While Horvath characterized much of her woes as being gender-related , the investigation could have classified most of them as either unprovable or terrible-but-not-provably-sexist (in particular, the behavior of the Preston-Werners).
I doubt it will ever be clear what actually happened. Theresa Preston-Werner's response  spends more time avoiding topics than actually covering them. Tom Preston-Werner likewise  makes sure to reinforce the fact that GitHub is immune to lawsuit while providing no real details. I'm sure there are plenty of GitHub employees who have a strong opinion, but enough of them seem to have an ax to grind in one way or another that it's hard to trust that testimony.
"You have a hostile work environment."
"We don't have a provably illegal hostile work environment."
then that doesn't inspire great confidence when evaluating it as a place to work.
I did. So far it's working out in GitHub's favour. But maybe I missed something, so do your own research.
I would think, however, that any sort of reasonable minority calling it a "hostile work environment" would indicate a problem.
I think this can have positive outcomes for GitHub, if they allow it. And if Julie does. Right now we're just in the "public fighting" phase.
That probably says more about the mythological status they had before than about the reality now, but it of course will have an impact on their ability to hire though.
It also should have, and it's normal, and it's how startups turn into big-corps, and that's just the way things are.
The sad truth about culture is that a sustainable culture will feel much more like your parents home than your college dorm; and that will never change... because it's a good thing.
That is the single best line I've read about work culture in software companies in......ever.
I read Github's statement as: "We don't really have any evidence of anything, so we're not going to say anything because we might get sued by one of the involved parties." That situation isn't a good one to be in (and letting an organization get into that situation is serious negligence on the part of leadership).
I'm skeptical. The fact that there is a documented procedure isn't nothing, but it's not that much more than that. I suspect if I went back and counted, a strong plurality of the "I worked in a hostile male environment" accounts I've read occurred in companies with HR departments and explicit sexual harassment policies- GitHub was pretty unique. I've worked in ten-person companies with an HR person.
What an HR department does is make sure management doesn't get sued. The culture of the company isn't something they can control by fiat.
GitHub isn't denying that there were problems and isn't claiming that her story is a complete fabrication. They merely said they don't believe they will lose a lawsuit over it. If anything, they validated that her opinion was fair
That's a good point, though: from our perspective it is still just he-said/she-said (er, she-said/she-said), and I guess it will always be. I guess it just depends on who we (individually) feel is more credible.
Based on Hovarth's public behavior, I'm not feeling too great about her story...
My first comment was in response to onewaystreet's comment "At every company in the world you can find at least one person who hates their job or has problems with their coworkers. I'm not sure they are the person you go to for a fair opinion." The statement seems to imply that it was sour grapes and not an actual systemic problem that led to this situation. My response was that Github's official response admitted that there were problems (explicitly, mind you) but they believed they would win a legal case if it came to it.
My second comment was in response to kelnos's comment 'If you read Theresa Preston-Werner's post (linked above), she claims that the "mistakes and errors of judgment" were completely unrelated to the harassment story, but were discovered during the harassment investigation.' That comment gave Theresa's story much more credibility than Horvath's. Now, this would be a standard he-said-she-said were it not for the fact that Github's reply doesn't refute Horvath's allegations. In fact, Github's reply implicitly refutes Theresa's claim: after all, if what she were saying is true, the official response would have made it clear that the investigation uncovered issues unrelated to the situation at hand.
That is not obvious, and I think it is impossible for us to figure out why the PR agency/HR/management/investors/lawyers that crafted this statement was not more specific and what it means that they did not say something. Only reading the report itself or getting a full summary of it can help with that.
IMO what it means is that people should work extra hard not to contribute to a hostile work environment, or expect to be perceived as contributing to a hostile work environment at randomly unpredictable points in their lifetime.
Shit does happen, regardless of the majority of one's coworkers best intentions.
Every work environment has hostilities. The only way they each differ is in who is the recipient of the hostilities, the degree of hostility present and if that hostility is illegal or not.
In that sense, the statement "We don't have a provably illegal hostile work environment" means exactly nothing, making Github no different than all the other workplaces you are evaluating.
There are three sides to every side of a story... TPW's side, JAH's side and the facts. Given that all we really know are TPW's side and JAH's side and that we have no real facts beyond admitted errors in judgement, we really have no more information upon which to base judgement than before. I know of no company in the world provably immune from errors in judgement, do you?
In other words, you and everyone else should evaluate github based on everything else you know about github and completely discount this entire debacle, since it has not shed light on anything that isn't as equally possible at every other company you may be considering.
