The TechCrunch Scandal (featuring the embarrassing TitStare and CircleShake apps) was a big deal this week as it "outted" the ugly sexism and locker room atmosphere of the high tech community, but it's never the big stuff that really makes high tech a terrible place to work for women. It's something far more insidious that never gets called out.
It's the little stuff. It's the quiet, hostile, uncomfortable moments which women endure in all tech companies, on an ongoing basis that are difficult to pinpoint and then call out as unacceptable. There are hundreds of daily put-downs, dismissive shrugs, disrespectful responses from men you get so used to, you actually stop noticing them. There's always an accepted atmosphere of women not being taken seriously, often being interrupted in meetings, or likely as not, not being even invited to meetings, parties, lunches, trips where men are free to share plans, future scenarios and job leads.
The tolerance for intolerance is suffocating. How ironic that something called CircleShake was there to conveniently remind everyone that tech culture is one big male circle jerk? There are so many little cultural misdeeds committed against women on a regular basis, you stop noticing and just get tired of the whole thing. For one thing, the culture of high tech accepts developers and entrepreneurs coming in late and staying late which is another disconnect between men and women. If you are a woman with responsibilities at home, as many women are, being able to hang out late with your fellow geeks to learn new things is not an option. But many of these guys are also parents -- why aren't they home? Men are the ones who can change this by pointing it out to good managers and insisting on changes.