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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Mister Lizard is not at home to bailiffs – he is eating salmon pâté by the river

Why is it that when people answer the question “What’s the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?” in the Guardian questionnaire they never say, “You’ve been served”?

Summer’s nearly over. I look at the angle of the sunlight as it strikes the back terrace of the Hovel. I have been here long enough to use the terrace as a gnomon marking the passage of the year. I need, like the protagonists of Withnail and I, to go to the countryside to rejuvenate.

Last week when the Perseids were meant to be in full flow I asked frantically on a social medium for people to chum me along on a midnight walk on Hampstead Heath. In the end my new friends A— and her husband, C—, together with his new friend (whose initial I have forgotten, but he is Australian, if that helps), stepped up to the plate and after a couple at the Flask we went on a wide-ranging tour, which was a bust as far as seeing meteors – or my favourite tree – went, but was still hugely enjoyable. At about 2 am they packed me into an Uber and I went home happy, but I still felt as if I could do with more countryside.

The next few days made me even more anxious to get out of London. There are ominous signs that some serious roadworks are going to be taking place outside my bedroom window any day now. A bailiff came and rang the doorbell and I didn’t have the heart, or the nerve, to say that Nicholas Lezard was not at home at the moment and, is, in fact, on a walking tour of Patagonia now I come to think of it, due back some time next year. I just took the piece of paper into my hands as if it were a chicken come home to roost.

The previous day, presumably the same bailiff had come round and asked if Mr Lizard was in, and my housemate gallantly – and quite truthfully – said “no”. (Why is it that when people answer the question “What’s the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?” in the Guardian questionnaire they never say, “You’ve been served”? Maybe it’s because they haven’t ever been.) In addition, as I said last week, the cleaning lady is on holiday and the Hovel is starting to look distinctly seedy.

So, then I get a call from a person who once featured quite prominently in this column, some time ago. This person is bored and wants me to go to his or her town and alleviate his or her boredom. This person and I parted company in circumstances that were far from ideal some time ago, and only recently have diplomatic relations been resumed.

It is too late, I say, for me to get on the train now; but when I have reviewed the book I am meant to be reviewing, I will hop on the train tomorrow around noon. And so I do, despite some monkey business from the departures board at King’s Cross, which tells passengers the 12:44 has been cancelled, then hasn’t been, then has, then hasn’t after all, while the 12:14 has slipped away like a thief in the night without telling anyone it was doing so.

I wonder if my return to the town of ——— is wise. As a dog returneth to its vomit, so doth a fool return to his folly. And the burnt hand fears the fire. Look, I say to myself, all we’re doing is going to have a picnic by the river. As we buy our supplies, the stallholder at the market asks if I am my companion’s husband. “No, he’s my picnic buddy,” he or she replies. “Never heard it called that before,” says the stallholder.

And the day passes perfectly pleasantly. We have two bottles of wine, cheese and smoked salmon pâté with crusty bread. People in punts drift past us, with varying degrees of competence. I remember it is A-level results day and call the eldest boy to ask how he’s done. He’s done well enough, it turns out, to get a place at university, though he feels obliged to point out that his results came in exactly a year ago. This is the kind of thing that happens when the number of children you have exceeds your mental bandwidth.

Later on, a porter from the college behind which we are picnicking asks me if I am a member, or an alumni. “Alumnus,” I correct him gently, hoping that this should establish my credentials. He asks for my name, and he radios the porters’ lodge to check my veracity. For some reason it takes him several goes to get my name right.

One of these goes is “Lizard”. We offer him some cheese, but he refuses, on the grounds that he has just had a banana and a cup of tea. I could live in a guest room here, I reflect, at not much higher rent than one pays in London. And the beauty of it is that the police, and presumably bailiffs, have to ask permission to go through the gates. 

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser