I have stepped down as a Microsoft MVP

After nearly ten years, I have stepped down as a Microsoft MVP due to unacceptable behaviour of some of my MVP peers both towards me and ‘in passing’ where I have been exposed to vile commentary. I cannot stay in a Program where it is not a safe space for me.

Additionally, the silence of spectators has convinced me that Diversity and Inclusion efforts are not hitting home. I also do not want to continue being part of the lie that things are ok for Women in Technology. I have tried my best to make things better but I cannot change things.

Donald Trump said this week that he asked his team to ‘slow down’ the virus testing because it meant that they would find more cases. In this way, the MVP Program will have less complaints about diversity and inclusion efforts, so that may appear like a success for them. The truth is, they have lost the opportunity to do and be better. I have also lost any hope I had that they will do better, and they have lost my voice in trying to make it so for nearly ten years; longer than many people actually work for Microsoft as a job. The Humans of IT / Diversity and Inclusion efforts have to be more than a marketing effort. It has to be part of the DNA, and given the silence, there is a long way to go. I am not trying any longer.

 Very specifically, MeToo is not a joke and people need to speak out as leaders to support other people. People saw what as written about me (in one example problem I had) and in another example, the vile commentary (not aimed at me) but which I was exposed to. A related issue was the indifference of my ex-fellow MVPs who said nothing, and the Microsoft staff who said nothing. Nobody reached out. I cannot begin to tell you how hurtful it has been, and I have not eaten for about two days.

For those of you who need to understand that #MeToo is not a joke, here are some sample blogs to get you started. Where I have previously said that I felt safe, I no longer do. And that’s not just down to one offender; that’s also down to the fact that nobody (except one woman) supported me, and that includes Microsoft and MVP people.

MeToo as a Woman in Technology

The Uncomfortable Truth

Stop pretending to be an ally. Do more than just believe victims.

I tried to implement an Open Source Charter for dealing with harassment at events, but only two MVPs stepped forward to try and help. It’s just not a priority. I also no longer felt safe at Microsoft events; although I am not referring to this person earlier in the current blog, I was additionally worried that this guy would turn up at events and what would I do then? Note that the blog starts off talking about two other incidents and he had nothing to do with those. These are two other situations. The problems are more widespread than just this situation.

I have plenty more to say but, for now, I leave you with two quotes:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

25 thoughts on “I have stepped down as a Microsoft MVP

  1. Dear Jen,
    this makes me feel very, very sad. I had the opportunity to meet you at SQL Saturday Edinburgh BI Edition in 2014, and at a couple of Microsoft events since then. You stood out for your brilliant way to host and organize such a great technical event, and your talent really shone during the talks I had the privilege to attend to.
    I really am embarassed for how a professional environment with so many great people I had the privilege to know can make its members feel unsafe. Be sure that I’ll do my best to support diversity, inclusion and to make every environment – professional or not – a safe place for each and everyone.
    I wish you all the best,

    1. so very sad to hear to have heard this news Jen. the sad fact is in today’s society with the likes of Trump on one hand and johnson on the other you will always be doomed to failure no matter what you said in whatever way you said it.

      the overall standards of decency / or integrity in business are long gone and they’re never coming back. my daughter has been working alongside the UK government the past few years as a consultant and her verdict was there all rubish and has now left the country shes 27 now living in Australia.

  2. May you at least have the support of trusted friends. i’m sorry you had to go through this, with no-one coming to your side enthusiastically at the time.

  3. You know what, Jen? this doesn’t suprises me at all. I stepped down of a Microsoft position many years ago; and it was (between a lot of other matters) because of this. They got a macho culture that forgets not only about women, but femenine traits as well, needless to say family. However, I do not blame Microsoft…I think this is an attitude about the whole industry in general, which is sad and ugly. As a man, I really do not know what to do or say.

    Believe it or not, we are receiving more bullying by the fact of supporting these ideas than if we were a woman.

    Despite this, here I’m, by your digital side, somehow. 🙂

  4. So sorry to hear about your experience. We have never met in person but I have attended your sessions in person and online and read your blogposts. If people like you cannot fight and can get discouraged then there is no chance for us.

  5. I am disheartened to hear of this, but I do understands as I am sure other do as well. However I would caution that silence between you and your coworkers doesn’t always mean complacency with what happened or what is currently happening. Things are always difficult to cope with especially in a workplace where professionalism is supposed to be followed. But please do not be discouraged. You are a strong vibrant woman, and you are a leader in your field.

  6. Thank you for sharing your bad experience. I hope tech community will pick you up again!

  7. Hi Jen,

    I don’t think you know me but found you through the MVP program, and follow you on twitter because you are a wonderful wealth of information. I am sadden to hear about your experience, and feel the program really dropped the ball for you. I will continue to follow you on twitter, and hope things do get better. Please continue to be the wonderful wealth of information you have been, and I hope things do get better faster. I know the community has lost a wonderful member.

  8. The same has happened to me and my friend Mitch Garvis. The difference is you have put your words in blog and we kept silent as there is no one to hear us on higher level. There is a Lobby ….

  9. I don’t know you, I don’t know exactly what happened but I really can understand you.
    When Graham Nash let The Hollies he told “When you grow and the others don’t , you must go”

  10. Dear Jen, on behalf of all white males in tech everywhere I apologize for the way we have treated you and other women in tech. I’ve had many conversations with my daughter (not working in tech but surrounded by male friends in the tech industry), and with her girlfriend (developer who was treated absolutely appallingly at her former workplace just because she is a woman) about this. We’ve come to the conclusion that some of it comes from high school and nerd culture. I’m not an MVP (but working very closely with Microsoft), I hope your action wakes some people up and some positive change can come from it.
    Again, I’m really sorry you’ve had to put up with this sort of crap – it’s like we’re living in the 1950’s all over.

  11. It’s a modern, comfortable way of setting oneself on fire publicly showing bitterness that the world is bad and some people don’t respect one’s ideals – but without doing an actual physical harm to oneself.

  12. You’ll always be on my Most Valued Person list Jen!

    One of my students pointed me to this post. And I feel really saddened by the turn of events. But I also admire your courage in standing up.

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