In news that’s not at all surprising, yet another tech event was disrupted by a sexist joke.
“Titstare” was the first presentation of the TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 hackathon. Created by Australians Jethro Batts and David Boulton, the joke app is based on the “science” of how sneaking a peek at cleavage helps men live healthier lives.
Their inappropriate, pun-filled presentation led to an almost immediate apology from TechCrunch editors Alexia Tsotsis and Eric Eldon.
“You expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves. We are sorry,” they wrote.
The tech industry is supposed to be a meritocracy, and in some ways the weekend hackathon proved that to be true. Even a 9-year-old, Alexandra Jordan, took to the stage to present her own app, Super Fun Kid Time, which schedules playdates for kids. It's refreshing, and a bit sad, to see Jordan acting far more grown up in her presentation than her adult male peers.
But the opening salvo cast an ugly shadow over the event, reminding attendees that, just like at PyCon and other technology conferences, “brogrammer” culture is still the norm.
Perhaps most disconcerting is the fact that Batts and Boulton presented immediately before Adria Richards, a programmer who rose to the national spotlight after she witnessed sexist jokes at PyCon 2013. Her gall to disapprove of the offensive jokes earned her death threats.
Of course, 9-year-old Jordan was also witness to the presentation as she waited to present her own app, much to the chagrin of her father, Richard Jordan.
Eventually, Batts and Boulton themselves issued an apology on Twitter.
#titstare guys here, sorry if we offended some of you, very unintentional. Just a fun Aussie hack.— Hate You Cards (@HateYouCards) September 8, 2013
Batts and Boulton probably assumed that their app would entertain a typical “brogrammer” audience where women and their bodies are nothing more than punchlines. But if they'd looked around, they would have noticed they were sharing the stage with women of all ages.
It’s 2013, and the assumption of technology as a male space needs to change. The participants already have.
Screenshot via TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 Hackathon