Julie Ann Horvath, an influential engineer at GitHub who has been vocal about the company’s increasingly positive culture for women, has left the open-source code platform and is alleging on Twitter that there was gender-based “harassment” targeted at her there.

You can see several of her tweets here that began last night:

Horvath, who joined San Francisco-based GitHub in 2012, also founded its laudable Passion Projects series of women in tech talks to “surface and celebrate the work of incredible women in our industry, as well as produce more female role models within the tech community.”

Nonetheless, GitHub has been embroiled in a series of diversity controversies, such as programmers adding racial and sexist slurs into their code. But with Passion Projects and hires like Horvath, GitHub CEO Tom Preston-Werner said he was trying to change that culture.

The talks encouraged more women to join the company, and he said a quarter of the 60 new hires after launching Passion Projects were women. Horvath also said she’d noticed major changes at GitHub as more women were joining.

GitHub public relations representative Liz Clinkenbeard said that she was looking into the accusations and that the company would have something to share soon. GitHub has been valued at $750 million, after the social network for programmers got a $100 million investment from prominent venture firm Andreessen Horowitz in mid-2012.

Horvath did not respond to a query or give further details of her allegations, but said on Twitter she would be writing about her experiences in more detail soon.

Julie Ann Horvath

Twitter profile photo Julie Ann Horvath

The shift in Horvath’s tone is problematic for GitHub, because she had been a long-time defender of GitHub. But even in a January interview with ReadWrite about how progressive the company had become, she noted some lingering issues: “I recently got an email from a middle manager that began, ‘So Julie, how are the women at GitHub?’ I said, ‘You should ask them.'”

Indeed — the point she has been making on Twitter is yet another persuasive case that something in very wrong with the state of women in tech, which has been made elsewhere and more frequently of late and needs desperately to be aired.

The issue has spilled over into other Internet companies too, as Horvath quite correctly called out Secret, the anonymous-sharing app, for leaving up what is an appalling post about her, in which she is called “Queen.”

The controversy calls to mind that of Adria Richards last year, an incident that exploded over issues of how to surface sexist comments. Richards was pilloried for her methods of pointing out the issue publicly rather than dealing with it privately.

That said, Horvath, who has been actively tweeting, just made the point that it matters little how women deal with such gender issues in the workplace.



10 comments
ghos4
ghos4

RobertJohnny - I believe your post is sincere and well intended. However, ending with "Respect to all females" after completely bashing her actions and being clueless to the challenges women face in almost all workplaces and in tech workplaces in particular borders on ridiculous.  


Women face daily battles with harassment that 90% or more of men NEVER are exposed to.  That's exactly why women are speaking up, because they regularly suffer from bad behavior and bad decisions by sexist men while only in very rare circumstances do men suffer the same from women.


If you really want to show respect to women then you much get education on how pervasive this issue is still today and take concrete steps to modify your views and behavior.  Here is one of many, many articles on this topic - http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/01/28/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace/  

RobertJohnny
RobertJohnny

Trying to understand the why the females always get into such troubles and the one who only accuse? Have you ever heard this from any male? I respect females as I do my male peers but again who is right and who is wrong we can't judge. She should not have made her resignation public if that is the case rather officially pursue for grievance. She just want to make her self appear in the news. Sadly. This is not the way to raise a voice - its a full set of allegations by her and an honest lady doesn't throw things out at once.

 

Respect to all females!

jdrch
jdrch

This article gets a LOT wrong:

  1. According to the link, no GitHub employees ever added offensive code. Their users did, though. As said by others on this thread, blaming GitHub for this is nonsensical at best. Implying that GitHub employees contributed such code as you've done here is slander at the least.
  2. Nothing about the post on Secret warrants it being taken down any more than this post should be taken down for accusing GitHub leadership of transgressions.
  3. Adria Richards was fired because she made a wild assertion while claiming to be speaking on behalf of her employer (just about every employee manual forbids this). In doing so, she unnecessarily dragged her employer into undeserved controversy and tarnished their brand (see point #4 here).

To me, this situation sounds as if Horvath wasn't getting along with her coworkers at GitHub for professional reasons, and is now trying to get back at them via trumped up accusations.

encode
encode

Nellie,


Please reconsider the paragraph in which you state: "GitHub has been embroiled in a series of diversity controversies, such as programmers adding racial and sexist slurs into their code".


No such thing has happened. There has been no evidence presented where GitHub employees have engaged in inserting sexist/racist comments into their code. You are doing everyone a disservice by conflating the actions of GitHub's users with the actions of their employees to build an argument.


You might as well be accusing Youtube employees of writing some of the comments on their site.

Whiteshirt
Whiteshirt

Hackernews: Greenshirt's account got hacked and exposed, also his bitcoins

===================================

Ok, this is NOT REAL.

dear @greenshirt, you will be in deep trouble if this is real.

do you really find pleasure from making people upset?

exposing unethical can be heroic, but going overboard is not.

"safe way to talk"?? Come on, it's not a murder case.

dear @nrrrdcore, you've already made it on re/code, now people know what's going on.

it's enough, don't be another greenshirt.

geeks, please say yes to peace.

vladgur
vladgur

...'The issue has spilled over into other Internet companies too, as Horvath quite correctly called out Secret, the anonymous-sharing app, for leaving up what is an appalling post about her, in which she is called “Queen.”.....


I signed up for the Secret yesterday based on the HN comments of their UX interactions and I immediately noticed that in comments below Secret posts, people are assigned random icons and then refer to each other by what the icon looks like. 


She refered to the author of that Secret comment as "greenshirt" in her tweets. Is it possible that the "Queen" was a reference to her icon(which we dont see from the screenshot), rather than an insult. 


It could be just be attributed to a chess figure icon.


P.S. Your Sign Up form is not protected by HTTPS and sends your user's passwords in plain text. This is unacceptable, especially for a "Tech Media Outlet". Please fix it ASAP!! 





oneeyedpigeon
oneeyedpigeon

You're doing Julie a disservice by mixing up her complaints about workplace harassment with utter rubbish about words in source code hosted on github that have as much to do with GitHub, the company, as the content of YouTube comments has to do with Google. You are either wilfully trying to trivialise Julie's serious issue, or are utterly ignorant of how things like GitHub, source code, and the Internet work. Worrying, either way.

bharn008
bharn008

'Nonetheless, GitHub has been embroiled in a series of diversity controversies, such as programmers adding racial and sexist slurs into their code.'


The author may want to reconsider this here. The link is to a post on Gizmodo talking about offensive language in the code of github _users_, not employees of github. Seems to be a non sequitur, in this case.

vladgur
vladgur

btw, id love to hear about Github's "series" of diversity controversies. Linking to a gizmodo article that uses a new search function to find slurs and profanities in OTHER PEOPLE'S text files does not constitute Github's involvement at all. 


It almost sounds like the author wanted to find a trend to support her point, but she most definitely failed to do so.

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