Women in tech harass and defame a woman in tech; reason: wrong politics

I’ve heard from some women in science that their toughest opposition, sometimes verging on harassment, comes from other women in science. I wouldn’t know, as I don’t have that lived experience. But here’s a related story, on Medium, from Marlene Jaeckel, and certainly has a provocative title (click on screenshot to read):

You can read it yourself; it is a distressing tale.

Jaeckel starts off with her bona fides:

I am a senior software engineer and the co-founder of Polyglot Programming, an Atlanta-based software engineering consultancy. For years, my business partner and I have been active in the technology industry, both in our local community and beyond. We’ve organized meetups and conferences, volunteered our time to mentor developers, including children, women, and people from underrepresented minority groups, and we’ve sponsored other groups that do the same.

Her problem with other women-in-tech groups, she says, stems from the fact that she’s politically conservative, that she once refused to teach a woman-only computer classes, and that she defended James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired for suggesting that underrepresentation of women in computer firms might partly reflect differential interests rather than 100% sexism. But Jaeckel also has a long history, it seems, of fostering women in computer science, teaching and mentoring women, and so on.

That didn’t count when weighed against her ideological impurities. By her account, women and some men shut her out of one event and group after another, including those sponsored by Google (e.g., the Google Developer Group and Google Women Techmakers)—and for no discernible reason other than her politics and defense of Damore were unpalatable. She got a lawyer, sent a “cease and desist” letter to the people who, she said, “deplatformed” and defamed her: Women Who Code, Alicia Carr, Maggie Kane, and Google. No response.

So now she’s suing them for defamation, and if she’s right, she has suffered career and financial damages. As Jaeckel reports:

I want Alicia, Maggie, Women Who Code, and Google Women Techmakers to know that it’s okay to respectfully disagree with others. It’s also perfectly okay for privately-held groups to remove certain members from their organizations. It is, however, not okay to spread defamatory and malicious lies about people, and it’s never okay to falsely accuse someone of committing a crime. In short, I want the truth revealed, because, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “truth is generally the best vindication of slander.”

When rational and mature people feel upset about something, they often get angry, but only toxic and vindictive people use lies, false accusations, and exaggerations to destroy someone else’s credibility. From their actions, it’s clear that Alicia, Maggie, Women Who Code, and Google don’t believe that people should have the right to freely express ideological dissent, and therefore they set out to punish me for my views, without regard for my rights or for consequences. To them, I was guilty of a terrible moral offense, so they wanted everyone else to be “careful” of me and stand up against my “harmful” thoughts.

It’s a shame that Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers put on such a good face by feigning kindness and respect for all women in tech. They’ve carefully crafted a wholesome image of being welcoming to all women and supportive of the needs of anyone in the tech industry who identifies as female.

Unfortunately, this is not true. To me, it seems obvious that Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers don’t really care about all women and, frankly, they don’t seem to care that much about tech either. Instead, they focus on divisive identity politics, and they expect their members to remain submissive inside the echo chamber if they wish to be accepted.

. . . What they did was abusive, unreasonable, and unacceptable, and it’s time to hold them accountable for their actions.

They say there are two sides to every story, but that’s not always true. The truth will come out if there is either a settlement or a court verdict, and if it’s as Jaeckel describes, it’s not pretty. It’s certainly not beyond belief that this could have happened; after all, feminists barred Jewish women from Chicago’s Dyke Parade, and Western women regularly ignore the horrible oppression many women endure in Muslim countries. Stay tuned.

h/t: Grania

19 Comments

  1. Paul S
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    It’s not harassment, she’s obviously a nazi and deserves to be punched as well.
    /sarcasm

  2. Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious as to how this plays out. Unfortunately, ideological harassment is a real thing. But I’ve also seen those cases where someone pushes the boundaries too hard and then complains about pushback when it inevitably comes.

    Example: Christian preaching at work, is asked to stop. Leaves tracts on people’s desks, invites people to church & related events. Is asked to stop. Suddenly complains he’s being discriminated against. (At my current job, this would never happen; they talk about Jebus all the time.)

    • Taz
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      If that’s the situation here they ought to be able to produce some evidence. If true, Marlene Jaeckel’s account is frightening because several people had no problem condemning this woman on a couple of people’s say-so, with no evidence required.

      • Posted December 4, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, Taz (that the tendency is frightening). I ought to be used to it by now, because it’s happened throughout history, but it still sticks in my craw when someone — even someone I disagree with — is brought down by hearsay and hyperbole.

    • eric
      Posted December 4, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      From reading the article, it appears the defamation suit is related to specific charges that she (1) doxxed members of the Women Who Code group, (2) also harassed some of them by calling their employers to try and get them fired, and (3) stalked another person.

      Those charges should at least be amenable to empirical evidence one way or the other (i.e. show the messages where she gave out addresses. Ask the employer if she called them. Show the stalking emails/texts/whatever). So I don’t think this suit will just come down to a question of whether her political speech was reasonable discussion vs. ‘pushing it’ – the accusations and conduct claimed are more serious than that.

