GitHub's Long National Nightmare is Over

   22 April 2014, early morning

Github concluded its investigation into their recent sexual harassment scandal, posting a terse message on their blog about the matter:

The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife of sexual or gender-based harassment or retaliation, or of a sexist or hostile work environment. However, while there may have been no legal wrongdoing, the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment. In light of these findings, Tom has submitted his resignation, which the company has accepted.

The whole blog post sounds like it was written by a lawyer. Maybe it was. Do I feel retroactively like a chump for watching presentations on How GitHub Works? Maybe a little bit. I should be telling people about where I work—it’s actually amazing.

Tom Preston-Werner wrote about his plans for the future, beginning by touching on this story:

I want to be very clear about one thing: neither my wife, Theresa, nor I have ever engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination. The results of GitHub’s independent investigation unequivocally confirm this and we are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law.

Don’t worry about Tom: he’ll be fine. Mr. Netscape himself Marc Andreessen high-fived him on his way out the door. This is usually how it goes in tech. Tom gets to play the startup game again. Some people think he’s a jerk, some people don’t. None of that has any substantial effect on his livelihood. For a certain class of people your actions are more or less consequence free.

Today GitHub denies any wrongdoing and the co-founder makes explicit legal threats against anyone speaking up about what he did. – @shanley

Shanley’s tweet sums up the situation for other women in similar situations to Julie Ann Horvath. What’s the point of coming forward? People call you a bitch (or worst) and you are the person looking for new work. Ellen Chisa articulates all of this wonderfully. (If you read one thing about this whole story, her blog post would be it.)

This is a complicated story, with all sorts of nuance that’s missing when its distilled via ambiguous blog posts and messages on twitter. These scandals end up being Rorshach tests for how people see sexism and this industry. I am left feeling cynical about the whole scene.

 

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