Women + Tech - Yay

@soycamo (Cameron) facilitating

Cameron's Gramma is proud of her. The Gramma checklist:

  • graduated high school
  • graduated college
  • brave enough to move to new town
  • got into tech
  • didn't get pregnant.


Session prompted by incident at Rails Conference where porn was used in a technical presentation.

Kroeber theory: people are very smart, but are often put in situations where they can't use or share their genius.

Benefit of diversity is not just diversity, it's diversity of ideas.

Looking for ways to bring more women into tech.

“Girls in Technology” group, started up a couple of months ago:


Audrey shares: DevChix group: http://devchix.org/

Mailing list is a great resource for women developers. A couple of women in SF are starting up Ruby on Rails workships for women (men can come if they bring a woman who wants to learn Rails).

Audrey and Christie have been discussing doing something like that here.

Providing childcare can also be a help.

Cameron would like to host youth events at Hackerspace.

How do people feel about positive discrimination (affirmative action)?

Example: London BarCamp reserved 15% of tickets for people who had never been to a BarCamp before.

Addie: discussions about recruiting women are often met with “we don't want to water down our standards.” Need to get people to unravel that and get people considering all the skills they are hiring for.

Tara: it's not just misogynist men holding women back; there are social pressures. “Positive discrimination” seems to assume that everyone is coming from a level playing field.

Michelle: Affirmative action is somethat works right away, but we also want to encourage young girls to explore technology.

Igal: Concerned that requiring a certain percentage of women would be putting up barriers, rather than tearing them down. Would like to change values, helping prove factually that diverse perspectives and skills are important and valuable, and are not a “watered down” version of traditional values.

Michael: works for a small company – 11 people, two are men. (Doesn't think there's been a specific attempt to hire women.) Notices a difference in confidence and interaction. Definitely some is personality based.

Cameron: we need to empower our young women. Not in an aggressive way, but in a super awesome way.

We seem to have 25-30% women at that BarCamp; is this because of the DIY culture?

Audrey: there have been specific efforts in the Portland Tech Community to invite and encourage women.

Selena: There's going to be a lot of experimentation in trying to encourage more women to participate. Some will succeed and some will fail. It's important that people report on these things and how they work out.

Dawn: having women in leadership roles in the community and having them mentor other women to take over makes a big difference.

Tara; men and women are taught to have different communication styles. Doesn't necessarily reflect confidence level. (Tara works in social sciences, more women than men in the office.) We need to understand different styles, not teach women to adopt a different styles.

Addie: Feel a barrier to entry in terms of communication styles. Her personality is very open and candid; has been socialized as a woman to express doubt. So, her instinct is to say “dude, I feel very confused (or scared, or intimidated) about this,” which is just not acceptable in the tech culture.

Homework assignment to those who blog: Addie is worried about internet culture and its effect on women in technology. We need to be able to put this voice out. Started blog, feels insecure about sharing things that maybe she “should” have learned earlier. Need a big spine to write and get comments from douchebags.

Betsy: has a 10-year-old daughter who is fearless. Betsy feels her job is to keep her fearless. How do we give our young girls a sense of confidence?

Michelle: remembers losing that as a young girl. Issue was not knowing that it was what you think yourself that matters.

Cameron: thinks pair mentoring for kids works well – but not forcing kids into the mentoring role.

Amy: thinks middle/high-school girls have to choose between doing technology and fitting in. Audrey and Amy both were unable to fit in anyway.

Igal: communication issues. There's a business/technology culture where no matter how uncertain you are, you have to sound certain. This is a huge problem. When hiring, he tries to see how hard he has to push people to say “I don't know.” Don't know how to change this culture.

Selena: Nat Torkington gave a great talk at OSCON last year about introducing Lego Mindstorms to kids.

1gj.txt · Last modified: 2009/10/26 07:08 by akfarrell