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Microsoft Businesses Operating Systems Social Networks Windows XBox (Games) Games Entertainment Technology

Sexism Is Still a Thing At Microsoft's GDC Party (techcrunch.com) 586

An anonymous reader writes from an article on TechCrunch: Microsoft hired a bunch of women wearing very little clothing to dance and socialize with people at the company's official Game Developers Conference after-party last night in San Francisco, Business Insider reports. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said in a statement to TechCrunch. "At Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values. It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I'm personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future." What's problematic is that Microsoft chose to throw a party that clearly caters to heterosexual men by hiring women as objects of sex.
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Sexism Is Still a Thing At Microsoft's GDC Party

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  • by ZankerH ( 1401751 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:03PM (#51727809)
    I see nothing whatsoever wrong about this arrangement.
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:19PM (#51727915) Homepage
      That's probably because you are a heterosexual man.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:20PM (#51727929)
        Or a cute woman getting paid to be pretty.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:09PM (#51728241)

        Shouldn't events be inclusive of heterosexual men? If their target demographic is 90% heterosexual men, should they not market to them?

        Lately, "inclusive" seems to mean cater to everyone but a certain group. In being PC, you're ultimately slighting one group in order to not offend another. That group you're catering to is actually being intolerant of the first group that has to change how they behave to not offend the other. Yet that first group is now potentially offended. People just need to grow up and realize everyone is different and not go forcing their ideals on others.

      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:13PM (#51728261) Journal
        That's probably because you are a heterosexual man.

        ...Much like the vast majority of both the devs and the gamers Microsoft hopes to attract at events like this?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:17PM (#51728621)

          Yeah, see, that's the thing. Microsoft, and a lot of the rest of the game industry, *is* actually trying to attract a broader audience these days. The rest of the conference has shown much broader appeal, and more diverse attendance, than ever before -- and that includes what looks like its biggest attendance ever.

          That's not who they're trying to attract at events like this, not any more.

          • by myid ( 3783581 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:08PM (#51729147)

            "broader audience", "broader appeal"

            Funny! (But I'm not sure you did that on purpose.)

        • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:59PM (#51729301) Journal

          Microsoft is hoping to attract more people in general. The fact that the present audience is so predominantly male is part of the problem that they're trying to solve.

          Let me try to make an analogy here.

          Suppose you're an owner of a pub somewhere in Mississippi in 1950s. And every day, your pub runs a blackface show. Your patrons - who are all white - love it.

          Now someone comes and tells you that this show is offensive to blacks.

          What you're saying here is basically equivalent to the owner of said pub saying, "whatever, blacks don't like beer anyway - I'm catering to my customers, and they're all white, see?". Which is flawed for many obvious reasons.

          The logical thing to do is to look at the potential customer base, and realize that those 40% of black residents who "don't drink beer" would actually drink it if you ditched the show, or replaced it with something acceptable to both audiences. And then you would attract them all as your customers.

          If, furthermore, you care not only about your bottom line, but also about abstract things such as fairness and equality, then you might say, "okay, if I drop this, I might lose some white customers who really just want to be racist, but I'm okay with that".

          In fact, you might do that even because you really only care about the bottom line, because having a public image of being non-racist will produce more customers long-term, even if it might drive some existing customers away.

          • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @07:40AM (#51730609)

            And after you stop running the blackface show and start pandering to the blacks. But no matter what you say or do they'll find something else to whine about. Say you put a bunch of them in a new movie, they'll complain that it's somehow sexist. No matter what you do to appease this crowd they just constantly whine. And the new crowd, when they come in, tells you they don't even drink beer. They aren't really drinkers. But they sit and whine about how other people drink beer constantly.

            Not only that your old customers have moved on to a new bar. Your new patreons don't actually bring more money in to the bar (since they don't seem to have actual jobs). They don't attract any new customers like them anyway since they don't seem to ever be content with what you do to pander to them, they just like complaining for the sake of complaining.

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        That's probably because you are a heterosexual man.

