It's a statistically proven fact that most technology companies are boy's clubs. Sexism runs rampant in places like Silicon Valley for the simple reason that big tech companies employ virtually no women (and certainly no women of color). And although big companies like Apple and Google have recently made efforts to bring more women into the field, they still have a long way to go to achieve parity. Of course, it doesn't help when companies like Microsoft go out of their way to make women feel excluded, which is exactly what happened at an Xbox after-hours party at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
According to The Wrap, Microsoft execs hired female dancers dressed as "sexy schoolgirls" to perform at the event, much to the dismay of female employees.
After the video was posted, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, released a statement calling the decision to hire the dancers "unequivocally wrong" and "unfortunate." "It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values," he wrote. He went on:
This matter is being handled internally, but let me be very clear—how we represent ourselves as individuals, who we hire and partner with and how we engage with others is a direct reflection of our brand and what we stand for. When we do the opposite, and create an environment that alienates or offends any group, we justly deserve the criticism.
It’s unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way. I am personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to our everyday business and our core values as a team—inside and outside the company. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards and we will do better in the future.
We can only hope the scandal spurs some actual progress.