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Code Of Our Own
 

Code Of Our Own

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An action plan for increasing the involvement of women in open source.

An action plan for increasing the involvement of women in open source.

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Code Of Our Own Code Of Our Own Presentation Transcript

  • Code of our Own Supporting Women Developers in Open Source And That Means Us Haecksen Miniconf, linux.conf.au 2010 Liz Henry liz@blogher.com Date
  • Beyond “Where are the women coders?” We’re here already. We’ve made good progress. Work continues. Dreamwidth and OTW devs How can we better support each other? graphic by Kirrily Robert, from http://infotrope.net How to bring new women into open source developer communities, and keep them there?
  • Assumptions ✤ That diversity is good for open source software, for women, for the world in general. ✤ Universal design is a goal. That goal is reached best by widening the pool of contributors. ✤ Having more women contributing to FLOSS is good. Let’s just run with those assumptions.
  • What not to do ✤ Joanna Russ “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” applies to writing code too. ✤ Denial of agency ✤ Pollution of agency ✤ Double standard of content ✤ False categorizing ✤ Isolation ✤ Anomalousness
  • Code of Our Own ✤ I work for BlogHer as one of 2 developers ✤ Group blog site with 80 paid editors (all women) and much larger community of writers ✤ Ad network for 2500 bloggers. 2400 of them are women. ✤ Passionate and heavy users of blog software.
  • Code of Our Own ✤ 2400 women bloggers ✤ 900 on self-hosted WordPress ✤ Pathway to being involved, contribution ✤ Touch/own your code ✤ Edit documentation ✤ Build themes, build plugins photos from blogher.com
  • Where are they in FLOSS? ✤ Here’s a pool of smart, dedicated software users who aren’t yet part of the WP community. ✤ How to get more of them contributing? ✤ Running workshops, tutorials ✤ And: there are huge barriers. Work in progress!
  • Mentoring programs kind of suck ✤ Mentoring has not worked to generate broad base of change ✤ Not enough people want to say they’re experts/teachers ✤ Puts you under fire, target for proving you’re expert. ✤ Fear of ending up tech support/newb hand holder forever, wasting time, too much volunteering already. Teach and mentor anyway when you can.
  • Old school skills ✤ Lack of understanding of infrastructure is a barrier to contribution to FLOSS ✤ Command line/Unix skills ✤ Lots of webdev possible without that ✤ But it helps culturally and for communication and learning
  • Let’s talk to grown women please ✤ Leaky pipeline ✤ Flaws with “teach programming to girls” approach ✤ At best, some kids learn Skitch or something. Well, that’s cool. ✤ At worst, attracts people who can’t deal with adult women’s maturity and agency ✤ Grrrr
  • Your Boyfriend Is Awesome ✤ You hack together. Yay! ✤ That’s not going to help you or us all in the long run to work through these issues, many of which are about gender based isolation and internalized misogyny. ✤ Pollution of agency. ✤ Don’t let your life fail the Bechdel test.
  • We need strategies to fight impostor syndrome Impostor syndrome. I’m not really a programmer. Whatever I know, it isn’t “enough”. I write code but am not really a hacker. Every coder knows someone more geekier than they are. Culture of experts. Pecking order. Gender adds complexity to these power dynamics, feelings, and pressures. How, other than “man up”, and “magically be less insecure”, do we FIGHT this?
  • Think of tech support and debugging as feminist activism ✤ What women say to me when they run into a coding problem ✤ “I’m so stupid. I never know what I’m doing.” Even the ones who knew more than I did. ✤ Catching myself saying this. It’s not easy to stop. Cyclical. ✤ Gently redirect self-deprecation. Don’t make a person feel worse for putting ✤ Demystify, reassure, empower. herself down. But let’s help each other stop it. “Disclaimer!”
  • Figuring things out together ✤ Create culture of figuring things out together. Peer mentoring ✤ Unconferences, tech camps, coffee and code ✤ Starting from the beginning isn’t beginning enough. Boys tend to be incompetent together and figure stuff out in early teenage years without shame. ✤ Do I even know enough to go Consider starting a band as an example. Girls are to something called socially rewarded at that age for demonstrating competence, maturity, not looking stupid. We can “HackerChix?”, “Intro to work on that skill now, as adults, with respect. Python”, etc.