        That's part of the problem here. This was a party, a social event, that included dancing. If the majority of the attendees to the conference are men (because it is a male dominated industry), what are you expecting them to do, dance with other men? No one is going to want to go to a party with such a skewed gender balance. It's the same reason bars don't charge women cover quite often.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:22PM (#51727949)

      These are exactly the kinds of incidents that can happen when one doesn't strictly adhere to the Rust Code of Conduct [rust-lang.org]. I've started using the Rust Code of Conduct for everything I do in my life, online and offline. Before I make any sort of a decision or take any sort of an action, I whip out my copy of the Rust Code of Conduct and confirm that my actions will not violate it in any way. I have printed out a copy of the Rust Code of Conduct and I keep it on my person at all times. I have another copy in my car, one at my desk, and several placed around my home in easily accessible locations. The last thing I want is to be somewhere without my Rust Code of Conduct! Some people say that it's dumb or that it wastes too much time, but I think they're wrong. Complying with the Rust Code of Conduct all of the time is something that I think is critical to living life in our modern age.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Sometimes, a troll is so epic it deserves to be modded up, not down (or, better, whatever combination gives you +5 Troll). This is one of those times.

        Well played, sir, well played.

      • by Kvathe ( 3869749 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:02PM (#51729123)
        "And if someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the urge to be defensive. Just stop doing what it was they complained about and apologize. Even if you feel you were misinterpreted or unfairly accused, chances are good there was something you could've communicated better â" remember that it's your responsibility to make your fellow Rustaceans comfortable." Using these guidelines, we can safely avoid any kind of worthwhile discussion and ensure that the weight of your opinion is entirely based on how quickly you can victimize yourself!
    • by Sax Russell 5449D29A ( 4449961 ) <sax.russell@outlook.com> on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:47PM (#51728107)

      The only problem I see is lack of professionalism. Having dancers, be it male or female, at a professional event like this underestimates the intelligence of its attendees.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:59PM (#51728183)

        It was an eff'in party. What happened to people just cutting loose and having fun every once in a while?

        • It was an eff'in party.

          And if there's one thing that Microsoft is known for, it's their awesome parties. "How do you do, fellow party-goers?" [knowyourmeme.com] All good clean fun until someone throws a chair.

          But, hey, maybe we should cut Microsoft a break this time. I'm sure this is a one-time thing; after all, they've never dragged themselves down to the level of the lowest common denominator before.

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:24PM (#51728325) Journal

        The only problem I see is lack of professionalism. Having dancers, be it male or female, at a professional event like this underestimates the intelligence of its attendees.

        The dancers seemed quite professional to me, and after all they were the only ones working. In case you missed it, this was a tech conference (aka, an extended party), not a day at the office. It's all-marketing, all-sales-pitch, all-sex-appeal (mostly metaphorical sex-appeal, but still), all the time, with a thin gauze of technical briefing to fool the occasional company so that not everyone had to pay their own ride to the party.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The only problem I see is lack of professionalism. Having dancers, be it male or female, at a professional event like this underestimates the intelligence of its attendees.

        No; you have a nerd party. This goes better when everyone starts dancing and is happy. That happens quicker normally when a) some motivated people start the dancing and others join or b) lots of alcohol is drunk. Having dancers, in an appropriate controlled way, is the responsible way to go forward. This is nothing to do with "intelligence" and all to do with how to have a good party. Having more mixed dancers would probably help have everybody involved, but it's not a serious issue.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:05PM (#51727815) Homepage Journal

    Okay, I get it. It's a good idea to cater to as many possible audiences as possible.

    This isn't always possible. Especially with the combative nature of several audiences nowadays.

    But why is it okay to clearly cater to heterosexual females, or homosexual men, or homosexual females? But, cater to heterosexual men nowadays and YOU ARE WRONG AND BAD!

    I'm sorry but fuck that noise. Every product and every promotion isn't going to appeal to every demographic. DEAL WITH IT!

    Seriously, it's gotten to such an idiotic point that it's okay to be anything BUT a heterosexual male nowadays.

    • Or... here's a thought.... don't cater to sexuality at all. If people want entertainment that caters to their sexual preference they should be seeking such entertainment on their own time, and not on time that is being paid for by the company dollar.

