We know the situation is bad for women in tech. See the Timeline of Incidents on the Geek Feminism Wiki, the Tumblr blog Programmers Being Dicks, Dell Conference Moderator Fails to Amuse Women, and Here’s Hoping. I could go on, but you already know this stuff. Naming names, pointing fingers, and listing offenses are important in raising awareness. But not much is changing.
It occurs to me that perhaps we should be taking the opposite approach. Perhaps we should be finding men and events to praise. Perhaps we should collect stories about conferences and events and men who are doing what we wish ALL conferences and events and men would do.
John Allsopp and Maxine Sherrin from Web Directions set the tone as a good example.
So do Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman from An Event Apart and Hugh Forrest from SXSW. There are others I don’t know yet, but there are good stories to be told.
I’m not going to conferences these days – no money and no reason to go other than interest. Nobody is paying me for being interested, so I can’t go. That means I can’t be the one bringing home the stories about the conferences, events and men who deserve big praise and recognition. If I could find a group of women who are actively attending tech conferences and events who would be willing to bring such tales home and tell them, I would serve as organizer and moderator for a blog or site where their stories could be told.
It doesn’t have to be a huge story. A well-received panel presentation with women panelists. A guy in a bar who sticks up for a woman when some famous tech dude asks her who she slept with to get her job. A set of slides that don’t contain images of tits and asses along with the technical data. An event with a female keynoter. A famous tech dude who helps a woman as a mentor rather than a sexual predator. Keep it simple. Keep the emphasis on who is doing it right and how they are doing it right.
I could use some help in figuring out the best way to set it up, and in designing it to be beautiful. (You don’t have to be a woman to help with that part.) Once it was running I would do all the moderating and upkeep.
If there are enough women who are willing to write about the praiseworthy events and men they discover in their conference travels, we can make this work. As any parent knows, praise teaches better than blame, so let’s stop blaming and start praising. Let’s see if that can create change.
Women, I need to know if you are willing to contribute to this with stories about the good stuff or with technical and design help getting it going. You can leave a comment or you can contact me privately at virginia at vdebolt dot com.