The secret to my success in a field of men? All my friends. My guy friends.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks talking about why we have so few women in open source and web development and how to encourage more women to join. (I even got to spend an awesome afternoon with a bunch of girls. I was supposed to be mentoring them but they were already Python game developers and small business owners – at the ages of 10 and 15!)
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am in this field because I really like the people. And 95% of those people are men and I appreciate them. I appreciate all the help they’ve given me whether they knew they were helping or not!
So I decided it’s time to thank all the men that I appreciate, who have helped me in my interests and my career.
First, there’s my dad. He not only told me I could do whatever I wanted to do, but promised to make sure I had the opportunities. I think he’s always been secretly disappointed I didn’t want to play football.
To my grandpa. He told me it was his sandbox, so I could play in it. He taught me how to defend my right to participate with out a leg to stand on — it wasn’t his sandbox. (And to Chris who taught me how to play toy soldiers in that sandbox. I still consider that to be one of the most boring games I know but it taught me how to steer the game or the conversation in the direction I wanted it to go.)
To my uncle John who saved all his computer magazines. He asked me once if I wanted to organize conferences. I stand by my firm answer of no, you’d have to be crazy. (But I do help out occasionally!)
To my uncle Larry who used to save me boxes of science fiction books. Boxes! Boxes of science fiction books! When you live in Spain and can’t get them that was a treasure.
To my great uncle Ted who was more delighted than I was when I finally managed to beat him in a game of cards.
To my boyfriend Frank who projects complete confidence that I can do anything. Except mow the lawn. But he is willing to get in a small boat in a big ocean with me. And he listens to my excited stories and my gripes and promises to beat up anyone who bothers me. I know he’s got my back.
And a whole bunch more people that I’ve talked to on IRC, IM, in hallways, over lunch or a beer, … I’m not leaving you out. But I do have to get back to work at some point.
Thanks to all of you. For all the conversations, for all the ideas you’ve shared, ideas you’ve given me feedback on, questions you’ve answered, trust you’ve shown, … I thank you. Hopefully I am successful in returning the favor or passing it on because I think it’s what makes our communities great. It’s what will continue to bring more men and more women to our communities.
That’s why I’m part of these free and open source software communities and why I’ve chosen this career path. For the people in the communities and the way we are making the world a better place together.
And I love the 5% that are women too! But I feel like I owe the guys a special thank you as we don’t often mention how encouraging and helpful they are.