Dell Computers recently held a company event in Denmark. It was a large and important enough event that Michael Dell himself spoke.
Dell’s Danish arm hired, as emcee and entertainer for the day, a performer named Mads Christensen, who is a well-known provocateur in Danish media circles. According to Vejlo and a few English-language Danish blogs, he’s primarily known for making racist, sexist, and other inflammatory comments in public.
He continued the streak that day. Vejlo live-tweeted the event and Christensen’s comments as they unfolded: for example, his opening line, roughly translated as, “There are almost no girls in this room, and I am happy. Why are you here at all?” “Gender quotas are still fairly healthy in your industry,” he went on.
On innovation, the emcee who directly followed Michael Dell on-stage commented that “All the great inventions are from men; we can thank women for the rolling pin.” And he ended his comments by saying IT was the last bastion for men, and that they should let the mantra “shut up, b–ch” hiss out from between their teeth. All to laughter and applause from that collection of some 800 IT professionals, overwhelmingly male. Dell’s Danish director, Nicolai Moresco, reportedly praised Christensen’s performance onstage as he thanked the emcee for his comments.
But there is totally no hostile atmosphere pushing women out of the computer industry. You can tell because of Dell’s reaction.
Oh, wait. Moresco’s response was a classic notpology of the “I’m sorry you feel that way” variety. Dell’s official response was of the “We’re really very good about women so we don’t have to do anything to address this” sort. Glad that makes gender-based attacks commissioned by the company all okey dokey then.
Or if you don’t want to take the company’s word that everything is nifty and women are just overreacting to being called bitches at work, you could ask the commenters on that c|net article. They’ll be happy to tell you that women are just inherently different, prefer gossipy office environments to work, never had any interest in computer science to begin with, need to put up with harassment or learn to handle it better themselves because guys make mean jokes at each other sometimes, and that we only ever complain:
Because it keeps the perpetual-grievance, professional-victim types in business.
If you treat individuals as individuals and judge them on their merits and character, it destroys the Entitlement mentality pushed so hard by those who know they can’t make it on ability and demand pet-group set asides.
No, we have to keep collectivist identity politics alive. Better to patronize and call into question the accomplishments of those who earn their way if it keeps the handouts flowing to those who don’t.
You know, because once you’ve objected to something, you’re disqualified from pointing it out when something similar happens again. Because someone talking about how women, as a group, shouldn’t be in the room at an IT event is treating individuals as individuals. Because it’s only collectivist identity politics when someone who isn’t the societal default talks about something based on their identity.
But there is totally no hostile atmosphere pushing women out of the computer industry. None at all.
Update: Dell has issued an apology via Google+.
Dell response regarding insensitive comments from Mads Christensen
During a Dell-hosted customer and partner summit in Copenhagen in April, well-known public speaker and moderator, Mads Christensen, made a number of inappropriate and insensitive remarks about women. Dell sincerely apologizes for these comments. As members of our Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) know, Dell is an enthusiastic and committed advocate of women in business and IT. These comments do not reflect Dell’s company values and undermine much of the work we’ve done in support of women in the workplace overall.
Empowering women and their businesses is something close to our hearts at Dell and is the motivation behind our Women Powering Business initiative and DWEN – a network and annual conference that helps bring female founders, CEOs and innovative leaders together, share best practices and open up new business opportunities around the world.
Over the last few years, we’ve launched several internal and external initiatives designed to accelerate the increasingly powerful role women play in driving economic growth. We’re proud that some of that work resulted in awards and recognition by various women’s organizations. This year, as an example, Dell received recognition as one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women in the UK for the second year in a row.
Once again, we apologize for this unfortunate event. Going forward, we will be more careful selecting speakers at Dell events.