Twitter has apologized for a fraternity-themed happy hour it threw at its headquarters in San Francisco this week that many have regarded as ill-timed given the company's recent gender discrimination lawsuit and other greater concerns about diversity in Silicon Valley that have been discussed prominently in the media as of late.
Photos of the party circulated on social media on Tuesday, along with the hashtag #brogrammers. The party featured staples of college frat parties: red solo cups, a beer pong table, kegs, and a sign welcoming employees to the "Twitter Frat House." The company-funded event was criticized by those who see it as a sign of gender discrimination complaints falling on deaf ears.
Twitter faces a potential class action lawsuit filed in March by Tina Huang, a former engineer for the company, who says that Twitter's internal promotion system is overly opaque, leading to a dearth of women in key supervisory roles. Mashable published Huang's "lawsuitlisticle," a list of ten reasons as cited in court papers that make Twitter's promotion system biased, among them: "reliance upon subjective, gender-based and/or arbitrary criteria...in making promotion decisions" and "retaliating against female employees who complain of unequal treatment."
Jim Prosser, spokesperson for Twitter, apologized on behalf of the company:
"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. We've had discussions internally with the organizing team, and they recognize that this theme was ill-chosen."
In a report last year, Twitter released what Mother Jones called "embarrassing" diversity statistics. "Twitter actually lags far behind its peers on some key measures," they wrote. "For instance, only 1 out of every 10 Twitter tech employees is a woman." Overall, women represent 30 percent of the company.