Boys Get to be Hackers for Halloween. Girls Get to be…Hookers?


Update: The dudebros (or bro singular, as the case may be) have posted a Facebook response to the social media uproar over their party. “It can be hard to please the whole world and the different cultures, values and beliefs that exists,” they say, adding that they suspect rival hackerspaces are secretly behind all the negative attention they’re getting.

From the Eventbrite invitation

Another week; another boneheaded attempt at misogynistic humor in the tech community. A startup office in San Francisco is throwing a costume party this weekend. The theme is “Hackers and Hookers,” and the invite promises beer, a food truck, and “girls.” Will the girls be for sale at the food trucks? It’s not clear, and neither is the identity of the dudebros behind this ill-advised mess. They’re associated with something called Hacker Hideout, a startup co-working space in San Francisco, which, judging by the photos on its website, is less appealing than some really sad Craigslist apartment ads I’ve seen. (There’s a shot of a bare mattress on the floor, inviting “thinkers and builders, tech lovers and business moguls” to consider working—or even living!—at the Hideout.)

To be sure, the tech world’s gender and sexism problems are much bigger than this eyeroll-worthy but ultimately laughable affair. But it points to an ongoing concern voiced by some in tech circles that the pervasiveness of alcohol-fueled Silicon Valley meetups and boozy conference after-parties are creating unsafe environments for women in the industry. Especially when they’re tinged with the brogrammer-y “work hard, play hard” frathouse tech culture I’ve written about beforeEarlier this month, a young web designer named Justine Arreche came forward with an account of an alleged sexual assault by her boss at the time, a well-known member of the Ruby programmer community, during a party at the CodeMash developer conference. Her post (which she has since taken down, after receiving rape threats and death threats online) was widely circulated on social media, with several commentors suggesting that the Ruby community writ large might have a drinking problem. 

In her original post, Arreche wrote of the pressure she felt to join in at the party, toss back drinks, even agree to let her coworkers do body shots with her at the center. “I just wanted to prove myself as one of the gang,” she wrote. “Someone who was up for anything. I cannot explain to men how hard it is being a woman trying to play it cool in an industry of men.” It certainly doesn’t help when women are depicted as party favors and window dressing at events like “Hackers and Hookers.” This affair is certainly small potatoes, but it’s part of tech’s big, heaping gender mess.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.