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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Get Deeply Geeky

“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.” ~Lloyd Alexander

Brought to you by:
Laura Scott
Miriam Verburg
Nancy White
Melanie Swan

Preface: I don’t do complicated. I don’t do extensive. It makes me nervous and I break out in hives in that little crook where my arm bends and just…no. That said, I’ve been told – ok, warned – that this will be a complicated session. I’m itchy already.

(Deep breaths)

But! It’s about Gender. I feel very strongly about gender and gender identity and I’ve researched it learned about it and I think all will be well. And when I groveled to be let into Blogher because it was life or death the first thing I did was to exclaim my genuine excitement for women doing things for other women. Flippin’ fantastic.
I wish I could say more but, it’s too much, and I am weak. Or, maybe I just have no idea.

Session:

Once again I’m graced by the presence of Miriam Verburg who is also once again, doing the Make the Audience do work thing and asking how many of the women in the room use open sourcing. Also, how many women in the room are ‘geeks’. The conversation is speckled with points of how to get women involved within tech communities.

The hardest part for me right now is once again I am at a loss. I am not a geek (as we all so sadly saw yesterday) nor am I tech savvy in any sense of the word. So again, for me, it’s all about the absorption and then trying to put it here in a way for all to understand.

It is once again apparent that there is a lack of female representation in the tech community. The women that are apart of that community are ridiculously smart and do know what they are talking about. It’s developing a sense of community and bringing these much sought after women so that they see that they are not alone. As cliché as it sounds, it’s the absolute truth.

One of the panelists just gave a possible reason for why there are so few women in the tech world, which is because of those doing the hiring. Instead women are met with various stereotypes that hinder their progress in the tech field. The remedy? Besides getting angry and bitchy is to stick to your guns and start your own company.

(can I just say that even though all of the sessions are panelist driven they all end up being audience driven, which is perhaps one of the most important and best things to see at this conference)

So, what are the solutions?

If you are a woman in a position and you feel that there is a glass ceiling. Get out. In my personal opinion that seems easier than it actually may be. But also to network, network, network. As it isn't just a tech question, but it's a general women in the workforce question.

Some say that there is no actual glass ceiling but instead being in a situation where women need to ask for money while still keeping their feminine personality. It shouldn't be seen as uncharacteristic of a woman to ask for money nor should they be worried about doing so.

(Ok, the conversation has just turned to something Utopia which is a tech thing and something about 'meta verse' (sp?) and...I am scared. I repeat: I AM NOT A GEEK. Not that that's a bad thing, but I'm just sayin')

Nancy has identified two teenagers who are members of a Summer math and science academy. They are into science and technology and are adorable. But who cares that they are adorable, they're smart (a hell of a lot smarter than I at least) and guess what! In high school they still experience gender discrimination from their male classmates who question whether or not they get help with their homework because they are in the advanced science and math classes. Oh, they're also really fucking articulate. Suddenly I feel inadequate. Durrrr.

Thankfully though there are males of the same age and in their summer program who support them. Ok, a 16 year old boy just said that women deserve respect in the lab and the other says that he encourages the girls in his biology class to do better. My ice cold heart just melted a bit, because that? Is very adorable.

Moving on...

There will be a list! A list of women in the tech field! Lists are good!

Now more mention of this open source thing, which I don't get. So if say you read this and you start thinking "OMG WTF were they thinking letting this girl write"? Just know that I am apologizing to you from miles away...I also suggest the podcasts. That way you can hear what has been said instead of just reading what happened.

Anyway despite the list of women, there are also goals, which are also very good. Goals that include getting women involved in a singular open source project and finding men to support women.

Action:

Organize, support tech learning, coordinate 'estro-swarms', notification.

And for myself? Learn to use the internet. Joy.

And now? We eat.

5 Comments:

Blogger Shelley said...

Heather, I think it's cool that you went.

Do you have a location for the podcasts?

2:39 PM  
Blogger Dagny said...

Walk into the IT department of most companies and about all you see is men. I know because before going into teaching, I spent a lot of time working with IT types. I asked a lot of questions and they were more than happy to answer. Now I make sure that my students know their way around a computer.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams.

I just ran across this, from an economist and a father. Lanny Arvin writes:

"I’d like to close with a point I’ve made before. It’s hard to be a nerd during childhood, there is a lot of social stigma attached to it. For boys, however, it is easier than for girls. My experience when I was a kid and at least for my older son he seems to have replicated that, it is possible to find a cohort of like minded kids and so one doesn’t have to bleach out all the idiosyncrasies. For girls who are inclined to be intellectual in a geeky way, however, I believe they are less likely to find a cohort that is unobtrusively nerdy. I’m of the mind that these kids will feel impelled to suppress a good part of their personas just to achieve some form of social acceptance. I’ve really not seen this issue discussed as much as I think it deserves."

What do you think?

6:32 PM  
Blogger LaBlogga said...

Podcasts don't appear to be available yet, check the BlogHer site as they were recorded in-house this year.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mir - here.

You did fabulously darling, and you know what - I have never heard open source used as an active verb "open-sourcing" so if that starts getting used all over the place you get to take all the credit.

I originally had karl down for this session, just randomly and Elisa said I ought to get a lady to cover it, and lucky you were the next name on the list. I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you very much.

3:40 PM  

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