That strikes me like saying that all sex is rape, it's just a matter of how violent or unwilling.
* reductio ad absurdam
* red herring
* non sequiter
Not disagreeing with you, just raising a point.
Incidentally (a further parallel to the Axiom of Choice) Intuitionist Logic is also referred to as Constructive Logic.
One branch of constructivist mathematics eschews the axiom of choice, and all do not allow proof of existence by RAA on non-existence.
This is dangerous logic. The court of public opinion is a feedback loop. If an unconfirmed accusation gets no traction then the most hardcore wrongdoers will escape justice because everyone is too afraid to come forward. At the same time, if a confirmed accusation goes unquestioned then someone who has made a false or exaggerated accusation has a huge incentive to cajole friends into making confirmations that are also false or exaggerated, and the more false accusations are made the easier it is for the original accuser (or the likes of Nancy Grace) to convince others to make further false accusations.
That's why these issues are so contentious. Getting to the real truth is practically impossible because people form an opinion first and then produce evidence that comports with it, and that misleading evidence influences the opinions of others who do the same thing until the truth and the story have no relation to each other.
It's an issue where you have to choose between punishing a lot of innocent people (and increasing the power and thereby occurrence of false accusations) or allowing a lot of guilty people to escape punishment. There isn't a good answer, and that makes people angry -- especially if you're one of the innocent people who was punished or one of the victims of the guilty people who weren't.
If this whole thing were as bad as JAH has made it out to be, I would have imagined we would have already seen damning emails and other written correspondence backing up here allegations. As a company that doesn't most of its work asynchronously through written prose, it's not like github doesn't have oodles and oodles of written correspondence that would support her position better. There's email, pull requests, chat, etc. Given the duration of employment, she must have plenty of things to point at. If she didn't she should have made sure that some of the offending interactions were captured in written form at least once.
It probably will challenge their recruitment of women though.
The answers to these questions are still true today:
* does github make a great product? yes.
* does their product make software development and open-source better? yes
* are there interesting problems to work on there? yes.
* would I be working with very talented people there? yes.
* based on what we know as facts or admitted to as facts, would taking a job at github subject me or people I care about to these injustices? AFAICT that's no more likely than at any other company comparable to github in terms of the benefits of working there. Anyone working at github is there at will. If they feel wronged, they can leave, which means I don't have to worry about people I care about being wronged.
The only way my mind would change on this is if I see a voluntary exodus of talent from github over what happened. Absent talent leaving in the current hiring market, we can only come to the conclusion that these wrongdoings were isolated and personal.
Let's keep an eye out for who has left since March 15th, 2014 or so and leaves over the next 3 months. Of that cohort, discount TPW, JAH and anyone who leaves to join TPW's new venture. With the remaining figures, then check if that churn rate for github is any higher than it would have been had this event never happened. If it is not, then this whole issue is pretty much irrelevant.
They're hiring new HR people, GOOD. They're adding training for employees (probably much to the annoyance of those employees), good.
These means that it'll be easier to make the places safer and better for everyone. That's what I'd look at.
Interestingly enough, I'd say that smaller startups suffer from larger biases. Basically if the founders don't like you for some reason or another, you're in for shit. If a "CTO" who worked at the company since the beginning doesn't like you, you're fucked as well. And there's no HR to turn to.
However, determining how people will decide when put to such a situation is difficult. Speaking personally, I would certainly be wary, but I'm not going to dismiss a potential employer outright over something I don't have the complete facts about over one story.
Followup: that statistic is 75% made-up.
Human interaction is not black and white (don't read into that). While this situation will never be totally transparent to the vast majority of us, the necessity of working within our limited knowledge does not imply our knowledge should necessarily be limited.
What every founder fears - https://medium.com/p/2fe173c44215
It comes down to the unrestricted access that was granted. It introduces a person with extreme power but carries no responsibility with regards to work or culture. The end result is what we have today. This type of culture is actually very prevalent in asian companies (where families have unrestricted access) and have been demonstrated to be extremely detrimental. Theresa Preston-Werner blog post is extremely telling where she says "I have many close friends at GitHub, and I certainly had reached out to them when I began to build my company". My wife made the same mistake at her first job (trying too hard to be friends), except that she was an individual contributor and not the wife of the CEO. Her co-workers could just tell her off and she quickly learned the balances that were necessary. It's obvious that Theresa had no experience of this kind and had too much power for people to say "no".
