Say you're a startup that mightily offends a whole bunch of people by promising "women" as a perk at a hackathon, and worse, promising those women specifically for the purpose of getting beer for hordes of programmers, like it's set in the universe of Conan the Barbarian. How do you go about apologizing to all those people for being massive jerks and perpetuating the persistent streak of misogyny and sexism in tech?
Do you take out a newspaper ad? Donate to an appropriate charity? Or do you individually reply to every single one of your critics on Twitter with the same two canned responses? If you're Sqoot — why am I not surprised that a startup whose name sounds like a butt thing would do this? — the latter. Times hundreds. Really. Just scroll down its Twitter feed. It'll take a while, but I'll wait. Or if you don't want to click over, here's a (very) tiny of sampling.
The very spiffy bit.ly link in its tweet— it really is fantastic — takes you to a Google Doc here, with this not-very-good explanation:
Sqoot is hosting an API Jam in Boston at the end of March. One of the perks we (not our sponsors) listed on the event page was:
“Women: Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you.”
While we thought this was a fun, harmless comment poking fun at the fact that hack-a-thons are typically male-dominated, others were offended. That was not our intention and thus we changed it.
We’re really sorry,
Avand & Mo
Hey bros! I don't know if you've noticed, but the lack of women in technology and the way so much of nerd culture views women is an actual problem. So, not to be a bear or anything, but that's not really an apology! Or at least a very good one, because you don't seem to understand what was actually wrong here. The problem is not that "others were offended." The problem is what you said. A lot of nerd culture already does a bangup job performing misogyny (just scan reddit for 20 minutes). Aaaand we have already have enough bros being bros elsewhere in the world. The last thing the world needs is some horrible, mutant hybrid of the two. So I really hope you guys figure it out.