Fired SendGrid Developer Evangelist Adria Richards Speaks Out

After what some people may call a wrongful termination, where others feel it was fully justified, Adria Richards finally broke her silence this week.  Last week all hell broke loose when Richards tweeted a photo of two developers making crude  jokes while attending a tech conference.  One of the developers involved was subsequently fired from his job. Richards’ employeer, SendGrid, received a rash of threats as well as DDOS attacks on their website, thus causing them to lose money. Eventually SendGrid decided to terminate Richards because of her “public shaming”.

The situation turned nasty and repulsive.

Richards was on the receiving end of death and rape threats, because people are crazy.

In response to the situation, Richards had this to say:

Those who know me well in the the developer and tech community recognize that I have always tried to conduct myself in a way that builds bridges for everyone. My central aim is to do everything I can to help create new, inclusive inroads for all, no matter who they are, where they come from or what they believe. Development is about innovation, creativity, and in a grand sense, the betterment of human society through technology. So, it stands to reason that everyone should have a seat at the table, and everyone involved in this vital community should feel welcome, safe and respected. In essence, the worldwide community of developers can and should function as a reflection of what our wider society strives to be.

I cannot comment at this time on the specifics of what occurred at PyCon on March 17, and the subsequent events of the following days, but I can offer some general thoughts. I don’t think anyone who was part of what happened at PyCon that day could possibly have imagined how this issue would have exploded into the public consciousness the way it has. I certainly did not, and now that the severest of consequences have manifested, all I wish to do is find the good in what has been one of the most challenging weeks of my life.

And I do believe there is good to be found in this situation. Debate and recrimination can and must give way to dialog that explores the root causes of these issues in the tech industry. As developers and members of the startup community, we can welcome newcomers, women and people of color who, as of now, are under-represented in our ranks. And, all of us can learn a great deal from those who are well-established in the field. We can solidify the values of our workplaces (yes, conference spaces are workplaces!), and set new, positive and inclusive examples for other professional disciplines.

What happened at PyCon has cast a spotlight on a range of deep issues and problems in the developer world. As ugly as this situation has become, all of these issues have reasonable, and, I think, easily reached solutions that will help us cast conflict aside and construct a more cohesive and welcoming professional environment based on respect, trust and open communication. I do not, at this time, wish to concentrate on the fallout of the last several days. Instead, I want to be an integral part of a diverse, core group of individuals that comes together in a spirit of healing and openness to devise answers to the many questions that have arisen in the last week. Together, we can work to make the tech world a better place to work for everyone, and in doing so, we make the wider world a better place for all.

I hope eventually Richards will enter the “and this too shall pass” phase of this “controversy”. I also hope those people who have made death and threats of rape are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Ayana

    My first thought when I read about this story was honestly she brought the firing on herself. In fairness, the whole situation was dumb. I felt bad for the guys who were fired because in reading their version (which matched the picture), she turned around, smiled at them and took the picture. One of the guys who was fired has three kids. The fact that she felt the need to not just post a generic tweet about the comment but, to also post their picture was so immature. Wouldn’t it just have been easier to turn and tell them they were being offensive and then move on with her day? Why the need to publicly shame them? Or why not take the picture and then show it to her boss and tell them what happened so they could address the guys behavior. What the story turned into after that with her being threatened with death and rape was just beyond what needed to happen. The fact that people would make those types of threats for something that at the end of the day is not that serious is beyond my understanding. They are all smart and at the end of the day, they will be fine and find great jobs. But yeah, I don’t feel bad for her for losing her job. She apparently needed a lesson on how to behave in the real world beyond a computer screen. I don’t care what nerdy comment they made; she had no right to take their picture and post it on twitter.

  • aj

    And you Ayana, are part of the problem. The point of the entire article has gone over your head. Bless your heart … smh

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  • Sparafucile

    Adria- have you YET realized that even though you might voluntarily expose yourself widely though your social (media) efforts, you have NO RIGHT to drag others, who are not public figures, into your trench? It sounds to me that you haven’t.

  • Amy

    There are articles on the internet by women who have worked with Adria which completely contradict with Adria’s opinion of herself as a facilitator of safety and openness. The gist of the articles is that Adria has done similar things in the past to garner attention for herself. I don’t know how Adria can attempt to claim that she works for safe environments when she publicly shames people. The facts and her statements are contradictory.

  • drunicusrex

    In Adria’s world, crude jokes are only OK if a woman makes them, otherwise they’re “harassment,” and “diversity” is only diversity if certain types of people are excluded. The first (if made by a man) are of course grounds for termination; the second makes the case for more qualified people not getting hired.

  • BeaGomez

    She might consider just not talking for a while. Maybe a vow of silence?

  • Andrea

    Sexual harassment? That’s a stretch

  • Kevin

    It is so obvious, there is an army, of tech industry types, pushing and spinning their negative views of Ms. Richards, where ever possible. In their over the top efforts/comments to discredit her they are exposing themselves.