I want to add, I think there was an overfocus on gender issues by all parties (victims, plantiffs, media & company) in the first place. When I read the original article, I felt that regardless of the incident, Julie Ann Horvath was just pulling out the gender card. This was a mistake since it gave Github an easy way out to simply deny the gender-based accusations without any wrong doing.
The whole issue wasn't merely (the alleged) harassment as much as it was the appearance of 'undue influence'. The admission that GitHub forced out the co-founder for this very reason--all the while stepping clear of the topic of sexual harassment--is basically the crux of the matter.
Also, it may have come out in the investigation that the founder gave his non-employee wife way too much inappropriate latitude inside the company. She's conceded that she went too far with her activism around her startup. But especially if she crossed boundaries and had inappropriate access to private company information (as Horvath said she claimed), the founder could take the fall for enabling that.
That's a nice way of putting it.
Out of the mouths of babes...
For all we know Julie-Ann started dating someone close to Theresa Preston-Werner who shared that he, and several others, slept with her and could even be the father of Tom's child and then refused to distance himself from Theresa. When she shared this sad state of affairs in her private love life with some colleagues she was suddenly requested to meet with Theresa and....
See how that's both consistent and perfectly plausible yet still went from bad to worse pretty quickly? These things are messy enough as they are; let's not make them any messier than they need to be.
the whole thing is crass and distasteful to my british sensibilities, but if this the future of how conflict in internet corporations is represented, then we shouldn't be surprised to see allegations from all sides. The key skills that we as audience have to develop is critical thinking, impartiality and a good sense of decency.
The line is drawn at "anonymous internet sources". At least in the sense of euclidean geometry, that is not a "side" of the argument as much as it is a literary device to create an infinite attack surface.
A named or pseudonymous source necessarily has an associated reputation, but an anonymous source has no reputation at all.
Until, of course, a source presents evidence, at which point we evaluate the credibility of the evidence instead of the source.
Even taking all emotion out of it, a story from a source that is probably a lie convey s more emotion than a story from a completely unknown source.
1. Bullying someone into quitting: Illegal.
2. Asking an employee to relay private conversations between her and her partner: Illegal.
3. Justifying the harassment of an employee because of her personal relationships: Pathetic.
4. How does it feel to make money for liars and cowards?
5. Pushing women with strong opinions out of your company because they disagree with you is wrong.
6. What number am I on? Oh yea, how do you sleep at night?
7. Leaving GitHub was the best decision of my life.
8. There was no investigation.
9. There was a series of conversations with a "mediator" who sought to relieve GitHub of any legal responsibility.
10. Whose reasoning included "would it surprise you to hear that [your harasser] was well-liked?"
11. No, no it would not.
12. Women at GitHub who sprang forward to defend the men who harassed me, it is naive to think the same thing cannot and will not happen to you.
13. Best of luck rolling the dice.
14. A company can never own you. They can't tell you who to fuck or not fuck. And they can't take away your voice.
15. Unless you let them.
16. Hmmm still no mention of the man who bullied me out of our code base because I wouldn't fuck him. Too popular to be accountable, I guess.
It's hard to quantify the smell of crazy, but we can start with an overwhelming interest in insulting the other party, and the claims stretch credibility. For example, consider the claim that a man "bullied [her] out of our code base because I wouldn't fuck him". This is a very strong statement and it seems unrealistic that investigators, lawyers, and other people within Github would come forward with "no evidence" of such things happening. On the other hand, it's the sort of thing you would say to appeal to the Internet social-justice-warrior crowd. Even the phrasing smells like something you'd read on Tumblr or a r/shitredditsays comment thread.
I don't think I can make a strong inference about what actually happened, but I would not treat this whole kerfuffle as a useful source of information about gender issues in technology--except that this is another example how powerful accusations concerning touchy issues can be, even when there is "no evidence" for them.
Her responses also failed to address the fact that one of the co-founders resigned.
So at the end of the day we have someone spewing vitriol; and someone stepping down from a prestigious position as a show of good faith. That's the only evidence I have and it doesn't reflect well on Julie at all; I can only imagine what it's like to work with a person who spits out expletives at that cadence.
What I imagine happened is some guy at work had a crush on her and made an awkward pass at her. Maybe he tried to smell her hair or something, I don't know. She shot him down, then he got all butthurt and started undoing her commits on the projects they worked on together. Because they were painful reminders of her.
From his perspective, he's a sensitive guy who just got rejected and isn't coping well. But to her, he's the guy deleting her code because she wouldn't fuck him.
