We here at Massive Phobia thought to ourselves; maybe we should take part in TechWeek Toronto. We are a mental health website, not an actual technology, but maybe we’ll meet people that can help us or have ideas of things we can eventually build. So last night we went to the opening meet and greet event, and it was a nightmare.
Our two issues had nothing to do with the Techweek Organization, but with some of the people that attended the opening night meet and greet. My colleague, whom I will not mention by name, is by all societal norms, a very good looking and charismatic individual. She has the ability to mingle like no other, and last night she was in her element. Her one job was to drum up some potential leads that may be able to help our business in the future. However, what she encountered were Young Tech Entrepreneurs that were unprofessional because she was a woman.
On three separate occasions, instead of being asked to discuss our business, or to listen about the other individuals business, for some reason, she was cut off and then asked to guess the person’s age. Why did this matter? This was not a date. Yes, this event took place at a bar, but she didn’t come here to try and be picked up. Why did the conversation turn to guess my age? Would this Tech Entrepreneur have done the same thing if he were talking to me? Not in a million years. How uncomfortable and frustrating does this make you feel when one Tech Entrepreneur’s next words are let’s do some shots?
My colleague frustratingly played along and answered the age question, by telling one Male Tech Entrepreneur he seemed like he was 23. That answer didn’t go very well as he got insulted by her comment and roared back that he was 31, making the already uncomfortable situation, more uncomfortable. What did this Tech Entrepreneur want to accomplish by this line of questioning? Whatever it was, it was obviously not well thought out.
We don’t live in Silicon Valley, but we do hear about their culture of Sexual Harassment of Woman in the workplace and that culture seems to have spilled over to our first night at Techweek Toronto. Unfortunately, these three Male related incidents were the least heated debates my colleague endured last evening.
During a pitch to a Female Tech Entrepreneur, she was stopped and told that our website was evil. This person began to lecture my colleague, saying that since we supported the use of individuals using Pharmaceuticals to help them with their mental health issues, that we were terrible people. She believed all things could be cured naturally and she was was adamant that she was right and we were wrong, as voices raised a tad over customary levels.
If you knew my colleague, you would know that she wasn’t backing down from this fight. She declared out loud “Full Disclosure! I take medication for my issues, and medications actually saved my life.” My colleague went on, telling the Tech Entrepreneur, that she had no idea what she was talking about, and that she should stop talking. The Young Tech Entrepreneur refused to stop and stated that she didn’t believe my colleague and there’s no way that she could be on Medication because of how well put together she is right now.
These comments only infuriated my colleague even more, and she asked this woman if she has any mental health issues, to which this woman replied no. At this point, without using any swear words, which was an accomplishment in its own right, my colleague told this Tech Entrepreneur that their conversation was over. She didn’t want to hear someone lecturing her about something she knew nothing about, yet had all these strong opinions about it because of what society was telling her what to think and say.
Even at Techweek Toronto, as we were presenting our mental health website, we couldn’t escape the stigma people have against medication used to help people with mental health issues, but also the opinion of what someone with mental health issues should look and act like. It was disheartening, to say the least, and just reminded us that our website has a lot of work to do.
I found out all of this information after our post event debrief and was shocked and saddened by it all. I felt compelled that I must use this specific blog category to voice our displeasure. I know this was not TechWeek Toronto’s fault. However, it did all transpire at one of their events.
And that’s why Techweek Toronto is The Unbalanced Being of the Day.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.