Selena Deckelmann's blog

Women Who Code - where are they?

posted on Apr 02, 2008
tags: brenda wallace coding foss gender mentorship postgres software twitterpolls women
categories: gender open source pgconference postgres postgresql women womenintech

[ I was working on a blog post about the Women In Open Source roundtable I ran, and then Brenda Wallace tweeted: "it seems reasonably easy 2 get women involved in opensource documentation, ui design, and even management. Why is it hard 2 get women coding?" Here's my longer response, mostly with ideas I got from the roundtable. ]

I ran a panel discussion about Women in Open Source at the PostgreSQL Conference East (last weekend). I talked about all the conference events that I'd seen in the last 1-2 years specific to women, and a pair of researchers talked about communication patterns among women on the KDE women's list. Then we had a 2 hour discussion with the 10 people in attendance.

Three issues that stuck with me from the discussion were:

Some or all of these issues can probably be linked to the experience of other minority groups.

As far as "what we can do" -- I think we need to work environments more humane and accepting of people who have children. There's a bit of anti-child culture in some high tech circles, and my personal feeling is that this will continue to turn women away.

I also think we need more mentorship! Women need to mentor women, and men need to mentor women. I think training a group of men on how to mentor women would be greatly beneficial -- especially if those men-mentors got some kind of seal of approval at the end of their mentorship bootcamp.

There's always a tension when men mentor women, and maybe if it was a little more organized and some rules were set -- like no using the mentorship program as a personal dating service -- it might work better than the ad hoc mentorship stuff we have right now.

Less formal than GSOC, but more formal than just contacting people on a mailing list.


Have some feedback? Corrections? Ideas for other posts? Contact me @selenamarie.