#Oops: Twitter throws a frat party amidst tech’s gender problem

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Global Tech Women

On Tuesday, Twitter hosted an internal happy hour at its San Francisco headquarters and has since come under fire for the event’s unbefitting theme—a frat party. Giving the Silicon Valley term “brogrammer” some serious validation, the party included a keg, a Twitter-branded beer pong table, and red Solo cup decor.

Photos of the party quickly emerged on social media, with the advocacy group, Global Women in Tech, broadcasting an image of the party on Twitter later in the day.

The company promptly apologized for the inappropriately-themed celebration in a statement to Fusion.

“This social event organized by one team was in poor taste at best, and not reflective of the culture we are building here at Twitter,” Jim Prosser, a Twitter spokesperson, said in the statement.

“We’ve had discussions internally with the organizing team, and they recognize that this theme was ill-chosen.”

However, Twitter shouldn’t apologize for throwing a happy hour that reflects the boys club nature of the company’s workplace, but for the non-diverse makeup of the workplace itself.

Last year, Twitter shared a statement on the company’s ethnic and gender diversity data. The data revealed that men comprise 70 percent of Twitter’s work force, which is around the average for top tech companies. This is confirmation that diversity is an outstanding problem in tech. In the statement, Janet Van Huysee, VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Twitter, promised that the company was committed to becoming more diverse and inclusive in its work environment.

“It makes good business sense that Twitter employees are representative of the vast and varied backgrounds of our users around the world. We also know that it makes good business sense to be more diverse as a workforce – research shows that more diverse teams make better decisions, and companies with women in leadership roles produce better financial results,” Van Huysee said.

But as self-proclaimed advocates for progression and equality, it is surprising that Twitter’s employees so easily overlooked the implications of having a frat-themed party, especially when the reputation of real fraternities haven’t had the greatest year.

At a time where sexism is everywhere in the male-dominated tech community, this was yet another blow to the ongoing battle for gender equality in the industry. To top it off, Twitter is currently in the midst of a gender-discrimination lawsuit in which Tina Huang, a software engineer and former Twitter employee, accused Twitter of awarding promotions to men more often than to women.

In Van Huysee’s 2014 statement, titled “Building a Twitter we can be proud of,” she states that the company has “a lot of work to do.” While this sentiment still pertains to Twitter’s company culture in 2015, especially in light of this week’s events, hopefully this step in the wrong direction will catalyze more steps towards diversity and inclusion at leading tech companies like Twitter.

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