassment and discrimination at Tesla Motors, wunderkind Elon Musk’s most high profile project:

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was “be bold for change” in the fight for a “more gender inclusive world” – but some at Tesla had a different plan for the day.

It was an opportunity for women to discover essential oils. A “health and wellness group” at the electric car company invited female staff members to an 8 March “lunch ‘n learn” about oils and how they can help improve people’s “health and happiness”, according to emails seen by the Guardian, which reveal that the proposed event was quickly met with vocal criticism. It was particularly offensive to some given that a week earlier, AJ Vandermeyden, a female engineer, had publicly accused Elon Musk’s company of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Tesla postponed the oils session. The company organized a town hall meeting on diversity for that day, which included six male executives and one woman, according to multiple attendees. At the crowded meeting at the Fremont factory, women took the microphone one-by-one and shared stories of sexual harassment, mistreatment by male managers, unfair promotion decisions and more, sources said.

Vandermeyden, who attended the meeting, thought the outpouring of comments validated her own story. But soon after, Tesla fired her, accusing her of pursuing a “miscarriage of justice” by filing a lawsuit that alleged “pervasive harassment” and pay discrimination. Testimony from the town hall – along with internal emails from Musk, and Vandermeyden’s first interview since her termination – paint a picture of a company that has struggled to respond to mounting complaints about gender discrimination and has aggressively attempted to discredit a woman who publicly criticized it .


Musk also appeared to reference Vandermeyden in a company-wide email sent two days after her termination. In the email – with the subject “Doing the right thing”, sent at 2.29am – Musk lamented the scrutiny that his company faces, saying, “The list of companies that want to kill Tesla is so long, I’ve lost track.”

As as a result, he continued, employees must work harder and faster than competitors, adding they can’t be a “jerk” in the process.

Musk did not name Vandermeyden, but went on to offer what seemed to be a thinly veiled attack on her lawsuit: “If you are part of a less represented group, you don’t get a free pass on being a jerk yourself. We have had a few cases at Tesla where someone in a less represented group was actually given a job or promoted over more qualified highly represented candidates and then decided to sue Tesla for millions of dollars because they felt they weren’t promoted enough. That is obviously not cool.”

(emphasis mine)

What a classic example of a narcissistic self entitled tech bro, and Elon Musk is supposed one of the “good” guys in Silicon Valley, someone who is out to save the world.

If this is their best, there is something seriously rotten in the immediate vicinity of San Jose.

More Tech Bros

In light of allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances, Binary Capital co-founder and managing partner Justin Caldbeck is taking an indefinite leave of absence, he said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

In his apology statement, Caldbeck did not outright admit nor deny the allegations of the female founders who came forward. Instead, he directed his apology “first to those women who I’ve made feel uncomfortable in any way, at any time – but also to the greater tech ecosystem, a community that I have utterly failed.”

As Leslie Miley noted on Twitter, the way Caldbeck kicked off his apology letter with words are how hard the last 24 hours have been on him. That’s because women in tech and in the workplace at larger have been dealing with this type of nonsense since forever.

I don’t mean to minimize the sexual harassment, but I think that this is symptomatic of a more general culture of impunity, and I think that if a prosecutor with a background in white collar crime went to town with some forensic accountants, no small number of these “masters of the universe” would find themselves in jail.

There Are Two People Who Make Donald Trump Look Good, Hillary Clinton, and ………

Mark Zuckerberg:

Facebook is disputing a former employee’s analysis that female engineers have their code rejected 35% more than male engineers, telling employees internally that leaking such information damages its “recruiting brand” and makes it harder for the company to hire women.

The original analysis, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and independently confirmed by the Guardian, was conducted by a longtime Facebook software engineer last year. The engineer studied the company’s code review process, looking at the number of times code was rejected, commented upon, or updated; how long it took for code to be accepted; and demographic data about the coder, such as gender and length of employment.

Female coders received 35% more “rejects” and 8.2% more comments on their code, the engineer found. The engineer also found that the disparity in rejections for male and female coders was “consistent across time at company”.

(emphasis mine)

We don’t care, we don’t have to … we’re Facebook.

“Damages its recruiting brand?” Seriously?

If Facebook thinks that this is the worst part of their being another outpost of “Bro Culture,” is that it damages their brand, then their moral compass is spinning fast enough to power all of Bayonne, New Jersey.

