Geek Feminism Wiki

The zipper incident was a sexist talk at LICS 96 by Gérard Huet.  While apologies were issued at the time, this incident was highlighted at LICS 2010 as one of the best moments of the 25 year conference series.

LICS 1996 []

The Zipper data structure was invented by Gérard Huet.

He talked about it at LICS 1996, making many sexist jokes on the zipper theme, and when he said he was going to "open his zipper", one woman walked out.  Apologies were issued by the conference and the speaker, so this incident might have seemed to be closed.  Until... 

LICS 2010[]

At the 25th LICS in Edinburgh, a celebratory talk for the conference series was given.  One of the slides (page 29 of the pdf), unattributed but presumably written by Huet, states the following:

"My best memory of LICS is not 94, but 96, at the first FLoC when I gave the invited talk in front of a very large audience. I presented my Zipper data structure, at a time when political correctness was very much an issue in the US. All my jokes failed miserably, and silence became very thick. At some point I was holding the next slide in my hand, said "and now I am going to open my zipper" and this was too much for Ursula Martin who just blew her top, screamed at the top of her lungs, ran away and slammed loudly the conference room door. This made my day. After this ugly happening, none of the American participants dared to be seen next to me. Those were the days."

So not only was there an apparent retraction of the earlier apology, but the woman who had had the guts to stand up and object (Ursula Martin ) was named and shamed on the slide, and this experience labelled by a senior member of the community as his best in 25 years of the conference.