TitStare, Fake Masturbation: What Is TechCrunch Trying to Disrupt? Women in Tech?

a month ago

Why don’t more women don’t get into tech? Uh… maybe because of things like Sunday’s presentations at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in San Francisco. Suppose you take your nine-year-old daughter to a major tech conference to unveil the app she’s built, and you see this: a pair of Australian programmers presenting their new app, Titstare, which they touted as solving the one of the world’s most pressing problems -- how to leer at a woman’s breasts without her noticing. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a Dutch programmer then shows off his app with a presentation that looks awfully similar to masturbation.

Of course, you can’t do anything at a tech conference without expecting live commentary on Twitter, and the reactions included one by the mother of that nine-year-old coder.

It looks like Titstare's supporters might be trying to defend their app (and just making themselves look even worse in the process) by launching a bot farm to tweet Titstare is Awesome:

Usually for a gaffe this big, a company might want to issue a public apology. Here's what the programmers did say, under the Twitter account of their business, Hate You Cards, which bills itself as "custom abusive postcards." (Another niche filled!)

Not exactly the most serious of apologies. TechCrunch's was a little better, though still cavalier.

Amy Ziara at Medium suggests that the TitStare brogrammers issue an apology to TechCrunch organizers, participants and sponsors. Here's part of her suggested wording:

Today we alienated women, and furthered harmful stereotypes of “bro culture.” We have a long way to go in this industry to improve gender equality, and today’s presentation only set us all back.

So where do we go from here? While we can’t go back in time to change what happened, we would like a little bit of good to come out of this situation.

Ziara suggests that the bros donate financially to Girls Who Code, an organization that helps young girls enter computing.

I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling too hopeful that this frat house atmosphere is going to change any time soon. I'm waiting eagerly to see if Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, both scheduled to appear at TechCrunch Disrupt today, will address the issue. I really hope they do -- but I've seen nothing yet. I'll keep an eye on it.

Speaking of girls who code, even surrounded by all displays of disgustingness, nine-year old Alexandra Jordan did introduce her app to wild applause -- she was even given a Surface tablet by Microsoft. She created her app, Super Fun Kid Time, to help schedule playdates.

Now THAT'S an app I could use.

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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