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Linkedin accused of sexism after removing ads featuring female web developers

They were too attractive to be real engineers, social network claimed
Mon Aug 05 2013, 14:08
This is one of the images that got removed by Linkedin

PROFESSIONAL SOCIAL NETWORK Linkedin has had to repost a number of advertisements on its website after it pulled them for listing female web developers that the firm considered too attractive to be real-life professionals.

The networking website came under fire after networking development firm Toptal posted a series of adverts featuring male and female staff on Linkedin aimed at attracting new employees to the web engineering sector.

The ads were removed soon after by Linkedin, which requested that Toptal use images that "related to the product".

Toptal CEO Tasu Du Val lashed out at Linkedin, claiming that the request was "extreme sexism" on the part of the firm to see it unlikely that his firm's female engineers would be attractive.

"Today was a disappointing day at Toptal. We saw extreme sexism within the tech community, from an industry leader and advertising partner that we work with quite extensively: Linkedin," Du Val wrote in a blog post entitled "In Defence of Female Engineers".

"We've taken extremely professional photos of both men and women who are part of the Toptal network and made sure they looked sharp, well dressed and happy; however, Linkedin's internal advertising's staff completely disagrees that they both look sharp, well dressed and happy.

"Actually, they believe, with 100 percent certainty, that the women in our advertisements are offensive and harmful to their user base. To me, this is unbelievable."

According to Du Val, Linkedin explained its removal of the images by claiming that Linkedin members had complained about the images Toptal was using.

The CEO explained in his blog that the engineers featured are real web developers with whom the firm had signed contracts.

"And even if they were only stock photography, who cares? The point is, they're perfectly fine and represent normal professional people. Our male versions are no different. They're male engineers, smiling, some with glasses, some without; the whole idea Linkedin had was just ridiculous," he raged.

In a comment, Linkedin told us that the matter was a mix up caused by a mistake by its customer services team.

"While Customer Service was going through a standard process of reviewing Linkedin ads, Toptal's ads were rejected in error. We have taken the necessary measures to approve the previously rejected ads, and Toptal can now run them on our platform as intended."

Readers of Du Val's blog, however, disagreed with the initial removal of the ads.

One reader named "whatever" commented, "Linkedin appears to be engaging in slut-shaming, and nerd oppression because no female engineer could look good. Engineers must be slide rule nerds!"

At the same time some also sided with Linkedin, despite criticising the website for initially blocking the ads.

One commentor wrote, "I can somewhat see why they were rejected. What's with the bra strap showing? How does that help emphasize her abilities as a developer?

"The images are a bit suggestive and I would like to kindly turn the tables and ask you why you felt you needed to portray these women in such a sexually suggestive light [rather] than a professional light." µ


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