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Ecole Polytechnique Montreal massacre Twenty-Five Years Later

Stashed in: Women, History of Tech!, XX, History

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"The École Polytechnique shootings are as much a part of the history of women in technology as Ada Lovelace or Grace Hopper."

This part of the tiny letter really hit me.

I would like nothing better than to forget the events at the École Polytechnique, for it to be a distant faded memory from a darker time. But 2014 brought us the toxic efflorescence of harassment and threats that was GamerGate. The anonymous e-mail that prevented Anita Sarkeesian from speaking at Utah State University threatened, in part, that a 'Montreal Massacre style attack [would] be carried out'. And 2014 also brought us the Isla Vista killings: someone who wasn't even born in 1989 went to a sorority house with the deliberate intention of killing women who, like the Montreal engineering students, had something the shooter felt he deserved to have. It wasn't until I consciously registered the parallels that I realized why I had found myself unable to stop crying when I learned about it.

There's often a sense that women in the tech world make a big deal out of small events. But the myriad ways in which they are told their presence is illegitimate, that tells them that they don't belong, is a constant pressure pushing them towards leaving technology (and game journalism, and the public sphere). In particular, when women in technology also have public voices, as with Anita Sarkeesian or Brianna Wu or Kathy Sierra, the pressure can be—is often intended to be—crushing.

I don’t think being a woman in technology is worth dying for, but I learned early that some men think it’s worth killing for. 

Incredibly powerful look back 25 years later by a female journalist who now concludes she helped turn the victims into "Sleeping Beauties" instead of emphasizing their groundbreaking public lives in technology.

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