That doesn't seem crazy at all to me. It seems totally possible, and just the kind of situation competent HR departments are supposed to prevent and mitigate.
(I am speaking in general and totally not referring to any specifics of the situation here.)
"Pushing [people] with strong opinions out of your company
because they disagree with you is wrong."
How you say something matters as much if not more than what you are saying. Given the tweets and posts I've seen from JAH, it's pretty easy to imagine prior behavior that others would have considered toxic.
> 1. Bullying someone into quitting: Illegal.
If that bullying falls under the legal definition of harassment, then yes, it is illegal. But that's kind of begging the question a bit (e.g. Bullying someone is illegal because it is harassment). The thing is, some/much what Horvath described was assuredly captured in electronic records. If she believes something is illegal, and she is not afraid of speaking out, she should take the next step and file a lawsuit.
> 2. Asking an employee to relay private conversations between her and her partner: Illegal.
OK not sure what that refers to. Again, Twitter is not great for these things.
> 3. Justifying the harassment of an employee because of her personal relationships: Pathetic.
Who justified what?
> 4. How does it feel to make money for liars and cowards?
OK and then the rest of this seems like free association. I agree that a third-party investigation instigated by the accused is not automatically the truth, but neither are accusations. The word illegal has real meaning and if Horvath has the proof, then let's see it, rather than have a TechCrunch retelling be the canonical source of facts.
Around the end of 2012, Julie started dating a close male friend of the cofounder’s wife and didn’t like that they were close. She asked them to stop being friends and when they would not end their relationship, Julie started telling coworkers that the wife had affairs and that the cofounder’s newborn child was not his. She told this to multiple coworkers directly and also to the wife through her boyfriend.
This is where the wife reached out to her and the rest of her story starts. All of Julie’s story involving the cofounder’s wife occurs only after Julie was spreading vicious rumors about him to even new employees.
^ Non-anonymous viewpoints could perhaps be considered more trustworthy because there is the threat of a libel/slander lawsuit if they are complete fabrications. However on the other hand, all/most of the non-anonymous viewpoints that we have are the viewpoints of people directly involved in the scandal. We can assume that the anonymous viewpoint, if it is not a fabrication, is not from somebody involved in the scandal. However since they were not involved directly in it, it is also possible that they received an incomplete picture of everything... Everything is uncertain. I am reminded of the closing dialog to "Burn After Reading".
The anonymous account just makes the whole store make a lot more sense.
Really? I can. They behave messily and almost always with a keen eye towards advancing their own position, whatever it may be, rational, honest, or otherwise.
> I'm not even sure what you're implying the implausible behaviour in Horvath's account is.
The part where complex, multi-party, interactions are dramatic in the extreme, bad behavior is completely one-sided, and the entire situation ascribed to a simplistic (gender bias) narrative.
That never happens.
Putting the pieces together, what seems to make a more convincing narrative is that Howarth was a bully herself.
I am incredibly curious how this doesn't describe the anon account much better than Horvath's, only changing 'gender bias' to 'relationship insanity.' Who has bad behaviour other than Horvath in that account? How is it not incredibly dramatic?
It reads like an episode of Jerry Springer.
It's also fairly meaningless since if you interpret this story as 'Julie-Ann started dating someone close to Theresa Preston-Werner who shared he slept with her and could even be the father of Tom's child and then refused to distance himself from Theresa; a sad state of affairs which Julie-Ann shared with some colleagues,' it immediately paints an entirely different picture.
Not to mention the fact that, assuming the writer is indeed a Github employee, the fact that it would instantly place her at grave risk of losing her job.
Edit: I checked. It was posted three times. First was deleted by the poster. Second was flag-killed by users. Third is still up but heavily flagged. No moderator touched any of them.
Many flags on political stories and flamewars come not from users with opposing politics but from users who, regardless of their politics, don't think HN is the place for them. It's a "pox on both their houses" thing.
GitHub should have implemented a blocking mechanism to stop people inviting Zed to 'dick' projects, and if the rumour mongering story is true, HR should have stepped in and disciplined Horvath.
They did: https://github.com/blog/862-block-the-bullies
They never admitted to it being a response to the incident with Zed, but the timing was too convenient. That blog post was dated 05/31/2011. Zed's commits to the repo in question happened on 05/28/2011: https://github.com/moron5/dongml/commit/f4b8df910e4048202768...
