January 10, 2010, 8:15 PM — When I first started programming in high school at age 15 (on a mainframe), I was one of only two or three girls in the class of perhaps 20 students. At the time, I thought that was a pretty good ratio. God knows that I never lacked for a date. Ever since then, however, I've been doing my best to encourage more women to get into the field. Not because I believe that the computer industry arbitrarily needs to have a one-to-one ratio, but because I love computing so very much and I want to share that excitement. My enthusiasm extends to the open source community as well.
Naturally, I'm dismayed when I read about bigotry towards participants in the computing community, whether it's because of our body plumbing or other dumb reasons. But rather than whine I'd prefer to give practical suggestions to women on how they can get involved. This is a short-and-sweet blog post meant to be little more than link salad, sharing some resources for women in IT and in open source, each of which I've personally found cool or useful.
- The Geek Feminism Calendar shows upcoming events of interest to geek feminists, both both women-centric events, and events that are seeking women speakers. It's currently a little empty, but perhaps with a bit more awareness we can fix that.
- GeekSpeaker is a free resource site which aims to connect tech women speakers with event organizers. We sometimes complain that few women stand at the podium, and conference organizers respond that few women send in proposals. I like the premise of this site: connect the two groups.
- The National Center for Women & IT has a resources page with information and statistics on girls' and women's participation in computing (in general, not just in open source or programming), as well as practices and tools for increasing participation.
- There are several online communities and e-mail lists that are geared towards or restricted to women. Probably the oldest of these is Systers, which is for women in any area of IT, but you can also find more granular communities such as DevChix for developers, Women in Free Software, Debian Women, Ubuntu Women, Gnome women, and Wise Women for web design and development.
- If you're interested in finding other women interested in computing, you may like the FOSS Women planet, an aggregation of blog posts from women in the community (including this one). You'll also find more women bloggers in a post I wrote elsewhere, particularly in the comments.
As an aside: If you're a woman involved in open source and you don't think you could possibly be a speaker at a conference, I urge you to read Anna Martelli Ravenscroft's Why Women Don't Talk Enough; hopefully it'll make you less shy about stepping forward.
That's just a start, though; I'm sure that I've forgotten dozens of other useful links. If you add your own suggestions in the comments, we can make this page a continuing resource!
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