So what happened exactly ? Jezebel put it the best "Woman in Tech Tweets About Sexist Dudes in Tech. Dude Gets Fired. Internet Meltdown Ensues".
The woman was Adria Richards and she was at Pycon. When she heard some offensive talk from the guys behind her, she tweeted (see picture):
Not cool. Jokes about forking repo's in a sexual way and "big" dongles. Right behind me #pycon pic.twitter.com/Hv1bkeOsYP
So far so good. Pycon staff stepped in quickly and "fixed" it and she tweeted after some time:
Thanks! RT @pycon: Thank you @adriarichards for bringing the inappropriate comments to our attention. We've dealt with the situation. #pycon
Soon after, the situation started to unravel. One of the guys in the picture got fired for that comment. He posted an apology:
Hi, I'm the guy who made a comment about big dongles. First of all I'd like to say I'm sorry. I really did not mean to offend anyone and I really do regret the comment and how it made Adria feel.
But he also added that Adria gave him no warning, and smiled while she snapped the picture.
It became worse. When Adria got fired from her job at SendGrid as well, it sent the Internet on a spin. 4chan and Anonymous threats popped up, hate groups started commenting on the matter and rational discourse started to disappear. Women were divided too. While many defended Adria and questioned SendGrid's actions, others like Amanda Blum, another female techie called Adria out.
The whole situation illustrates that there are at least two things going seriously wrong in this day and age:
Firstly, many men and women, but specially women have a problem with conflict. With women, it can be worse as there is more of a pressure to play nice and be a good girl. The natural instincts of a young girl are just fine, but as she grows up, those instincts get dampened by society. If we believe the guy who was fired, Adria was smiling even when she was upset, upset enough to take a picture of the guys and post it. Why do we smile when we are angry ?
I have three cats who never think before they respond to kindness (they roll over!) or perceived threats (they hide when I turn on the vacuum cleaner). It keeps them happy. We have to be alert to what offends us or threatens us and then react to it. It takes courage and mental strength to confront your attacker (or in this case someone who offends you) and express your natural aggression. Although it is hard to do, unless you are physically threatened, it is far better to confront than hide. If you think "but I shouldn't have to", you are right. There are a lot of things that happen in this world that should not happen. We have to fight back against those things and avoid the easy way out, which is to suppress anger, complain to someone in a position of authority, or slide into passive/aggressive behavior.
Secondly, I couldn't agree more that the Internet is a wonderful thing. However it can be horribly alienating. Why talk to someone if you can tweet to them ? If we are not careful, drowning in the Internet will mean losing the ability to form and maintain human relationships.
Many people did not understand why SendGrid fired Adria. Today SendGrid posted a detailed explanation today of why she was fired and here's an extract
Wow. This week has been extremely challenging for all. We want to give you our perspective on this complicated situation, so here goes…
What we do not support was how she reported the conduct. Her decision to tweet the comments and photographs of the people who made the comments crossed the line. Publicly shaming the offenders – and bystanders – was not the appropriate way to handle the situation. Even PyCon has since updated their Code of Conduct due to this situation. Needless to say, a heated public debate ensued. The discourse, productive at times, quickly spiraled into extreme vitriol.
A SendGrid developer evangelist’s responsibility is to build and strengthen our Developer Community across the globe. In light of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at SendGrid.