  • Introduce everyone to develop trust ✤ Introductions are important. Establishing ourselves as whole people, background, life, essential for developing trust. ✤ She’s Geeky, BlogHer, Woolfcamp, all started with facilitated getting to know you sessions. ✤ Tag yourselves on badge. Photo and bio or description of skills BE REAL. up on the wall for reference.
  • Start from the very beginning ✤ Dreamwidth does a good job of starting from VERY beginning. Desi from DevChix, and Nabil, at She’s Geeky ✤ What do I need to start coding? ✤ What tools do people use? What should I use? ✤ These photos are from She’s Geeky session “Show and Tell your Dev Env”.
  • Install something! Together. ✤ Dev env setup. We need more workshops, sharing sessions. ✤ Doing a specific thing, with requirements ✤ She’s Geeky session on Installing Drupal on your Mac with MAMP. The scope was good for an hour and a half. ✤ Get a web host and install WP: another good session.
  • Look at some code together! ✤ Code tours work well. ✤ This was a tour of index.php in WordPress at BlogHer’s Geek Lab, by Nelly Yuspova. ✤ We spent a lot of time digging into “The Loop” ✤ Biggest epiphany for class: to read this code and know what it does, you have to dig around into other files it refers to, like functions.php.
  • This was the most popular slide at my talk on coding at BlogHer. We need to give each other permission to be confused. Fight the spiral into insecurity and feeling incompetent. Admit that debugging is hard
  • Intro to a language ✤ Ruby workshop at She’s Geeky ✤ Set up by DevChix ✤ Step by step instructions ✤ Guest accounts, how to ssh in and start doing stuff
  • House parties! ✤ WoolfCamp ✤ 35 people mostly women ✤ We deliberately girlified it with ponies, sparkles, nail painting, kids, cooking, frivolity ✤ Unconference or open space style
  • House parties ✤ Informality worked. ✤ We practiced telling overbearing guys to stfu so we had room to talk and listen to each other. ✤ One on one teaching, workshops, with own laptop ✤ Looking over someone’s shoulder is helpful ✤ We need more of this for coding. More of a pair programming approach.
  • Meetups and hack days ✤ Code Chix ✤ Super Happy Dev House ✤ Hacker and maker spaces like Noisebridge, HackerDojo ✤ Just invite people over to your house and show each other coding projects and you’ll learn something!
  • Are these things working? ✤ Based on the people I know in these communities of bloggers, yes, but slowly ✤ Feedback: Code isn’t so mysterious. Power shift from depending on bf/husband to doing own development. Women also setting up as consultants. ✤ Contributions to FLOSS? We’ll see.
  • All about Me ✤ I personally find this hard too. ✤ I loved programming starting from age 6 on punch cards. It is annoying to say this. Pointless “street cred”. ✤ Tech writing, tech support, databases, html, Perl, BSD -> Linux, web dev, PFY in 90s, software engineer. More cred. ✤ Still Not Experienced Enough, Ever ✤ Not ambitious to be superhacker. Dilettante. Fun. Learning new stuff! ✤ What helps me?
  • IM and pastebin ✤ Ways that IRC is uncomfortable. ✤ Public exposure of not-knowing ✤ Peer mentoring here too. ✤ IM me your bug. Pastebin me your code. ✤ I’d like to have more friends who code to do this with.
  • Over the shoulder ✤ Watching someone code, in any language. Their process. ✤ Good habits, tricks of efficiency ✤ Screwups and failure to scope a problem. “Oh, this will take 10 minutes” ✤ 5 hours later . . . LOL. ✤ The comfort of schadenfreude
  • Show the Code ✤ What happens when we blog about code? ✤ Good results for me so far but I am still tentative ✤ Looking at what people said about Leah Culver was chilling for me. ✤ Yet meanwhile, script kiddie dude posts on forums. WTF.
  • Things that might work ✤ Code more with other women ✤ Post your code and talk about it in public somewhere ✤ Host a “figuring code out together” meetup for women ✤ Give a talk on *exactly* what to do to become involved in an open source project ✤ Bring women into irc channels but keep private backchannel
  • Pay Attention ✤ Make time to hang out with other women while doing geek stuff. ✤ Pay attention to other women ✤ You have to make an effort to do this and shift attention, information feeds, reading patterns, to be more diverse
  • Solidarity and sisterhood ✤ Beta read other women’s stuff. Expose your drafts. Improve them. Thank each other. ✤ All those How to Suppress Women’s Writing things? Don’t do them to yourself or others. ✤ Backchannels are important. Complain. Support. Document. Naming the problem. Then turn outrage to positive action. ✤ Avoid burnout & isolation by standing together. Don’t ride point. It’s a trap. Look Demonstrate Solidarity! at feminist collectives and joint authorship. Deflects some forms of misogynist criticism. Useful!