A conversation with Stephanie Troeth

I discovered a very interesting woman in the course of getting ready for SXSW. My co-presenter for a SXSW Interactive panel, Stephanie Troeth, is that woman. Luckily, she agreed to an interview of sorts, since I thought you would like to know more about her, too.

Steph is a member of the Web Standards Project (WaSP), a grassroots organization working for the adoption of web standards. She’s a co-lead of the International Liason Group and serves on the Education Task Force at WaSP. Steph said she became interested in web standards because of an excellent mentor she had while in college. To Steph, web standards and usability just made sense. She calls them elegant. They save time, work, and create beautiful results.

Her involvement with WaSP began in 2003 when she was recruited to work by Molly Holzschlag after Molly saw some work she did for an outfit called MACCAWS. Steph’s personal website is unadorned.org, where she laments that everything is out of date. You can see a few examples of her poetry and other writing there, even though she is too busy working and traveling to promote web standards to keep it updated often.

Steph has a computer science degree. Her minor is in musical composition, and she performed on the keyboards from the age of 7 all the way through college. Although she is not composing music right now, she retains a strong interest in the arts, music and–get this–modern street art. As we strolled around the streets of downtown Austin today, she kept remarking on how square everything was. I must get her away from downtown so she can sample some of Austin’s very unsquare and famously weird ambience.

She was born in Borneo, is of mostly Chinese extraction, went to college in Australia, and now works in Montreal. You can see where her interest in using standards for the internationalization of web sites came from! Her day job at a Montreal company bills her as Director of Technology and Web Development. Part of that job is to hire people in the web development area, a job made more difficult because the college graduates she has to choose from are not often taught to use web standards as a best practice.

If you are at SXSW, come by on Sunday at 4:00 to see our talk on Best Practices in Teaching Web Design. Steph will also be participating in the WaSP panel on Monday at 5:00. Catch her in both places.

This is cross-posted at BlogHer.

Media consumption meme

In the interests of adding a woman’s voice to the Media Consumption Diet meme at Web-Strategist.com, here are my media consumption habits.

  • Web: I read the news using Google News and the New York Times. I read a large number of blogs using NetNewsWire as my blog feeder. My favorite blogs are listed in the Recommended Blogs menu in the sidebar, except for a few that don’t relate to web design. My favorite non-web design blog is Time Goes By.
  • Music: I listen to a lot of jazz, including the jazz shows on public radio. I listen to podcasts of “All Songs Considered,” “Radio Without Borders,” “Texas Music Matters,” and “The Austin Connection.” I also listen to music from my CD collection which mostly includes female jazz vocalists but is very eclectic.
  • TV: I like movies better than network shows but once in a while a network show such as “Brothers and Sisters” catches my interest.
  • Communications: phone and email, blogs and listservs
  • Movies: I go to a lot of movies but don’t like really violent ones
  • Magazines: Newsweek, New Mexico Magazine, AARP Magazine. Mostly I get news online.
  • Books: I read three or four books a week, mostly novels but sometimes nonfiction. I’m in two book discussion groups.
  • Newspapers: I read my local Sunday paper. Other newspapers I read online. I get most of my daily news from public radio.

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I decided to quit complaining and take action

Enough already with the facts and figures. I’m going to take action. Here’s what I commit to do:

  • Send proposals for presentations to at least two conferences where I’ve never presented
  • Send proposals for articles to at least two publications where I’ve never published

This is definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. Check back in a year and we’ll see if I added to the percentages on the female side of things with my efforts.

Meri Williams responded to gender/diversity issue by opening up a new site for those of us who have the potential to be speakers but are in need of some mentoring to really get going. Make Me a Speaker. If you want to be either a mentor or a learner, get on over there and make yourself known.

Who’s counting? Kottke, that’s who

Those of you who are long-time readers of this blog know that I love to end a post that announces an event with a list of the number of male speakers versus female speakers and a smart a**ed, “But who’s counting?” Well, Kottke is counting and he’s got the goods, the facts, the data, the real stuff: Gender diversity at web conferences (kottke.org).

Addendum Feb. 23, 2007: Not surprisingly, Dori Smith has some things to say on this topic and provides some interesting links to more information.

Addendum Feb 24, 2007: Even more fun. Shelly Powers, at Just Shelly has some things to say, too. And so did Eric Meyer. You might want to read Eric’s Thoughts before you read Shelly’s so you can form your own opinion first. (Well, well, well. Eric thought again and braves admitting it in public.) There’s something that feels very like the voice of wisdom from John Allsop. And one final addendum, then I’ll stop. Be sure to read Anil Dash: The Old Boys Club is for Losers.

Let’s not forget the beginning of this post, where I pointed to Jason Kottke’s real facts and figures. These speak loudly even without commentary.

O’Reilly Media invite

I suspect it is because I’m on the PR mailing list for new O’Reilly publications because I review so many O’Reilly books. Or maybe they think I know something about Ruby on Rails (I don’t). But I received my first ever invitation to participate as a presenter from them today. OMG, could it be that they are trying to increase the percentage of female presenters? Now that would be truly noteworthy. Most of the time I have to find places I might want to present and then figure out how to submit a proposal. So this invitation is new for me. Here’s part of the email:

To meet the increasing demand for skill building, and to spread the joy of Rails, Ruby Central and O’Reilly Media are teaming up to produce RailsConf Europe 2007, an entire conference
dedicated to Ruby on Rails. Happening September 17-19 in Berlin, Germany, RailsConf Europe will offer keynotes, sessions, and tutorials from the most innovative and successful Rails experts and organizations.

I won’t be going, but for the rest of you who may know something about Ruby on Rails or want to learn, take note of the event in Berlin in September.