You learn something new every day – Boston’s badass tech women

Image from <a href="">The Boston Globe</a> via DC Comics
Image from The Boston Globe via DC Comics

There has been a lot written lately about how truly brutal it can be for women in tech.

From sexual harrassment issues at a few Silicon Valley companies to venture capitalists in Boston making female employees feel uncomfortable, there’s no end to stories of women in tech being made to feel inferior to their male counterparts and having people in power (read: taking advantage of their access to investment money) misusing their positions for nefarious reasons.

Erica Swallow has been gaining a ton of attention for standing up and talking about (despite the possibility of being “blacklisted”) her experiences at General Catalyst and talking about the gender gap that exists in venture capital. While having partners chastise you, to the point of bringing you to tears, is not something that any adult woman should have to deal with, it is the unfortunate reality of the venture capital world.

But that could be changing as the bad players are outed.

There is something completely different (yet related) occurring in the world of video games.

Boston video game company founder Brianna Wu has had to deal with threats of rape, nasty name-calling, and worse, because she decided to stand up and talk about how some people in the gaming industry are taking going way too far with their mysogyny.

If you haven’t been following the news, issues related to women in tech are reaching a boiling point in the gaming industry.

Just this week, Anita Sarkeesian, who does a YouTube series on the outrageous portrayals of women in video games, has been forced to leave her home because threats from video game fans became so real that her safety was threatened.

Brianna Wu knows all too well what Sarkeesian is dealing with.

Wu, who heads development at Boston-based (and mostly women-run) video game company, SpaceKat, also recently spoke up about how some men involved in the gaming industry are going way too far with their expression of displeasure at how women are being more vocal about the awful behavior they see, firsthand, towards women.

Wu’s piece in Polygon, “The Daily Harassment of Women in the Gaming Industry”, is a must-read. But, for her troubles, Wu has opened the flood gates for more abuse and threats that are truly disgusting from male member of the video game world who want to keep their insular, misguided, and disturbing status quo.

I think it is great, and should be championed, what Wu, Sarkeesian, and Swallow are doing. They are not alone in their experiences. And, they should have a ton of support from everyone in the tech industry.

It’s an unfortunate truth that not every woman (and morally upstanding male VC and founder) in the Boston tech community is as brazen, bold, and willing to put their best interests on the line to get the truth about certain “bad players.”

Maybe the risks that the Erica Swallow’s and Brianna Wu’s are taking will make others realize that talking about how a lot of women in tech are in can’t-win situations is more important than company/organization legacies.

(Many websites who have been covering this story have been inundated with some nasty spamming. Please don’t click on any website links that may in the comment section.)

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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