“Why do you write about technology? Wouldn’t you rather be writing about fashion or something?”

Posted by & filed under Blogosphere, Drupal, Gender, Vancouver.

Bridget Botelho writes about an experience she had at the New England VMware Users Group:

My “outsider” paranoia was made poignantly clear when the older gentleman sitting beside me during lunch asked out of sincere curiosity, “So, why do you write about technology? Wouldn’t you rather be writing about fashion or something?” My imaginary response was “Why, Yes! I would also love to spend my days writing about the latest additions to the My Little Pony collection and playing with Barbie dolls.” In reality, I was too insulted to think of anything witty to say, and was trapped in a flashback to when my brothers told me I couldn’t play G.I. Joes because I’m a girl.

Wow, that sounds awesome, Bridget. (Fortunately, her experience there wasn’t all negative.)

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I routinely attend the Vancouver Drupal Users Group and while female attendance is predictably low, it is in line with the estimated figures for the broader Drupal community: About 10%. More to the point, I definitely haven’t ever felt like my presence there was questioned because of my gender. (My terrifying physical stature and violent temper, sure, but gender?)

This makes me wonder if there’s a difference between the development and IT communities. Aside from LSL and web development, my techie cred is largely limited to networking — and that world seems pretty impenetrable, frankly. I’ve definitely encountered my fair share of guys from the IT sphere who question my technical credentials, and while I’ve never worked in formal software development, I know it has are far more similarities with web development than with networking.

On the other hand, this presentation did come up at a recent Ruby conference, as did one at this year’s DrupalCon, that asserted Drupal developers’ experience could be gauged by beard length. Web development is certainly not an egalitarian, bias-free zone. However, in the ensuing aftermaths of both, there were plenty of guys speaking out against them, and that’s important.

What’s your experience?

One Response to ““Why do you write about technology? Wouldn’t you rather be writing about fashion or something?””

  1. AnneDroid

    Everytime a new all-female metal band comes out, the ‘critics’ invariably say, “this band proves that women –can– rock!” The assumption is of course, that it’s all cotton candy, curling irons and high heels inside our heads.

    It’s rude and dismissive, but it really is just a fact of life; those who will be biogts will (at best) see you and I as exceptions. It’s been my experience that railing against it is pointless — Barbie won’t be given a fighter pilot’s uniform, and GI Joe won’t hold a frying pan.

    As an Engineering student, I found it disapointing that there was as much resistance from my female friends as from my classmates. “All that math is trouble, wouldn’t you really rather be a teacher?”

    I know that my skills and interests make me unusual, and I take some small pride and a touch of pleasure from that fact. I am appeciative that I’ve had the opportunity to know others who have the mental competency to challenge these social expectations (like you).

    With or without music, we rock. =)