The beauty of the Systers community is a that it gives us a chance to ask questions that we can’t find answers to among our circle of friends or family, a chance to consult with women who have a lot more experience in the job market and as technical women, and an opportunity to discuss issues that we fear might be only to do with us personally but might just apply to all women in technical fields.
The issue of gender imbalance in STEM fields is not new. For a wonderful look at the women that went before us, one of the Systers shared an amazing blog about grandmothers who are/were remarkable scientists and technologists.
There was a recent discussion on Systers about comments from Christos Papadimitrou. I wont go into whether or not he is right or wrong, which is a topic that received a bit of flaming. What I want to discuss is a comment from Susan Landau, a syster and someone who I always enjoy hearing when she talks at the Grace Hopper Conference.
We are so pleased that Systers was accepted into GSoC (Google Summer of Code) 2013 as a Mentoring Organization. We have participated as a mentoring organization for the past few years and every year we are excited to have a chance to help more women learn Python, coding practices and collaborate with other techies in open source. GSoC is an excellent opportunity for students to get exposed to open source languages and technologies, the various open source communities and network/collaborate with great developers.
I talked to one of my male friends who also studied Computer Science and he point blank told me to tell Microsoft “NO”. He said “if they didn’t want you for the Software Engineer position, then you really shouldn’t accept it.” Other friends were telling me the same thing that maybe Microsoft wasn’t going to be a good fit. But why not? I really had to reflect on my experiences and what I have been capable of doing. The fact that Microsoft saw my potential made me feel confident in my skills and willingness to take on new challenges.
When I was in college a friend who was a semester ahead of me and brilliant told me that she was dropping out of Computer Science. She’d decided that she wanted to major in Math. And, when I asked why, she said that it was just easier.
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We have a responsibility to the next generation of techies, girls and boys, who are excited about technology and coding! What kind of tech community will they find in 10 years? What kind of example are we setting for them?
Happy women’s history month. How about we celebrate this special time of the year by changing the focus of the recent firestorm topic in the tech community centered around Adria Richards? We as a community must evaluate what this incident means through the lens of the personas that it affects in our tech community, then perhaps we can agree on a plan to fix it.
Today is International Women’s Day and despite these sobering facts that have been popping up on my social media feeds, I’m still feeling hopeful: