I didn’t see Danese Cooper‘s talk "Why Whinging Doesn’t Work" but the title has really been bothering me. I almost titled this post "stop telling me to stop whining!"
I should start by saying I have never complained about my career in technology. (And I’m sure Danese wasn’t thinking about me personally when she wrote her title!) To the contrary, I feel like I’ve lived a charmed life in technology. Not only have I had very few negative experiences but they’ve been outweighed ten times by all the positive ones. And as I tried to point out in my lightening talk, in every negative gender related experience I’ve had, it’s always been guys who’ve jumped in to straighten things out.
I really credit the people in technology for my great experience. It started in college with the guys in the lab (we didn’t have Linux on a laptop), the graduate students I met at happy hour, and the professors who spent hours helping me, asked my opinion and took my feedback seriously. (To be fair, I should note that some of the exact same people gave my college roommate a very different experience. She left computer science, but no worries. She got a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT and now balances a career in technology with not one, but three, toddlers. I’m in awe.)
So I’m not whining about my experience as a women in open source – it’s been great – but I talk about women in technology all the time to try to get more women in open source. Think about the best developers you know, those superstars that you admire, the ones whose code and ideas you use every day … Now imagine there were twice as many of them. That’s what bringing more women into technology could do.
We’re making good progress – there were a lot of amazing women at OSCON – but there’s still a long ways to go – I was the only woman at the GNOME mobile meeting.
Now I do think we are usually talking to the wrong crowd. If I had told the GNOME mobile meeting guys, "hey, there’s no women here" they would have gone "yeah, we know." We need to be out talking to those women, and girls, who might join us but haven’t yet.