Women offered as perks in a job ad

Geek misogyny, take a bow. Then leave.

Today in geek misogyny: women being offered as perks in a job ad.

Event organising start-up is looking for a developer, proficient in the Ruby programming language. They're eager to get a good one, so in an advert posted to the London Ruby user group yesterday, Richard Green, the CEO and founder of the company, offers a list of potential perks. Here it is in full:

Let me know which of the following would tempt you from you desk...

  1. Keg of beer and beer tap fitted to your development desk?
  2. The recruitment fee as your welcome gift?
  3. 4 day week?
  4. Building your own team of 4 from scratch
  5. Shares and equity (so dull)
  6. Commission from online sales.
  7. An endless jar of Cadbury chocolate eclairs...
  8. 4X female french, italian and spanish junior / front and backend developers
  9. Your own Expresso [sic] coffee machine with frothy milk maker...
  10. 30 days paid holiday if taken in December and August.

Notice which of those things is not like the others? That's right, number eight appears to be placing female employees on roughly the same level a jar of chocolate eclairs.

Later last night, Green responded to some of the criticism already building up on the mailing list by agreeing with one user that what he had actually meant was "We are an equal opportunities employer and our team contains people from a variety of countries, backgrounds and genders." He tells a different user that "We simply welcome female developers and indeed developers from all nationalities. Mostly to date the developer world does feel very male."

I'll leave it up to you to decide whether Green was tragically misunderstood, or executing a hasty reverse-ferret. But either way, it's not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Last year, almost exactly the same thing happened when a hack-a-thon in Boston was advertised with "great perks" including "massages", "Gym Access" and "Women". That time, there was no backing out, since it goes on to read: "Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you." The company involved eventually apologised.

When women in tech aren't being advertised as perks, they're being told that they probably won't get the job (one ad for a CTO read "this will almost certainly be a man (a female CTO would be too much to wish for)."), getting fired for complaining about sexist jokes, or just having to deal with stuff like this. Hell, there's a whole blog devoted to programmers being dicks. Tech needs to shape up, because this is too embarrassing to continue.


As well as the comment below, describing the ad as a "Social Experiment… to see what actually creates viral news", Evvnt has posted an apology on its website. It's lengthy, so I won't quote it in full, but here's the operative bit:


To be judge and jury or to offer council – I learn today that offering council wins. I also would like to offer my Humble apologies when we get it wrong, today I got it wrong. [Emphasis original]
Finding the right tone in ‘text’ is never easy, even harder when your have no relationship with your audience… today we start.

Thanks to Charlie for the tip.

Then there was the time a Ruby conference decided to cancel rather than invite some non-white non-dudes.

The best stock photo we could find of a woman with a computer. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
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Bomb Isil? That's exactly what they want

The government appears not to answer the nature of its enemy, warns Maria Norris.

As MPs are set to vote on further airstrikes in Syria, it is difficult to shake off the feeling that the government does not fully appreciate the complexity of the problem Isil poses. Just a cursory glance at its magazine, the pronouncements of its leaders and its ideology reveals that Isil is desperate for Western bombs to fall out of the sky. As Martin Chulov argues, Isil is fighting a war it believes was preordained since the early days of Islam. Isil’s obsession with the city of Dabiq, in Northern Syria, stems from a hadith which prophesises that the ‘Crusader’ army will land in the city as a precursor to a final battle where Islam will emerge victorious. Dabiq is also the name of its magazine, which starts every issue with the same quote: "The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify -- by Allah's permission -- until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq". Isil wants a war with the West. If we don’t negotiate with terrorists, then we also should not give them what they want.

Further, bombs are indiscriminate and will inevitably lead to the suffering of those trapped in Isil territories. Isil is counting on this suffering to swell their ranks. Civilian suffering from airstrikes only underline the narrative that the West is at war with Islam, which plays directly into Isil’s hands. And despite misleading headlines and the genuine government concern with individuals fleeing to Syria, Isis is supremely unpopular. It is no wonder that its magazine is filled with glossy adds begging people to move to its territories.  You cannot be a state without people. Terrorist attacks such as Paris thus have a two-pronged purpose: they provoke the West to respond with its military, and they act as a recruitment drive. The fact that fake Syrian passports were found around the sites of the Paris attacks is no coincidence as Isil are both seeking to stem the flow of refugees from its territories and hoping to provoke an Islamophobic backlash. They hope that, as more Muslims feel alienated in the West, more will join them, not just as fighters, but as the doctors, nurses and teachers it desperately needs.

In addition to this, airstrikes overlook the fact that Isil is a result of what Fawaz Gerges calls a severe, organic institutional crisis in the Middle East. In a lecture at the London School of Economics earlier this year, Gerges pointed out the dysfunction created when a region that is incredibly resource rich also is also deeply undemocratic, riddled with corruption, food insecurity, unemployment and poverty. This forms an institutional vacuum that is filled by non-state actors as the population does not trust its political structures. Further, the civil war in Syria is also the site of the toxic soup of Middle Eastern state dysfunction. Iran supports Assad, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, fund anti-Shia groups in Syria. Throw in the Kurdish conflict, Turkey’s ambiguous position and Russian bombs, it is difficult to see how airstrikes will solve anything.

Finally, it is crucial that Isil is seen as a direct result of the Iraq war. The American-led invasion destroyed the institutions, giving the Shia majority power almost overnight, creating deep dissatisfaction in the Sunni regions of Iraq. On top of this thousands of foreign fighters flooded Iraq to fight the invaders, attracting disenfranchised and angry Sunnis. The result is that since 2003, Iraq has been embroiled in a sectarian civil war.  It is in civil war, inherently connected to the Iraq War, that you find the roots of Isil. As even the Prime Minister concedes that ground troops are necessary, albeit it regional ground troops with its own set of problems, it is important to consider what further monster can arise from the ashes of another ill-thought out military intervention in the Middle East.
We have had decades of military intervention in the Middle East with disastrous consequences. Airstrikes represent business as usual, when what we actually need is a radically new approach. Who is funding Isil? Who is buying its oil? How to curb Isil’s recruitment drives? What can be done about the refugees? How to end the conflict in Syria? What happens to Assad? These are questions hopefully being addressed in talks recently held in Vienna with Russian, Ira, the USA, France, Syria’s neighbours and the Gulf states. Airstrikes do not answer any of these questions. What airstrikes do is give Isil exactly what it is asking for. Surely this is reason enough not to bomb Syria. 

Maria W. Norris is a PhD candidate and a teacher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her PhD is on the UK counter-terrorism strategy since 9/11 and its relationship with identity. She tweets as @MariaWNorris.