GitHub boss quits after sexual harassment scandal

Tom Preston-Werner, a co-founder and former chief executive of GitHub has quit after an investigation into gender-based harassment cleared him of doing anything illegal practices but found evidence of errors of judgement.

Last month, Julie Ann Horvath, a software designer and developer at GitHub, publicly resigned, saying there was a culture of disrespect and intimidation of women at the company.

According to the New York Times, she claimed that there was mistreatment and bullying by Preston-Warner and his wife, who was not a GitHub employee. Horvath was the only female developer at GitHub when she was hired, and just two percent of people in the open-source software field are women.

Horvath’s resignation attracted much attention in the tech community, as an example of the sexism and alpha-male culture in the tech business.

Chris Wanstrath, GitHub’s chief executive and a co-founder, wrote in a blog post earlier this week that the company had conducted an investigation into the claims and found no evidence to support the claims against Tom and his wife of sexual or gender-based harassment or retaliation, or of a sexist or hostile work environment.

However, the investigator did find evidence of mistakes and errors of judgment. He added that GitHub was starting initiatives led by employees and the human resources department to try to make it a more inclusive workplace and to ensure that employee concerns were dealt with appropriately.

Horvath responded to the announcement on Twitter said that “Bullying someone into quitting: Illegal,” “Pushing women with strong opinions out of your company because they disagree with you is wrong” and “Leaving GitHub was the best decision of my life”.

Preston-Werner admitted that he “made mistakes” but added: “We are prepared to fight any further false claims on this matter to the full extent of the law.”

Horvath started a program called Passion Projects, at which a technical woman presents her work in San Francisco each month. GitHub had sponsored the project but signed it over to Horvath when she quit. She is restarting it within a new organisation called Playing with Possibility and expanding to New York and Chicago.