As best I've been able to work out, whatever juvenile oaf created the "dongml" repo added Shaw to it in order to harass him somehow, and Shaw responded by writing a script to constantly commit changes to the repo which essentially rendered it empty, which seems reasonable both as retaliation in that specific case, and for general reasons of good taste. Then, in response, Github added a feature so that the "dongml" infant could block Shaw.
Would anyone with closer to firsthand knowledge of the incident care to let me know whether I'm on the warm side or the cold?
Zed wrote up a long blog post telling the whole story but I think it's been deleted since.
The internet has a way of unshutting the whole thing up: https://web.archive.org/web/20130117043748/http://sheddingbi...
and the followup https://web.archive.org/web/20120619005253/http://sheddingbi...
Certainly, if it was a case of the guy getting pressured to leave, one could make the case that the company recognized that they had a problem and tried to get rid of said problem in the way that was least likely to get them sued, by asking someone to resign. And really, if you are an executive, and are asked to resign, what are you gonna do? You're gonna resign, and try to make it seem like a voluntary thing. Even if everyone knows you actually got your ass fired, it shows that you are the sort of executive who will play the game and not take down the rest of the company if you get in trouble.
What would it benefit Github or the P-W husband/wife for the investigation report to have published such a thing? Why air your dirty laundry in public?
It's most likely that the company and its co-founder are on the same page, if only for damage control purposes. (Why break ranks and threaten your brand and stock price, after all?)
There may have been awkward and/or angry discussions in camera. Non-insiders are very unlikely to ever hear what went on in said discussions.
"While Horvath characterized much of her woes as being
gender-related , the investigation could have
classified most of them as either unprovable or terrible-
"man who bullied [her] out of [github's] code base because
[she] wouldn't fuck him. Too popular to be accountable,
In light of this other recent commits (by a longtime githubber who would be expected to exhibit much better git hygiene and committing habits), and lacking the content of the actual reverted commit, I would say that the claims of gender bias in this specific case appear dubious at best.
If this other githubber did in fact make such vulgar comments, we still wouldn't have enough information without also knowing if that comment was completely unsolicited and out-of-the-blue, or if it was reactionary to whatever JAH may have said to this person just prior to the comment being made. Context matters. It could have been verbal self defense in response to a verbal attack, which is still unprofessional, but far more excusable especially if the original attack was equally unprofessional and sexually-charged. Given JAH's tact thus far, her character suggests someone who would have started a verbal fight.
Where is this mentioned?
This thing where people think that investigators you hired are "independent" and that their conclusions carry something similar to the weight of a court of law is ridiculous.
> We learned that unnamed employees felt pressured by Tom and me to work pro-bono for my nonprofit
It's really hard to take seriously the claims that "my husband did nothing wrong" when
1. He resigned.
2. She's now being accused of shady practices in her own company as well.
If true, this would be a very difficult employee to keep at the company. She should have been fired for inappropriate behavior rather than given an elevated role (which she can now use to bolster her case). Very poor handling and it does suggest a degree of naivety on the part of management.
Having said that, the founder's wife also admits that her actions were a role in his departure. It sounds like she had way too much free reign at the company and was making people uncomfortable with her activism around her startup. The fact that she presented herself to Horvath as having a lot of influence and power within the company reflects that. Plus it's a fertile ground for more serious transgressions into company privacy and so forth. Also should've been nipped in the bud early on.
The fact is that if someone is a bullying douchebag, they're probably going to continue with the same behaviour. (I'm not making any comments as to exactly who was the bully here, as it depends who you believe).
So, she thinks someone undid her commits because… something.
Is it possible that her code was… inadequate? Obsolete? Had bugs?
Because, guess what, no line of code could ever be changed without someone calling names. Consider this:
- OMG I am Mexican and this Asian guy undid my commits. He did it because he is racist! Call Techcrunch.
- OMG I am 23 and this 45-year old guy undid my changes. Guess I should call the papers and complain!!!
- OMG I am 45 and this 23-year old guy undid my changes. Guess I should call the papers and complain!!!
- OMG I am gay and this coworker undid my changes. He did it because I am gay and he is straight and he is intolerant!!!
- So I am Armenian and this Turkish guy undid my changes. WHAT THE HELL he did it just because I am Armenian! He hates me!
- OMG I am a woman and this guy undid my changes. He did it because he hates women! Call the police!!!
- OMG I am a man and this woman undid my changes. She did it just to because she is feminist bi0tch!!!
- OMG I prefer functional programming, but this imperative-programming guy undid my changes! WTF what a horrible workplace can I sue someone about this?
