What happens when you tell your story about gender discrimination?
Personal Rants

What happens when you tell your story about gender discrimination?

Tessa Kriesel
Tessa Kriesel

Nothing. Except for a lot of sadness, a lot of regret and a lot of tears.

I spoke to an attorney today and they assured me I have a case, but the cost alone for attorney fees will cripple my existence. I left Pantheon in July of 2019, I immediately moved to CircleCI, where I also witnessed a toxic white dude tell me that he defends women in tech and that he has been in a physical fight to defend a woman. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Why would you initiate physical recourse to defend a women in tech? You are just intensifying the problem with gender discrimination. (I did not share this to put any light on CircleCI—this isn't about them).

So I left CircleCI too. I couldn't handle it. How in the world can one of the strongest people I know suck so bad at advocating for themselves. Yes, I am calling myself one of the strongest people I know. I have been through more heartache and pain, some self-inflicted, than most people I know and I still keep fighting. I still keep a smile on my face. I still treat people kindly and fairly every chance I get. I even down-played how awful my manager really was to me in my resignation letter, why did I do this? Why didn't I tell him that this was ALL his fault. He failed me. I reported my coworker time and time again and time and time again it was ignored. Why did I care if he lost his job? He should have lost his job. I cared about him as a person and I thought he was a good person and never meant to hurt me. Stupid. I was stupid.

After leaving CircleCI, I started a business that I would consider a failure. I thought I knew what my offerings were, I thought I knew how to provide helpful resources for my clients, but it never felt right, on both sides I think. I never had enough clients to cover my bills. So from October 2019 (after leaving CircleCI) until I finally landed my role at Twitter in March 2020, I was bleeding money. I was making nothing compared to what I needed to cover bills and I started taking out loans and moving money to ensure we didn't lose our home, and our life. I'm still trying to catch up 6 months into my role at Twitter. It was/is bad and I never wanted to fully admit this failure to anyone.

At the end of the day, I wasn't emotionally ready for ANYTHING, let alone another job or to start a business. Being the main provider for my family, I knew I couldn't give up. I knew I HAD to figure life out and move on. I tried to stay positive externally, but inside I was dying—emotionally. Which made the stress and pressure a million times worse.

Why is it that these toxic men can treat me like complete garbage and continue to live their lives without any recourse, pain or sadness in return? Why am I the one STILL dealing with their neglect and poor treatment? Why am I the one who almost lost their home and not them? WHY?! Please can someone just tell me why?!

Additional context

Blog post to my coworker, written when I left Pantheon: https://www.tessakriesel.com/dear-toxic-person/

My story of my time at Pantheon: https://twitter.com/tessak22/status/1309517555556638720?s=20

I am so incredibly thankful for my role and team at Twitter. No company is perfect, but they put people first and it's clear in their values and their onboarding training. Pantheon, you could learn a deep lesson here and from Twitter on how you SHOULD behave.

If I have ever helped you in any way, please reach out to me now. I need validation. I need to know the truth. Was I in the wrong? What did I do wrong? What should have I done? What do I do now with no money for an attorney and a desire to make every tech company who has allowed this behavior to suffer & correct their behavior? I want other women to see that speaking up will help, but my current story can't do that.


A lost, sorta broken person who is ready to just crawl in a hole and disappear for eternity.