Tag Archives: cookie of the week

Cookie of the week: Jake Boxer and Github


We’ve been critical of Github on this blog before. And the problems we talked about before — specifically, sexual harassment and structurelessness — haven’t necessarily been resolved.

Nonetheless, I want to recognize an individual engineer at Github for our occasional “cookie of the week” feature, Jake Boxer.

Harassers who are part of the ongoing Gamergate coordinated harassment campaign created a repository on Github to coordinate their harassment efforts, and when @nexxylove reported this, Jake responded promptly by removing the repository.

I’m giving a little piece of the cookie to Jake’s employer, as well. Jake did not feel that he had to consult their legal team or wait a week for a response, or start a lengthy internal discussion about whether the repository was appropriate. He did not show any fear that if he removed the repository promptly, he would be criticized for supposedly targeting a group to marginalize their free speech. I can infer from this that Github, whatever its flaws (and there are many), is a company that will support an employee acting to stop the abuse of their resources for a purpose that doesn’t further the interests of the company.

Jake recognized that he would be able to do what he did while facing relatively few consequences, and in light of that, chose to use his privileged position for good:

Have a cookie, Jake!

Cookie of the week*: men defending feminist space at PyCon

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

This week’s winners, several men attending this year’s North American PyCon, we know of thanks to a guest post from Lisa Hewus Fresh. Lisa is a Python programmer living the good life in beautiful Portland, Oregon. You can follow her on Twitter @bugZPDX.

feminist hacker lounge at PyCon 2014

Liz Henry’s photo of several visitors to the feminist space at PyCon 2014, licensed CC BY-ND

For context: throughout the conference, open spaces were available for hacking and discussion. Geek feminists of all genders hung out in one of them, a feminist hacker space — a “a great place to go relax, decompress, and hang out with friends” and to “always find other women to hang with”. This year’s North American PyCon also featured 1/3 talks by women, a charity auction to benefit PyLadies, a talk by Naomi Ceder discussing her experiences as she transitioned from male to female while staying involved in the Python community, and a keynote by Python founder Guido van Rossum in which he chose to balance the playing field by only taking questions from women. In general, I believe women and feminism were more consistently visible at PyCon 2014 than at any previous North American PyCon.

Lisa’s story (Warning: contains one quoted ableist slur):

PyCon 2014 in Montréal was a first for me. As a person new to programming, Python, and even Portland, Oregon, I didn’t really know anyone in the community — famous or not. The point is that I didn’t personally know anyone involved in the discussion I am about to recount.

Six or seven of us PyCon attendees were sitting in the lobby of the Hyatt, late one night, discussing a multitude of subjects, such as which text editor is best, how best to name a Git repo, what talks we attended, and so on. I just happened to be the only female in the group and was really enjoying the friendly banter. Someone accurately described it as like being in IRC, but in person.

At some point, a couple of additional men wandered in and came over to our group. One of the men was really angry, and was saying how horrible PyCon was now and how much better it was before. He said that next year he was going to have a “Brospace” right next to the feminist space because “It’s just not right. Women have ruined PyCon!” He then looked at me and said, “No offense.” I’ve been in plenty of misogynistic situations, and as the only female in a group of unknown men I chose to keep my mouth shut and avoid danger.

Everyone else just sat there as well and let him talk a bit more. He went on about how Guido van Rossum, the inventor of Python, “doesn’t give a fuck about anything! Well, he cares about PSF [the Python Software Foundation] but nothing else!” and how unfair he thought these women are making things for men. One of the men in our group said something like, “Well, when you have been excluded from something for years, then you can complain, but you don’t know what that feels like because this environment has always been yours.” The guy responded, “Yeah OK but this is TOO much! Now they just want to take over the whole thing and push us men out!”

He went on to rant about someone who was banned from PyCon for two years. I am not clear on who this is or why they were banned, but the same member of our group firmly said, “Rules are rules. We all know what they are ahead of time and he violated the rules.” The angry man replied, “But he’s done SO much for this community! Yeah, what he did was stupid and wrong, but TWO years?!” The man in our group said, “So? The rules apply to everyone and it’s strictly against the rules so it doesn’t matter if he is a great guy and did a lot for Python and open source.­ That doesn’t give him permission to break the rules.”

The angry guy, who was getting angrier, started talking about a tweet that someone, who was in or near the feminist space, allegedly sent. He claimed that the content of the tweet berated a male who mistakenly entered the feminist space where he didn’t belong. How could this person be so mean to this poor man and exclude him? At this point, another man who had been lounging back on the couch, quietly typing on his laptop yet listening to every word, very calmly said to the angry guy, “Yeah, I guess that wasn’t very nice. But one instance doesn’t really concern me. Imagine if it were hundreds of instances of this type of behavior. This would be a problem and I’d be really concerned.”

I could see the pieces fall into place for the angry man as he realized that he was upset about the very thing that marginalized groups have been upset about for years.

Everyone was silent and then not­so­angry­anymore­man said, “I guess you are right. I’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. I’m going to go to bed before I say anything else that’s stupid.” And he left. Slayed with logic!

I was so incredibly proud of this group of men I didn’t know. My mind was completely blown that the conversation went the way it did. Thank you Honza Kral and Asheesh Laroia for being awesome. I didn’t know you then but I’m sure glad I know you now.

Thank you for the story, Lisa! I’d like to highlight a few things that I especially like about this story:

  • Men speaking up and using their privilege to argue with sexist speech, helping out when a woman chose to protect her own safety by remaining silent
  • The allies stood up for the conference’s code of conduct, late at night while in a hotel lobby technically outside the conference venue
  • So much better than that PyCon thing last year
  • They changed that guy’s mind! It can happen!

