In recent years, referring to a tech company’s culture as “fratty” has become easy shorthand to describe Silicon Valley’s gender disparities, and bemoan the male-dominated culture that results.
On Tuesday, Twitter made the metaphor literal, hosting a frat-themed party for one team’s internal happy hour in San Francisco.
The gathering included details like a Twitter-branded beer pong set-up, a keg and a sign in faux-Greek lettering that read “Twitter Frat House.”
Jim Prosser, a spokesperson for Twitter, confirmed that the company-funded frat party had taken place, and issued an apology.
“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,” Prosser said. “We’ve had discussions internally with the organizing team, and they recognize that this theme was ill-chosen.”
A photo of the party first popped up Tuesday evening on Twitter and was quickly deleted by the female Twitter employee who posted it, but the photo had already been posted to the Global Women in Tech Facebook group. A source familiar with the matter said that the party was for Twitter’s revenue team.
Twitter is in the midst of a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by Tina Huang, a female software engineer who claims that the company’s promotion process unfairly favors men and is seeking a class action certification. Internal employee diversity numbers that Twitter released last year showed that only 10 percent of the company’s tech employees were women. Overall, women made up 30 percent of employees and 21 percent of those in leadership positions. Huang’s lawsuit alleged that the situation at Twitter is even worse, with every top level principal and senior staff engineer position during her tenure filled by a man.
Holding a frat-themed event at any tech company would be in poor taste, but at Twitter, it’s an especially bad look.