Guess what. On a large project, any piece of code may be changed by any number of people. Usually because someone found a bug, or improvement is needed.
If you claim that someone changed your code _because_ you belong to some minority or whatever group, you better have some proof.
In this case, if I was Ms Horvat’s employer, I would ask her to either prove her allegations, beyond reasonable doubt, in a court of law, or shut up and apologize. Maybe I would sue her for libel, too.
So I don't know how much stock you can place behind the idea that the investigators GH hired, who did not contact ex-employees competently, found them blameless. The resignation probably speaks for more than the investigation does.
Her picture proves nothing, after all.
Your conclusion about "how much stock to place" does not follow, since this allegation has not been proven true.
Having been involved in this sort of thing before, both on the "asked to investigate" and "asked to play witness for an employee side", i'd say the truth always lies somewhere in between, and both employers and employees tend to behave badly.
In my experience, the truth usually lies very strongly to one side of the spectrum, and sometimes beyond an extreme (as reasonable people often bend over backwards in giving their version of events, while unreasonable people do not), but you'll never find out for sure.
E.g. in the Techcrunch piece Horvath says that the founder's wife spoke of having spies, and influencing HR decisions, and so on. I can easily imagine the conversation taking place over drinks, and it could be horribly sinister or it could be someone's not-very-well-judged attempt at humor. But this doesn't mean that "the truth is in-between".
Horvath said the founder spoke of having spies, etc.
The founder says she did nothing of the sort, and blah blah blah
I would thus expect the truth is "the founder said she kept in touch with goings-on in the company through friends" or something similarly in-between.
Not "The founder has hired spies that prepare detailed daily reports" (which would be very strongly to one side) or "the founder has no idea what goes on in the company, and knows nobody" (which would be to the other).
IMHO, of course. Maybe you have a different view of what it would mean to lean strongly to one side of the spectrum in that situation?
Second, This is somewhat pedantic.
The OP simply assumed what whatever Jane said was true, and then went from there.
Your complaint is essentially that i did not add the words "in every case i have been part of, and every one i know about in sufficient independent detail" in front of "always". All told, that's about 43 cases.
Feel free to pretend i did write that, if it suffices.
If not, feel free to disbelieve me!
Unfortunate that it is anonymous, but it is still worth reading in my opinion.
Reading several weeks of Horvath's twitter feed and several articles where she's quoted, it's apparent to me that regardless of what happened at Github, she is a bitter and dramatic individual. That's NOT the kind of person that backs down to the adult-talk at the table.
Again, I don't know what happened at github, and I honestly don't care. What I do know is that I would never hire Horvath regardless of what she could do for the company. Far too much risk, and exemplified with a terribly immature response even if everything she says is true.
Not saying those two things aren't useful, but I would certainly not characterize this anon blog post as "worthless" by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it makes the whole situation make a lot more sense. The original one-sided account from Ms. Horvath always sounded a bit implausible to me, at least without more information to frame it.
The senses of doubt will only be ~the same if your prior for the probability of "someone out of ~200 github employees would lie about this and attach their name to it" is about the same as your prior for "someone out of the other ~3,000,000,000 people on the internet would pretend to be a github employee and make this up".
The larger someone's prior is for the latter relative to the former, the more worthless an anonymous blogpost is to them.
The fact that this story helps everything "make sense" is not a useful heuristic. Anybody can craft this kind of tale, and it might also be playing on our prejudices - the spurned, jealous, bitchy lover narrative.
But, as for myself, I don't have to make any judgment, nor do I want to. I don't want to do is pick a side based on my prejudices and a few blog posts.
By now we all should know that women are routinely harassed in tech companies to a preposterous degree. On the other hand, I've seen cases where mentally disturbed people invent (or self-delude) incredibly detailed narratives of persecution. We could be dealing with a situation where one, the other, both, or neither is happening. If you have evidence that settles the case, by all means please post it.
Something that is clear is that Github's investigation was flawed. And if Horvath really wasn't contacted until late in the process, it certainly makes it look like Github was more interested in a coverup than the truth.
By now we all should know that women are routinely harassed in tech companies to a preposterous degree. On the other hand, I've seen cases where mentally disturbed people invent (or self-delude) incredibly detailed narratives of persecution. We could be dealing with a situation where one, the other, both, or neither is happening.
The thing that irks me about all this is that murky incidents like this, where the alleged victim is (to many) not a very sympathetic character, and possibly acted improperly herself and instigated the whole situation (if the anon blog post is to be believed), does little to help set an example for why the real instances of harassment are so wrong and terrible.