      There's a little something called professionalism, and at a corporate event, this kind of thing is starkly lacking in it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:18PM (#51727911)

        While we're busy removing human interests that aren't directly related to the subject matter from the conference, should we ban serving food and drinks as well?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:21PM (#51727945)

        Yeah, professionalism. Bring your binder to the party, so that the bouncer will know who won't get in. Go-go dancing is professional entertainment. It's purpose is the same as hiring a band, a DJ or an MC: To get people in the mood to party, to loosen up. The only valid complaint that I would accept about this "incident" is that there was a lack of eye-fodder for the ladies. It's like people have never been to a dance club.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mark-t ( 151149 )
          My point is that there shouldn't be eye fodder for ANYBODY at a corporate event because it is tantamount to sexual harassment. The fact that it's people that are being paid to present themselves as sexual entertainment is entirely irrelevant... the sexual aspect is still being foisted upon each of those who were present, whether it was invited by them or not.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            "My point is that there shouldn't be eye fodder for ANYBODY at a corporate event because it is tantamount to sexual harassment."

            Uhhh... no, it isn't.

            That you feel harassed by the very natural human nudity (and there was no human nudity at all) is your damn problem, not anyone harassing you.

            Get with it.

          • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:14PM (#51728265) Homepage Journal

            I'm sorry, but defining anything that offends you on a personal level as "sexual harassment" is bullshit.

            If it's not your cup of tea, fine. But stop trying to impose your social, sexual, moral and other life choices on everybody else.

            You're not a special fucking snowflake. If you don't want to give such a company money, vote with your wallet and shut your fucking mouth.

        • So your solution is to basically have an orgy on stage to loosen people up.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:58PM (#51728177)

            Go-Go dancers aren't prostitutes. They are professional entertainers that deserve respect as human beings you twat.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Just so we're clear: Prostitutes are human beings too, and you could call their line of work professional entertainment as well. It's just not the same kind of entertainment. If you want to start an orgy, maybe they can help. If you want people to dance, go with the go-gos.

        • Nope, never been to a dance club. All the wrong sorts of people there, frat boys, gropers, drunks. Sort of like a Microsoft event but with less chair throwing.

      • by Chas ( 5144 )

        Yes. Because sex doesn't sell. Never has, never will.

        Bravo.

        Again, I didn't say a company SHOULDN'T do advertising to a more general audience.

        But the outrage when they choose to hit a specific demographic (that isn't suitably "alternative" enough) has gotten completely out of hand and some people need to grow up and realize that the world doesn't revolve around them and their personal preferences. AND THAT IS AN OKAY THING!

  • it's not like MS hasn't hired out for gay guys.
  • by vivaoporto ( 1064484 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:21PM (#51727935)
    Dear whiplash

    With all the improvements that are being made to this wonderful site one of the biggest flaws brought in big part by the previous owners (DICE) was the overly politicised topics that not even tangentially touches the historical major focus of this site: technology and its applications.

    It is my belief that, for the original audience of this site, some here since before the 9/11, some even from when http colon slash slash was actually pronounced when reading URLs out loud, the main drive to come and read the front page is to catch up with the latest of the technology and its applications.

    This kind of politicised subject (the same going for the U.S. elections, ISIS, the refugee crisis and general gossip) already abounds in the mainstream media and for more than a decade this used to be the place to run away from all that, to read about the subjects that are our jobs and our passions and to welcome our robotic overlords.

    Unicode, https, burying videos, all that would be secondary if this kind of article continues to be propped up in here.

    It is time for some transparency here: did this article even passed through the firehose? People actually voted for it? Maybe times changed and people here are voting for this kind of article to the front page but, otherwise, it would be a great update, maybe the greatest, to go back to the roots of "News for Nerds, stuff that matter".

    Either that or at least inform the audience that Slashdot is OK with this kind of articles, that the desired audience is a new audience with a different profile and give us the alternative to go look for an alternative.
    • by waspleg ( 316038 )

      Been here since the 90's. Completely agree.

    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:50PM (#51728127)

      Dear whiplash It is time for some transparency here: did this article even passed through the firehose? People actually voted for it? Maybe times changed and people here are voting for this kind of article to the front page but, otherwise, it would be a great update, maybe the greatest, to go back to the roots of "News for Nerds, stuff that matter".

      You raise a very good question. Who does approve these stories? It would seem that they are terribly unpopular, and most people who comment are mostly people who are simply annoyed at yeat another in a long line of stories that always condense down to all males are disgusting pigs.

