In case you're not familiar with this internet-shaking sh*t-show-in-progress, Adria Richards—a developer evangelist and former employee of a company called SendGrid—was minding her own business in the audience of a seminar at PyCon, a conference for people who work with the Python programming language. Sounds like a pretty mundane scene, at least to an outsider. But then all of the sh*t hit all of the fans.
Richards was distracted, mid-seminar, by a couple of tech bros sitting behind her making some sexual puns about "dongles" and "forking." (She blogged about the full chronology of events here.) Richards did not enjoy the jokes. She especially did not enjoy the disrespect shown to the speaker, who happened to be specifically, at that moment, addressing programs designed to make the tech community more welcoming to women. Meanwhile, in the audience—Richards's photos reveal a sea of men—a couple of dudes felt 100% comfortable cracking the kind of crude jokes that people generally reserve for their home turf. And that's because, to a lot of dudes, tech is a space owned by men.
Then, Richards, as a professional woman who's toiled in a boys'-club field for years (and who had already rolled her eyes through several other similarly uncomfortable encounters at that same conference), lost her patience.
"Jesse was on the main stage with thousands of people sitting in the audience. He was talking about helping the next generation learn to program and how happy PyCon was with the Young Coders workshop (which I volunteered at). He was mentioning that the PyLadies auction had raised $10,000 in a single night and the funds would be used the funds for their initiatives.
I saw a photo on main stage of a little girl who had been in the Young Coders workshop.
I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so."
She snapped a photo of the offending dudes (who, she notes, were expressly violating PyCon's code of conduct) and publicly tweeted it, politely requesting that PyCon administrators enforce their own code. Administrators quickly pulled the offenders from the seminar. It could have all ended right there—essentially a lesson in professional etiquette.
But instead, the internet decided to throw one epic tantrum. First, one of the men pictured in Richards's photographs was fired from his job (his company was one of the sponsors of PyCon). Richards did not call for him to be fired, nor did she celebrate the decision, according to this post. Nonetheless, Richards's company SendGrid—NOT the company that fired the dude—was subject to a DDoS attack courtesy of 4chan (their express purpose was to "ruin her life"). She's also been subjected to the usual avalanche of violent harassment and rape threats that descends upon any woman who dares to criticize male-dominated tech culture (see: Sarkeesian, Anita; also everything else ever).
SendGrid subsequently fired Richards.