After this, I'm left with a very poor taste in my mouth. GH's investigation was likely somewhat flawed, though it's unclear to what degree. Horvath almost certainly wasn't telling the full story about what happened, and may even have instigated the entire thing, and is using the prevalence of sexism in tech (and the expected knee-jerk community outcry) to attack someone she's (unjustifiably?) angry with. Or maybe everything she's said is true, and the Preston-Werners are terrible people, and GH has/had a serious discrimination problem coming from the top. We'll probably never know.
The whole situation just stinks.
> does little to help set an example for why the real instances of harassment are so wrong and terrible.
Ah, but this is why most victims don't go public. Very few of us would look good under intense scrutiny. And I think this whole process has demonstrated how tilted the playing field is, against those who do go public.
Some people say that this is why people claiming to be victims deserve a kind of automatic support. I struggle with that, but only because I've personally witnessed a couple of the rare cases where that empowered someone who was slightly deranged.
If I was in a similar position I'd take it to court, but if for some reason I wanted to do trial by media, I'd be gushing with detail.
Outsiders know what answer you want, and know it's unprofitable to have a reputation for biting the hand that feeds them.
To take a british example, back in 2006 the news of the world hired harbottle & lewis to do an internal investigation of phone hacking. Guess what, they didn't find anything.
Edit: Clarified that if the person paying for the investigation doesn't have a conflict of interest or plans to act on the recommendations, independent (or even non-independent) investigations can produce results.
Finding bad news when you're a security auditor is good.
Someone hired to do an investigation like this has an incentive to downplay any results. If they agreed with the accusations, GitHub would either have to hide the results, or publicly say "Yeah, we think we were likely legally liable for a hostile and sexually abusive work environment". They would not be taking those auditors out for celebratory drinks.
If the consultant says "Yep, you're in the clear", GitHub can announce publicly how great everything is.
Finding bad news when you're investigating a PR disaster is bad.
It's a well-known problem with auditor/audited relationships. What the customer wants is a clean bill of health after an easy audit. The auditor needs to be tough enough to maintain a good reputation, but beyond that they are looking to maximize volume. The Economist mentions this every year or two , and they're especially concerned when auditing firms do a lot of financial consulting for the audited firms. Then there's an even stronger incentive to make the audit generous.
Another good analogy is medical marijuana cards in states where marijuana is supposedly only for medical purposes. In theory, doctors are careful gatekeepers. In practice, the doctors doing those certifications have a strong financial incentive to certify as many people as quickly as possible. I've lived in San Francisco, and I've never heard of anybody getting turned down for one of those cards.
 e.g.: http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/03/dewey-lebo... or http://www.economist.com/node/954033
See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_rating_agencies_and_the...
(For the record, I never saw any unethical fairness opinions while I was in investment banking)
The consulting industry has similar dynamics. They are mainly there to provide evidence in favor of a plan proposed by whomever is their primary contact. See, for example, the article by the BCG consultant at : "What I could not get my head around was having to force-fit analysis to a conclusion. In one case, the question I was tasked with solving had a clear and unambiguous answer: By my estimate, the client’s plan of action had a net present discounted value of negative one billion dollars. Even after accounting for some degree of error in my reckoning, I could still be sure that theirs was a losing proposition. But the client did not want analysis that contradicted their own, and my manager told me plainly that it was not our place to question what the client wanted."
Legal firms have lawyer-client confidentiality rules, so if they do find anything, with a bit of care you can bury or lie about their findings with impunity.
Not to mention that it seems like the tech industry has done a lot for her family's life so it seems strange and ungrateful to respond with anger that other people in positions of less influence than her family has, are not doing enough for the world in some vague sense.
Not to mention the massive hypocrisy that she is raising money from institutional investors as donors to cover operations costs for her non-profit which is ultimately a shakedown on salaried employees. There are things I agree with Theresa about, but asking the ultra-rich for money to support her venture to pressure regular people to give more to charity is nuts.
I have a feeling Ms. Horvath and Mrs. Preston-Werner completely believe their own interpretations of what happened.
This is a good reminder of how subtle and ambiguous our and others views of the same reality is. In her post Theresa mentions having a blind spot for the obligations that github employees felt for helping her charity, but she didn't see it, she saw friends.
I think this is a good lesson to us all about not only making clear HR polices, but also always giving intentional consideration to how those around us see what we say and do. A kind of intellectual empathy.