      I've been here for a bit as well, and this topic is the sewer of Slashdot something I hope would have diminished after Dice gave up the ghost.

      It isn't that it is not ever news for nerds, but if anyone is foolish enough ot think that this constant reportage of whining is going to help things, they are not even wrong.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        It's Friday. It's what we do. I believe your role is to run around and call them idiots. The people you will be calling idiots will be making non-sequitur-based remarks about how all their ills are due to "SJWs." My job is to laugh at you all and throw in snarky comments. Presumably, a few people get drunk and angry and have long pissing matches about entirely off-topic subjects. Then, even drunker moderators come in and mark the place up, awarding points for originality, style, and punctuation.

        If you're no

    • by godrik ( 1287354 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:12PM (#51728253)

      Dear whiplash,

      With all the improvements that are being made to this wonderful site one of the biggest flaws remains. Can we add a feature to slashdot that can help filter out political and social issues?

      That way those that don't want to read political/social articles will stop commenting on every single one of them that it is not news for nerds.

      In the meantime, this nerd will keep on enjoying your articles without the distraction of useless comments.

      Thanks!

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Yes, please make it a filter. Some of us like these stories and want to keep reading/commenting on them. For everyone else, a filter will make them happy. Don't turn Slashdot into an MRA/anti-feminist/frat house toilet by banning this stuff, just allow the easily offended to block those stories from their feeds.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by westlake ( 615356 )

      It is my belief that, for the original audience of this site, some here since before the 9/11, some even from when http colon slash slash was actually pronounced when reading URLs out loud, the main drive to come and read the front page is to catch up with the latest of the technology and its applications.

      Proof once again of the old adage that some people grow up while others merely grow older.

      The evolution of technology is defined by those are affected by it and by those who govern its use. Gender issues in tech are not out of bounds for discussion here, Perpetuating the geek stereotypes of the nineties does not insure the future of Slashdot.

  • Just hire 50% genetic females and 50% male cross-dressers, and don't anybody who is who. Technically it would then be balanced hiring. Clothes are just clothes, a costume.

  • I have heard that homosexual men has very similar brain responses to scantily clad women as do their heterosexual peers. So the scantily clad women are not their just for the heterosexual men and lesbians, scantily clad women in fact have universal appeal and are just all round good at helping to sell your products to any and all demographics.

  • I'm a lesbian trapped in a mans body! So those ladies would appeal to me regardless.
  • What's problematic is that Microsoft chose to throw a party that clearly caters to heterosexual men by hiring women as objects of sex.

    Oh, right, thanks for adding that, because I was having such great difficulty working it out from the rest of the summary.

  • Ending the week with a positive story on Microsoft.
  • Even as a gay man, I enjoy scantily clad female dancers (as well as scantily clad models in art). So, I hope that that kind of "sexism" won't end.
  • by emorris ( 592502 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:55PM (#51728483)
    I really think a lot of people are missing the point here. It's not that scantily clad sexy women are sexist per se, it's that this was a party that employees of a company were presumably encouraged to attend as well as an event showcasing the company's public face. In that environment, everyone should feel comfortable. If one wants to go to a strip club or club where there are go-go dancers, etc., that is their business and they can make that choice.
    • by tom229 ( 1640685 )
      No, no you're still missing the point. The world has lost its politically correct mind. If this trend continues every generation will be leaving the world less free, more uptight, and more neurotic than they found it. The end result of this incessant desire to extend individual rights to never being offended or feeling uncomfortable is not going to be a good thing for future generations.
    • If one wants to go to a strip club or club where there are go-go dancers, etc., that is their business and they can make that choice.

      Tell me about it. I didn't want to go to the Microsoft party either, but they sent me an invite a year ago, then kept reminding me over and over again even after I declined. I moved desks in hope they wouldn't find me but an accidental interaction with the windows update team caused me to start getting all the invites again. Then the other day I woke up drunk with pictures of me with barely dressed girls all around clearly attending a party I didn't want to go to.

      Why would Microsoft make me go when I declin

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:57PM (#51728839)

    Fuck Microsoft for caving and apologizing. Fuck the media for continuing to amplify the voices of a minority who always take offense to everything in a never ending pursuit of fostering controversy and whoring attention for hits and views.

    Just because you object to something doesn't grant you the right to ruin it for others who disagree with you.

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