Techie fired after complaining on Twitter about sexual jokes

Developer Adria Richards was fired from her job after tweeting about sexual comments at a technology conference.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A female technology developer has been fired after tweeting about a group of men she said were making sexual comments at the PyCon US 2013 developer conference in California.

Adria Richards wrote on her blog, butyoureagirl.com, that she was seated in a ballroom at the conference in Santa Clara on Sunday when the men behind her started talking about "big dongles."

A dongle is a device that plugs into a computer, but Richards said the men made the comment in a sexual way.

She turned around, took a photo of the men and posted it on Twitter with their alleged comments.

"Not cool. Jokes about forking repo's in a sexual way and "big" dongles. Right behind me #pycon," Richards tweeted.

Adria Richards' tweet at PyCon. IMAGETwitter screen shot

The men, who worked for a company called PlayHaven, were later escorted from the room by conference staff, as Richards explained on her blog:

"A few minutes later, one of the PyCon staff member approached to the left. I stood up, went outside to talk with him and explain the situation with a few of the other PyCon staff. They had seen my tweet. After explaining, they wanted to pull the people in question from the main ballroom. I walked back in with the PyCon staff and point them out one by one and they were escorted to the hallway.

"As I walked back to my seat, I cannot tell you how proud I was of the PyCon and Python community at the very moment for keeping their word to make the conference a safe place to be. A bit shaken, I took my seat to continue watching the lightning talks. I sent an updated tweet that the situation was being dealt with and later on, PyCon tweeted they had addressed the issue."

PlayHaven confirmed on their website that one of their employees had been fired for making the inappropriate comments at PyCon.

"PlayHaven had an employee who was identified as making inappropriate comments at PyCon, and as a company that is dedicated to gender equality and values honorable behavior, we conducted a thorough investigation," its statement said. "The result of this investigation led to the unfortunate outcome of having to let this employee go. We value and protect the privacy of our employees, both past and present, and we will not comment on all the factors that contributed to our parting ways."

Richards, reached Friday by The Associated Press, said she couldn't comment. But she confirmed through her blog, tweets and reports that she's been fired by her company SendGrid.

SendGrid also announced Thursday that Richards had been terminated, Buzzfeed reported.

The Twitterverse is reacting to the incident by tweeting under the hashtag #Donglegate, with some rooting for Richards and others saying that her actions hadn't helped women in technology in any way.

SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin explained why the company fired Richards in a blog post.

"To be clear, SendGrid supports the right to report inappropriate behavior, whenever and wherever it occurs," Franklin wrote. "What we do not support was how (Richards) 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. ... 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."

Venture Beat reported that Internet activists were attacking SendGrid by targeting its servers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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