Involving women in the community - Lynn Root

Tags: django, djangocon

Lynn’s the founder of the San Francisco chapter of PyLadies.

She considers herself a noob and only started programming pretty recently. She’s from an economics background. A big thing in econometrics is the difference between correlation and causation. Few women in IT, what is cause and what is correlation? She mentioned an xkcd cartoon:

Don’t see it as an effort to “target women”, but more as an education challenge: there are many women that would want to learn programming and that could join in the python and django community. (And not only women.)

She requested comments and suggestions from the room, which made up the rest of the talk.

  • Watch out with targeting women specifically. You don’t want to segregate them as a special group in that well-intended way.

  • Hurray for employing newbies, man or woman. They can become experienced programmers over time! Take the risk if it looks like they can and want to learn.

  • Stereotypes, stereotypes, more stereotypes. Oh, and assumptions. One person even suggested that everybody should shout “bullshit” the moment anybody said “I think men…” or “I think women…” in the question.

  • Is this the right place/platform to discuss this? “Can I say anything right here? Whatever I say, I’ll step on somebody’s toes. It doesn’t give me any positive vibe towards a solution.”

    Personal comment: yep, this is hard to talk about. You have to watch what you say sooo much. Don’t generalize. Don’t be too specific. You either agree with a question or cringe when you have to listen to someone. You try to be polite and non-offensive in your question, but that effort often means it doesn’t come out exactly right…

  • Someone said she got a lot of support from a simple woman-only meeting at pycon 2010. That’s probably the reason she’s in the python community now! So those kind of meetings can be helpful.

  • “I’m ashamed of my fellow Django male community members, that there’s apparently a problem.” (Note: ehm, what? Now you’re shaming each and every well-behaved male django programmer in the room, including me?)

To close off a very good suggestion:

  • A simple thing everyone can do: don’t laugh about the kitchen jokes. Just don’t laugh. “Women belong in the kitchen”. “Fetch me a sandwich”. Those kinds of jokes.

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About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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