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  • Fred Brown (@tonguetiedfred)

    My understanding is that it was one joke…. One joke that wasn’t particularly that crude. I know a lot cruder ones…

  • Ayana

    Actually, nothing went over my head but, thanks for the blessing. My point of view came from having read several articles from different sides. I have worked for many different companies as well as owned my own business and, when you have a problem with someone at work or in a work setting/conference, you either address it directly with the person or you address it with your boss. What you do not do is pretend that there is no problem, take someones picture and post it on twitter. Again though, thanks for the blessing on my heart.

  • Raven Nicole Masterson

    Alright, Ayana, YOU are the problem with MOST FEMALES; WE DON’T SPEAK UP! I am willing to bet ya that your GEEKY arse is most probably a MAN and not a WOMYN (And YES I am using the feminist spelling to convey a message that we WOMYN and GRRLS are not controlled by you via our bodies and we are independent beings unto our own selves). Anyways, IF YOU ARE A WOMYN – YOU are part of the problem for STIGMATIZING HER for speaking up! We live in a rape culture cause people, supposedly “womyn” like you are gender traitors who batter those who speak up, not unlike the ones who hurl vile, vicious, MISOGYNIST insults at other womyn, calling us “whores”, “sluts”, or saying that we are deserving of RAPE via internalized misogyny ie internalized male patriarchal values because of what we wore, how “sexy” we are, for being promiscuous, SLIT SHAMING like what you are kinda doing right here and other things used to “keep us womyn”
    – esp. womyn of color – in line for ages! See, look at all the DEATH THREATS, THREATS OF RAPE? You think they would be saying those things so vile if it were MEN speaking out against an obvious WRONG? Query yourself: why is it OKAY in our male dominated patriarchal society for men to beset us with “sexual violence” in the form, the lowest form I may add, of coarse jokes, which ultimately sets the way for dehumanizing or at least deequalizing femails and thus setting it in a man’s mind that it is okay to bully us cause we are physically weaker and cause we are physically different than them – even though we reared them and brought them up in our WOMBS – something a MAN other than being a sperm donor can NEVER DO!

    This is why I currently do the work I do; the outside world is too WROUGHT with misogyny, paternalistic, patriarchal, whore virgin complex attitudes towards womyn and our bodies, and most importantly (and unfortunately I must add) MALE ENTITLEMENT! It is those words that I know will set off a halestorm. I know this but I DO NOT CARE; WHY? It is because most MEN, especially those bytch punks on here, DO NOT LIKE THEIR MALE ENTITLEMENT AND THEIR ATTITUDE BEING EXPOSED! Especially by a female they consider to be meek and weak WHICH IS WHAT THEY CONS9ODER ALL WOMYN; and when we don’t step in line with their misogynistic thinking, they threaten RAPE and resort to other violent tactics to keep us in line since, after all they consider themselves to be the “big bad men” and because they are physically stronger than us, they act like we can’t and we are not supposed to step up to them as a result!

    When we report shyte like rape, sexual molestation, they do the SAME FREAKING THING; drown out our voices by calling us, the very same vaginas they came out of, “cunts”, “whores”, skanks and whatever god awful word they wanna come up with! What kills me even more so is when they say, “He had kids”, like what he said is NOT A PROBLEM; yet it is OUR FAULT for freaking exposing it! This is the same shyte we hear when we get raped, sexually attacked, sexually harassed; there is no problem when HE talks like that, but we aren’t supposed to expose it! That shyte makes me SICK!!!!

    I am a feminist! I am PROUD to be a feminist! I am proud of my time when I worked in the regular working world (now I spend my days working the sex industry – yes, I know, some folks will perceive that to be oxymoronic, yet you encounter the SAME SHYTE if not WORSE when you are working in the regular working world and to some degree I can actually CONTROL my contact with my clients and they are seemingly more respectful than most of the POS I encountered in my 9 to 5 in the regular working world).the problem with most womyn – and the reason why this shyte THRIVES – is cause of TWO SEPARATE THINGS; IT IS BECAUSE womyn either A) Don’t speak UP or B) DEFEND THESE PUNKS, LIKE THIS RAPE, SEXUAL HARASSER APOLOGIST PUNK (FEMAIL OR MALE?) AYANNNA UP ABOVE IS DOING!!!

    Misogyny comes from BULLYING! Womyn need to start developing their VAGINAS (yes, I say vagina considering the fact we all came out of one and for it to endure 9 excruciating months – well, the womb that is – of having us all the while our VAGINAS – the very same ones these misogynist, rat faced bass-tards call “cunts” – can take more of a beating than any balls can, hence why I say, “Have more vagina”.) and being LOUD AND OPINIONATED AND OUTSPOKEN AGAINST THIS SHYTE! If more of us had VAGINAS and STOOD UP FOR OURSELVES INSTEAD OF BEING PUNKS AND APOLOGISTS FOR THESE BASS-TARDS LIKE AYANNA, WE WOULDN’T BE IN THE PREDICAMENT WE ARE IN and we would get more respect. Misogyny is a form of bullying! Stand up for ourselves as womyn and call these guys on their shyte and the slut shaming, whore virgin complex, rape, rape culture mostly caused by male patriarchal biased culture WILL GO AWAY if we don’t tolerate!

  • Michael Wells

    Can we at least all agree that “Developer Evangelist” is the most bullshit job title in existence.

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