      Now it’s entirely possible that some or all of these groups ultimately decided to ban her for her political positions and/or speech. That would be a shame, but probably legal. However if they banned her because her accusers made false accusations of stalking and harassment against her, then I think she, and those groups, deserve to learn that. And if the accusations are true, well the organizations deserve to learn that too.

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      In every workplace I’ve been in (I work in the IT industry in the UK), there has always been a sort of unwritten rule: never talk about religion or politics. It just causes trouble between people who need to be able to work together.

  3. Craw
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    The cant about “safe” again.

    I find her story completely credible. (I am in IT) Unfortunately I doubt she will get redress unless she can get into a real courtroom with a real judge. It’s like the campus kangaroo courts. The real courts shred them, but no agency or action just on campus ever makes a dent.

    The TA at WLU has now been retaliated against by the school for example. She said she probably needs to leave.

  4. KD
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    There are men who can code.

    Women who can code.

    Then there are the women who can’t code: the SJW’s in HR who lash out against anyone who is competent.

    What could be less inclusive than competence? Social justice is idiocracy propped up by totalitarian enforcers.

  5. Mike Anderson
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    That’s why I don’t hire women – too much catfighting, not enough programming.

    (/sarc)

  6. yazikus
    Posted December 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I know enough closet liberals in the business world (in small town- rural & red US) to believe that this is possible. Folks with the wrong politics in the wrong area often face professional repercussions. I’ll have to go read the whole thing to see what she means by being ‘deplatformed’ (did she want to speak and wasn’t invited? was she uninvited?).

  7. Posted December 4, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s simply unknown (to us) how much is true, and if this is the whole story. However, it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time whenever the merry intersectionalists are involved.

    What’s missing still is mainstream media connecting the dots: namely that this ideology is creeping forwards, invisible and barely named, but when it meets disagreement, it always causes extreme altercations. It’s never merely disagreement, or mere name-calling, or even a mere internet flamewar: each time, the signature is extreme smear, ostracism (block & ban), character assassination. Micro- disagreement always ends with racist! Misogynist! Literally rape! — if you are lucky.

  8. jay
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    The church presecuted heretics so vehemently simply BECAUSE they could not prove the heretics wrong. Indeed sometimes the heretics made sense, and that was completely unacceptable.

    There is a strong element of dogma running through liberalism today, similar to a number of fundamentalist religions. Contrary evidence (of which there is much in some subjects) is ignored or condemned, the condemnation often strongest for the deviations that are most obvious to the normal person. Believing against common sense is almost a badge of honor.

    • Paul
      Posted December 5, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Maybe there is something deeply ingrained in our psychology that makes us vulnerable to this. I it’s been happening for thousands of years. Look at the witch hunts. It was probably useful when we were hunter gathers…

      • Craw
        Posted December 5, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        It is “social proof” run rampant.

      • KD
        Posted December 5, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Ever heard of the “Will to Power”?

        Lies backed by coercion are the best way to conduct a purge and consolidate political power in your faction.

        Lies are important, because a liar demonstrates personal loyalty over any kind of integrity or moral code. The liars are also open to black mail subsequently, if they get ideas of their own.

  9. Richard Sanderson
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    This is the familiar pattern. I am very suspicious of people who claim to be the arbiters of “safe spaces” and the power and authority to decide who is granted those “safe spaces”. I am also very wary of those “feminists” who always bang on about how THEY are trying to “anti-harassment environments” and “anti-bullying/anti-racist” schemes. More often than not, they are regressive bullies, who pro-actively bully and harass people, esp. women, who disagree with them slightly.

    We saw this happen with Pharyngula (PZ Myers)/Orbit (Svan), which was controlled and populated with odious pieces of ****, who spoke the language of virtuous social justice devotees, with their intersectional rhetoric, but made it clear they could, and would destroy people by intimidating them, harassing their employer, family, or venue hosting them, etc. if they were deemed “the other”. Anita Sarkesian, Briana Wu, Steve Shives all play this game. They are bullies, yet they claim to be the victims.

    Oh, and don’t forget the little problem of antisemitism and pro-violence, which these dolts promote.

    • BJ
      Posted December 5, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      That about sums it up. It’s also important to mention the role that many internet media outlets play in all of this. HuffPo, Buzzfeed, and others have been doing the dirty work for such people for several years now, posting “articles” that contain one or several tweets from an “enemy” to shame them or craft a narrative about them, often at the (usually indirect) behest of “activists.”

    • Taz
      Posted December 5, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      There’s a term for it – “crybullies”.

  10. nicky
    Posted December 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I think Ms Jaeckel’s account sounds highly credible, and it is unconscionable she’s made into a Ms Hyde by the ‘women in tech’, those who should be supporting her.
    I think the “..it became clear to me that this event focused on marketing strategies, creativity, and the discussion of gender politics, and not on the development of technical skills” says it all.


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  1. […] groups dedicated to advancing the careers of women in technology. At least one woman — Marlene Jaeckel, the cofounder of Polyglot Programming — claims these groups have a strong partisan bias and […]

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