It’s no wonder that another publication described Facebook’s response as, “Incredibly tone-deaf.”

They are Facebook, they don’t care, they don’t have to.

So Not a Surprise

It appears that while teaching law school courses, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch made much over how women “abused” their employers over maternity benefits:

A former law student of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, alleges that in a course she took from Gorsuch at the University of Colorado Law School last year, the judge told his class that employers, specifically law firms, should ask women seeking jobs about their plans for having children and implied that women manipulate companies starting in the interview stage to extract maternity benefits.

The concerns were shared in a letter, posted Sunday evening by the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Women’s Law Center, written by Jennifer Sisk, a 2016 graduate of the University of Colorado Law School. It was sent on Friday to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.


On April 19, 2016, Sisk wrote, Judge Gorsuch used a hypothetical from the prepared material for the class, in which a female law student applies for jobs at law firms because the student has a large debt to pay off. The student also intends to have a family with her husband.

“He interrupted our class discussion to ask students how many of us knew women who used their companies for maternity benefits, who used their companies to — in order to have a baby and then leave right away,” Sisk said.

She recalled that few students raised their hands and Gorsuch became animated. “He said, ‘Come on, guys. All of your hands should be up. Many women do this,'” Sisk said.

Sisk offered overall praise of Gorsuch as a teacher and legal mind, outside of this incident.

Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

This whole Handmaidens Tale thing is a feature, not a bug of conservative jurists.

Democrats will roll over on his nomination anyway.

Silicon Valley in All of Its Glory

We had revelations about a hostile work place at Uber last week, and this week it’s Tesla where the “Brogrammer” culture is alleged:

A female engineer at Tesla has accused Elon Musk’s car company of ignoring her complaints of “pervasive harassment”, paying her a lower salary than men doing the same work, promoting less qualified men over her and retaliating against her for raising concerns.

The allegations of AJ Vandermeyden, who still works at the celebrated electric car manufacturer, paint a picture of a hostile work environment dominated by men where inappropriate sexual behavior is tolerated and women face numerous barriers to advance their careers.

Vandermeyden began at Tesla in 2013 and was eventually promoted to a manufacturing engineering position in the general assembly department, which consisted mostly of men and where she was paid less than male engineers whose work she directly took over, according to her complaint.

I think that we need to reconsider the adulation that we throw Silicon Valley’s way.

There seems to be a surfeit of narcissism in around San Jose that rivals that around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Psychopathic Is as Psychopathic Does

I’m sure that you have heard some of the stories about Uber, such as their simply refusing to pay taxes in the UK, and their relationship with the city of Pittsburgh, where after defending them against state regulators, ignoring the fact that they were pillaging the Carnegie-Mellon robotics lab, and allowing the ride service to roll out robotic cars on city streets, told the “City of Bridges” to pound sand when they requested help competing in the 2016 Smart City Challenge, Uber responded with a list of new demands.

And now, we have the case of Susan Fowler, and employee (full time programmer, not a driver) how documented the toxic and hostile workplace environment for women.

  • Her manager propositioned her on her first day of work.
  • HR said it was the first time that this had happened, and that he would get a stern talking to ……… The kicker is that they said this to her and at least a half dozen other complainants.
  • She transferred to a rather dysfunctional and chaotic division, and then was not allowed to transfer again because her performance review was downgraded because, “Performance problems aren’t always something that has to do with work, but sometimes can be about things outside of work or your personal life.” (Translation, “Women are to be seen, not heard.”)
    • It is then revealed that her performance review was retroactively downgraded because, it prevented her transfer, “It turned out that keeping me on the team made my manager look good, and I overheard him boasting to the rest of the team that even though the rest of the teams were losing their women engineers left and right, he still had some on his team.” (Women in the division went from 25% to 6%[!] while she was there)
  • HR asked if, “I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem.”
  • She was threatened with firing for making complaints by her boss.

Note that she is no slouch, she has written what has been described as the de-facto standard on designing standard microservices, but she still got treated like crap, because treating employees, drivers, and customers like crap is what Uber does.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is a big fan of Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and I’ve said before, “That Ayn Rand Is to Business What Ebola Is to the Exchange of Bodily Fluids.”