"I was the wife of the CEO, but that never entered my mind when I hung out with any GitHubbers."
That is just not acceptable; it's the equivalent of walking around with a machine gun in your hands and saying that you never considered it might have any impact.
As much as she might have liked it to, you can't wield considerable power over people's lives and have them treat you as though you don't. It just doesn't work that way.
I'm not sure exactly how to phrase it, but I think there's something there in general applicable to the current round of companies which have 'flat' organizational structures, but still aren't hardly employee-owned democratically-managed enterprises.  There are owners and bosses, there are people with ultimate decision-making powers (including hiring and firing) and those without, some who have a heck of a lot more salary/equity than others -- but at the same time, the 'flat structure' somehow seems as if everyone's expected to ignore that and act like it's not true.
It's of course not a coincidence that Github is one of the most famous examples of such a 'flat structured' (not not actually democratically-managed) companies.
And I think it's a shame that people will use this as an example of why hieararchy and authority is neccessary. I think it's more about the dangers of trying to make hieararchy and authority invisible when it actually still exists.
Thanks for your comment which helped me start thinking about this, sorry my response is much less coherent. :)
I want to emphasize this, because it is absolutely a thing that tends to happen even with the best of intentions from all parties. You can't eliminate hierarchy by hiding it.
Don't get sucked into thinking you're peers with your employees when you decide how much they get paid, what work they do all day, and whether or not they keep their job. They don't see you as a peer.
At the end, the movie even explicitly rejects the theory that truth is unobtainable, and that everyone is corrupt. In the movie at least, disinterested third parties who have good intentions can reveal the truth.
You may believe in subjectivity, but Rashomon doesn't.
grandparent post was talking about the need for intellectual empathy. i've seen that work wonders in my life. it's like this thread of comments shows the need for intellectual empathy in microcosm.
It's like someone is raving about the military, and someone quotes appending Dulce et decorum est below. Not a big deal, but big enough to write a small comment making a correction, just in case.
Using the word "exonerated" outright ignores the conclusion of the report. The github hired investigator reported no evidence of legal wrong-doing. Then the company fired/accepted the resignation of Preston-Werner for his "other" mistakes.
I think it's safe to say Github would not admit to legal wrong doing publicly as that just opens them up to legal liability. But to then say "no legal wrongdoing" translates into Preston-Werner being exonerated has to be some sort of joke.
while there may have been no legal wrongdoing, the investigator did find evidence of
mistakes and errors of judgment
I don't think you can read much in to anything here, GH painted themselves in to a corner and either had to deny the allegations or their seriousness or someone had to get punished.
If she reported something to HR and it backfired, I think she should sue them, I really don't care about the co-founder's wife lurking around too much or who was friends with whom or who was sleeping with whom. That's pretty serious to me, so sue them.
We left github private repo hosting when they got VC funding. Because of such a scenario where we could be competing with a company that was funded by the same VC that gave GH money.
Now in a perfect world that shouldn't be a problem because the VC should never access private user data. But well ... as you see it's not a perfect world and if a wife of an employee can browse through customer data than why shouldn't this be true for the guy who gave GH a few million dollars?
Though I agree it presents a bad image of GitHub's access control in general.
I'm curious because if the company is not large, doesn't seem like much of a hassle having your own depository server.
Edit: I looked it up; California, too, is a community property state. Theresa was absolutely an effective board member.
I just drafted a stock purchase agreement for my business partner and I on our new startup and one of the basic boilerplate additions to the stock purchase / vesting agreement is a spousal agreement to the terms of the purchase.
The communal property law only relates during a divorce were the shares are split up between the couple by the courts. Any decently written stock purchase agreement has a first right of refusal for the company to purchase back those shares in the event of an involuntary transfer.
Be paranoid. Encrypt it if you don't want people to snoop.
My dad works for IBM doing mainframe repair and installation. He's seen his coworkers fired for allowing unauthorized individuals to use their company laptops. They've gone even further in the last few years in making unauthorized software a fireable offense.
Granted, two data points isn't a lot but there are companies that have enforced policies to prevent sensitive information from leaking.
I should also point out both my dad and I do significant amounts of work from home and we are both required by our companies to use full disk encryption.
Which is different from saying that the company would fire them if the spouse used their inside-access to harm the company in any way.
In short, many vendors go to great expense to vet, audit, and limit the number of employees who could potentially access customer data. Some will geo-locate physically separate systems under separate administration according to regional necessity.
Disclosure: works for such a vendor.