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Not getting the message

Not so many years ago at a linux.conf.au conference, a presenter – from a large, and successful commercial business – made a shocking arse of himself during a presentation.

You see there was a woman in the front row of the audience, who – though her technical skills and accomplishments far eclipsed those of the presenter – was interested in the topic.

The presenter [to allay some confusion, the presenter was American, not Australian – from California, I believe] singled her out towards the end of the presentation, and openly questioned her ability to understand the topic that he was presenting on the basis of her gender alone.

It was a brief event, but something I wept tears of bitter outrage over. I made a point, as did many of those present at the talk, to take the time to write to the company and tell them exactly what I thought of the misogynistic, juvenile behaviour of the presenter, and how it – to me – reflected directly (and negatively) upon the reputation of the company.

At worst, I was hoping for some sort of wishy-washy, and evasive apology.

Apparently, my expectations were too high. The company didn’t feel that any apology, by the company or the presenter was warranted, and that anyone who was offended (pretty much everyone in attendance that I had the opportunity to talk to) could “get over it”.

A few months later, the same company invited me to one of their soirées, at which – it was hoped – I could deliver a favourable success-story with one of their products that we’d been trialling for about a year.

I sent back the invitation, and the trial product, along with detailed instructions about what to do with them, and where they could stick them when they were done – and why.

And… you know… I still don’t think that they really got the message.

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Categories: AFK Adventures, Opinion.

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