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 Evvnt.com 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.

Update:

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.

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The struggles of Huma Abedin

On the behind-the-scenes story of Hillary Clinton’s closest aide.

In a dreary campaign, it was a moment that shone: Hillary Clinton, on the road to the caucus in Iowa, stopping at a Mexican fast-food restaurant to eat and somehow passing unrecognised. Americans of all political persuasions gleefully speculated over what her order – a chicken burrito bowl with guacamole – revealed about her frame of mind, while supporters gloated that the grainy security-camera footage seemed to show Clinton with her wallet out, paying for her own lunch. Here was not the former first lady, senator and secretary of state, known to people all over the world. This was someone’s unassuming grandmother, getting some food with her colleagues.

It might be unheard of for Clinton to go unrecognised but, for the woman next to her at the till, blending into the background is part of the job. Huma Abedin, often referred to as Clinton’s “shadow” by the US media, is now the vice-chair of her presidential campaign. She was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the state department and has been a personal aide since the late 1990s.

Abedin first met Clinton in 1996 when she was 19 and an intern at the White House, assigned to the first lady’s office. She was born in Michigan in 1976 to an Indian father and a Pakistani mother. When Abedin was two, they moved from the US to Saudi Arabia. She returned when she was 18 to study at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Her father was an Islamic scholar who specialised in interfaith reconciliation – he died when she was 17 – and her mother is a professor of sociology.

While the role of “political body woman” may once have been a kind of modern maid, there to provide a close physical presence and to juggle the luggage and logistics, this is no longer the case. During almost 20 years at Clinton’s side, Abedin has advised her boss on everything from how to set up a fax machine – “Just pick up the phone and hang it up. And leave it hung up” – to policy on the Middle East. When thousands of Clinton’s emails were made public (because she had used a private, rather than a government, server for official communication), we glimpsed just how close they are. In an email from 2009, Clinton tells her aide: “Just knock on the door to the bedroom if it’s closed.”

Abedin shares something else with Clinton, outside of their professional ties. They are both political wives who have weathered their husbands’ scandals. In what felt like a Lewinsky affair for the digital age, in 2011, Abedin’s congressman husband, Anthony Weiner, resigned from office after it emerged that he had shared pictures of his genitals with strangers on social media. A second similar scandal then destroyed his attempt to be elected mayor of New York in 2013. In an ironic twist, it was Bill Clinton who officiated at Abedin’s and Weiner’s wedding in 2010. At the time, Hillary is reported to have said: “I have one daughter. But if I had a second daughter, it would [be] Huma.” Like her boss, Abedin stood by her husband and now Weiner is a house husband, caring for their four-year-old son, Jordan, while his wife is on the road.

Ellie Foreman-Peck

A documentary filmed during Weiner’s abortive mayoral campaign has just been released in the US. Weiner shows Abedin at her husband’s side, curtailing his more chaotic tendencies, always flawless with her red lipstick in place. Speaking to the New York Observer in 2007, three years before their marriage, Weiner said of his future wife: “This notion that Senator Clinton is a cool customer – I mean, I don’t dispute it, but the coolest customer in that whole operation is Huma . . . In fact, I think there’s some dispute as to whether Huma’s actually human.” In the film, watching her preternatural calm under extraordinary pressure, you can see what he means.

In recent months, Abedin’s role has changed. She is still to be found at Clinton’s side – as the burrito photo showed – but she is gradually taking a more visible role in the organisation overall, as they pivot away from the primaries to focus on the national race. She meets with potential donors and endorsers on Clinton’s behalf and sets strategy. When a running mate is chosen, you can be sure that Abedin will have had her say on who it is. There’s a grim symmetry to the way politics looks in the US now: on one side, the Republican candidate Donald Trump is calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country; on the other, the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton relies ever more on her long-time Muslim-American staffer.

Years before Trump, notable Republicans were trying to make unpleasant capital out of Abedin’s background. In 2012, Tea Party supporters alleged that she was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and its attempt to gain access “to top Obama officials”. In her rare interviews, Abedin has spoken of how hurtful these baseless statements were to her family – her mother still lives in Saudi Arabia. Later, the senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke up for her, saying that Abedin represented “what is best about America”.

Whether senior figures in his party would do the same now remains to be seen.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad