Richard Jones' Log: Women in IT article in The Age

Wed, 21 Mar 2007

Rachel's already mentioned this but I though it would be worth reprinting her words here to reach a broader audience:

Sarah Stokely has an article in today's Age about the formation of the Australian chapter of Linuxchix (who have a very cool logo). Reference is made to the unfortunate "softporn incident" of last year's Open Source Developers' Conference, so, as chair, Richard is quoted. To get the context of the apparently nonsensical quote you'll have to go to the original source.

I'll add that I attended an excellent talk on the same subject at the recent PyCon in Dallas presented by Anna Ravenscroft. That talk was eye-opening because although Anna had done quite a lot of research into the topic, the conclusion was that there was no single reason you point at to say "that's why there's less women in IT". Culture seemed to play the biggest role in various forms. My memory is fading, but I recall her mentioning problems with society at large, the culture of classrooms, of IT workplaces, of IT user groups and of IT as a "priesthood.

Anna and someone else at the talk mentioned a specific book that I've lost the name of in the time between the conference and getting home. I'd really like to try to find it ... this is a long shot but does anyone recall the title?

Comment by Diane Trout on Wed, 21 Mar 2007

Anna Ravenscroft also mentioned that if you were in a position to hire someone and wanted to hire more women--hide the names on the resumes.

Comment by amk on Wed, 21 Mar 2007

I didn't attend Anna's talk, but might the book have been "Unlocking the Clubhouse"?

Comment by anthony baxter on Wed, 21 Mar 2007

The comment got butchered in subediting, and has been fixed in the online version - I believe they're running a correction in the print paper as well.

(no really - the quote was fine in the version that went off to the age)

Comment by Evelyn Mitchell on Fri, 30 Mar 2007

The book Anna mentioned was "Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing" by Margolis and Fisher.

Anna had a list of a lot of positive things to do to encourage more women in computing. My rough notes from her talk are:

"Complexity is not a necessary component of programming"

"mask the names on resumes before you review them, to eliminate a source of bias"

"offer reasonable work hours"

"publicize the successes of women"

"offer success opportunities early to improve self-efficacy and confidence - remove gatekeeper courses"

"IT courses are harder than the classes to become a surgeon - publicize women who succeed in passing your classes"

"Create real needs to use the tools - remove the priesthood aspect"

"Positive role models make a huge difference"

"Passion, not obsession"

"Doctors have lives outside medicine, why don't geeks?"

"Create bridges into the profession from related jobs"

"write interesting job descriptions, not Lawyer+CPA+Graphic designer"

It was a motivating, exciting and practical talk. I'm glad I was able to attend it.