BizCraft Episode 17: Special Guest Sarah Parmenter

BizCraft Ep16

Play or Download this Episode (Recorded live on 02/08/2013)

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About the Show

This is BizCraft, the podcast about the business side of web design, recorded live almost every two weeks. Your hosts are Carl Smith (@carlsmith) of nGen Works and Gene Crawford (@genecrawford) of UnmatchedStyle.

Episode Overview

Gene and Carl each spend a few minutes talking about their thoughts on the recent focus on sexism in the industry. Kicked off by Sarah explaining the recent incident she was dealing with, writing the post and her thoughts on the industry reaction.

In large part this episode is a follow up to the 5by5 Crossover show “speaking up”.

Links for reference:
Speaking up by Sarah Parmenter
5by5 Crossover show “speaking up”
Speaking up, it’s time by Leslie Jensen-Inman
Speaking up by Whitney Hess
Also speaking up by Relly Annett-Baker

Questions from the kids:

Anonymous:

What’s the best way to approach an event organizer about unwanted attention?

Matthew Oliphant:

What can conferences do to respond in as near real-time as possible to keep asshattery to a minimum?

In some ways, for more reasons than asshattery, I’d like to see the backchannel shut down during a talk. I’d like attendees to attend. And it’s that backchannel that usually gives voice to those who normally would keep their big, asshat mouths shut in person. It won’t stop all asshats of course, and there should be counter-measures for those in-person asshat moments too.

Code of conduct agreement during the registration process? A pre-warning that if you behave inappropriately, you’re out with no refund? A short note by the conference organizers that, “by your entry upon these premises you agree to not be a dick.”

Anonymous:

For the sexism show…

Question 1: I am a female developer who is active in my local community. When meeting new people (usually men), they often comment on my appearance. How should I respond to this type of attention? I usually try to shift the conversation to more professional topics. I’m afraid this tactic may be too subtle and I would like the other party to know that sexualizing me, especially in a professional setting, makes me (and probably other women) feel uncomfortable. How should I do this?

Question 2: Does the larger tech community (say, in a city) have a responsibility for protecting women involved in tech from stalkerish/creepy behavior from men, and if so, what does that responsibility entail?

I have a situation where a man is stalking me who is involved both in the meetup I co-organize and a meetup that takes place at my workplace. I had some mixed emotions in “outing” him to the larger community because he is so involved, and thus far have chosen to stay quiet and take self-defense precautions. My only idea was to create an anti-harassment policy that the greater community could adopt, but I’m not sure how or if it would be enforced. Any ideas?

Anonymous:

For people who’ve had to deal with being the targets of sexism: how can others help create an atmosphere where you’re comfortable “naming and shaming”? I understand there are (very legitimate) reasons why you might not want to, but are there some situations in which you’d be comfortable doing that? What are those situations?

Wren Lanier:

Experiences like those of Sarah Parmenter and Leslie Jensen-Inmen and Relly Annett-Baker are absolutely horrific — and they’re brave to speak out because it happens more frequently than anyone likes to admit.

But what about the garden variety, veiled kind of sexism that many of us deal with on a daily basis? How do we combat that?

In the past, my opinions about projects have been dismissed because “You’re a designer.” Over and over again, “well, it’s fine that you think that, but you’re a designer.” I often felt that “designer” (or copywriter, or content strategist, or any role that’s not as dominated by men as “developer”) was being used as a convenient replacement for “woman.” But that’s not the sort of thing you can go to HR with or raise a fuss about on the Internet.

Thoughts?

Anonymous:

I’m glad that this is in the spotlight. It is awful and it needs to stop. But isn’t this more a reflection of our society vs our industry? Just want to point out that this should be social conversation and not niche conversation.

“I’m Starting With The Man InThe Mirror, I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways”

Notes & Questions from the chat thread during the show

From @jenseninman: Constructive criticism is well, constructive. What isn’t constructive is criticizing people on looks, gender, age, race…

From @chadcrowell: I think there are lots of males that see a conf as a “getaway”, and that is an excuse for them to drop their sensibilities. aka bachelor party style.

Also from @jenseninman: We set the technical standards on the “World Wide Web.” We can help set the ethical standards for the world, as well.

In Closing

We really hope what a show like this does is help us all create some insights & ideas on how we can sustain an effort to fight sexism, discrimination and bullying. There are also so many independent efforts going on, can we tie them together to create a bigger impact?

We would love to hear your thoughts or ideas in the comments below.

Beers from the end of the show

Sarah: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand
Carl: Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale
Gene: Samuel Adams New Albion

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Author

Gene Crawford

With over a decade of experience in the industry he has overseen the design and architecture of hundreds of web sites and applications. An active member in the design community, he's the editor & producer of unmatchedstyle.com, the ConvergeSE, ConvergeFL, ConvergeRVA and the Breaking Development conference series.

  • Debi Schroeder

    Hi Carl & Gene,

    Thanks for another great podcast. As a woman in the industry it is disheartening to
    see and hear about so many cases of sexism, a.k.a. sexual harassment. No matter
    who or where they come from it only hurts and degrades another. One thing I
    have learned as an employee and as an independent businesswoman is that
    stopping bad habits has to come from the top down. Additionally each person
    must respect those they encounter on a daily basis, friends, family co-workers
    or encounters with others.

    If we want to make changes in the industry, let’s start with our work places. By
    changing our attitudes at work, it will help to change the industry. Those who
    think it is funny to poke fun at others or make them uncomfortable will not be
    tolerated.

    Gene, if you don’t mind a bit of constructive criticism, you need to review posts
    prior to letting them go live. One particular post made me squirm and feel very
    uncomfortable, even if everyone was having fun, I’d be very hesitant about
    working with you all.

    Debi Schroeder

    • UnmatchedStyle

      Hi Debi,

      Thanks for the note here, but what post are you talking about?

      • Debi Schroeder

        The post was nice about getting together for the meet up with co-workers, however certain things that were mentioned went a bit too far. Both my personal work ethic and husband’s company would never allow such an entry to have proceeded or stayed online. In order to nip the problem we do have to take a stance on what should be off limits, especially on the web.

        This is not meant as a snarky reply, just something I hope we all can see and how to fix the problem we are facing industry wide.

        Debi (a Jax-Tally girl)