So, here’s that cookie:

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly! This offer does not commit Geek Feminism, its bloggers, affiliates, sponsors, commenters or fans to a posting schedule.

Cookie of the Week*: dherman suggests playing the blog post, not the CV

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

When a poster on Hacker News disliked a blog post of Hilary Mason’s and disparaged not only the contents of the post but also criticised her job title and her self-description, dherman replied:

[Disclaimer: I have decades of first-hand knowledge of Hilary's awesomeness, going back to when we were CS students together in college. So yeah, I'm defending my friend.]

I’d like to ask you to think twice before publicly questioning someone’s credentials like this. Whatever your intentions, picking on someone’s CV just because of a blog post you disagree with is not only rude, but it sends a message — particularly to women in tech — that if they speak publicly, if they offer up their opinion, they will be attacked not about the content of their point but about their competence to speak at all. I believe this kind of attack has real consequences on our field, and I would urge everyone to show everyone the respect they’d want for themselves.

(via Tim on Twitter)

Enjoy some Tetris cookies, dherman:

Tetris cookies
Tetris cookies by andremache

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly!

Rectangular plain biscuit with the word 'NICE' baked into it

Cookie of the Week*: Chad Whitacre (whit537) came up with a better name

This is a guest post by Annalee. Annalee is a python programmer and general-purpose geek. She can be found on Twitter as @leeflower and Dreamwidth as annalee.

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

When Chad Whitacre announced on Twitter that he’d just released a new version of Testosterone, “the manly testing interface for Python,” a friend of his called him out, asking “what, exactly, makes it manly?”

After a brief, polite back-and fourth, Whitacre slept on it, and apologized.

Then he announced that he’s renamed his project. Here’s an excerpt:

really do want to encourage women in tech (I have three young daughters), and a project like testosterone does not do that. I remember being surprised to see a woman at PyCon 2011. I don’t have the data, but anecdotally I’m telling you there were LOTS more women at PyCon 2012. Let’s do more of that!

It is now assertEquals, “the epic testing interface for Python.”

If anyone’s wondering how to handle being called out on twitter: this right here is how you handle it.

So here’s your cookie, Mr. Whitacre:

Rectangular plain biscuit with the word 'NICE' baked into it

Image description: a rectangular shortbread cookie with scalloped edges and the word “NICE” stamped into the middle.

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie (by terriko)

Cookie of the week*: the IEEE knows how to apologize

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

This week’s winner is the IEEE, for their excellent apology after an editorial gaffe. Within hours of getting the notice that a dubiously-named article had gone up on the IEEE Spectrum site, subscribers received the following email from editor in chief Susan Hassler:

Please accept our sincere apologies for the headline in today’s Tech Alert: “With the Arduino, Now Even Your Mom Can Program.” The actual title of the article is “The Making of Arduino.”

I’m an IEEE member, and a mom, and the headline was inexcusable, a lazy, sexist cliché that should have never seen the light of day. Today we are instituting an additional headline review process that will apply to all future Tech Alerts so that such insipid and offensive headlines never find their way into your in-box.

Spectrum’s insistence on editorial excellence applies to all its products, including e-mail alerts. Thank you for bringing this error to our attention. If you have any additional comments or recommendations, do not hesitate to contact me or other members of the editorial staff.

Apologies are surprisingly difficult for people to get right. We suggest three properties for a good apology:

  • Recognise that someone was hurt, and in what particular way they were hurt
  • Accept responsibility for it, whether intended or not
  • Promise to avoid doing it again, or at least to work on it

And the IEEE not only did all of these perfectly, they also responded quickly, clearly, and with a defined plan to avoid mistakes in the future. We all make mistakes, but we can aspire to handle them as gracefully as the IEEE has this week.

So, here’s that cookie:

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly! This offer does not commit Geek Feminism, its bloggers, affiliates, sponsors, commenters or fans to a posting schedule.

Cookie of the Week*: mjg59 on LCA Chat

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

A cookie to mjg59 (who is a poster here also) for this response to rape denial on the linux.conf.au 2011 chat list. Here’s an excerpt:

You’re right, you’re not diminishing what rape is. However, you really do seem to be doing your best to. You’ve taken Jacinta’s entirely reasonable demonstration that a significant proportion of the audience may have personal experiences that would leave them disproportionately likely to be made uncomfortable by sexual imagery in a conference environment, and you’ve used it as an opportunity to throw numbers around in order to forward the argument that the number of women raped by strangers in isolated areas is lower than 1 in 6 despite *nobody having raised that subject at all*.

Here’s a cookie!

brett dennen:don't forget
Image description: a star-shaped cookie with a smiling face drawn in icing. Credit: Lali Masriera (visualpanic)

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly! This offer does not commit Geek Feminism, its bloggers, affiliates, sponsors, commenters or fans to a posting schedule. Heaven forbid!

Cookie of the Week*: wingo on LWN

Cookie of the Week* is an occasional series highlighting action in the geek community to fight sexism, in order to show that fighting sexism is possible and happening.

A cookie for wingo on LWN, for this callout:

That was a sexist remark. Not on LWN, please.

wingo further explains:

In the absence of editorial deletions, sexism has to be pointed out or it becomes normal/accepted.

Image of a tray of cookies with cream centres

"cookies!" by ginnerobot on Flickr, used under CC BY-SA

Does anyone else have any cookies to spare this week?

* Disclaimer: cookies may not be baked weekly! This offer does not commit Geek Feminism, its bloggers, affiliates, sponsors, commenters or fans to a posting schedule. Heaven forbid!