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Why PyLadies? (chesnok.com)
51 points by craigkerstiens 1752 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments

This kind of gender segregation makes me sad. So many years fighting for women to have the same rights as men, and now it turns out that IT, the youngest technology of all, suffers from gender discrimination. Thus motivating the creation of these kind of groups.

It's kind of embarrassing.

I am a woman. I have been in plenty of groups which are mostly female. If there is a single male, he tends to become the central figure with the most social influence. Women will turn into backstabbing bitches to compete for who gets to align themselves with the sole male.

I do not engage in such behavior. Commenting on its existence tends to not go over well with anyone, male or female. I have often been the sole woman willing to stand up to such a man in a largely female group. It is a great way to make enemies all around.

I am sure there are complex social reasons for such patterns. This is probably not the time or place to discuss it. I am only trying to suggest that a good reason to have some "ladies only" groups is because of the way a lot of women behave around men, not because of the way men behave around women or because "men are all sexist pigs".

If this works for some women to help them have a healthier relationship to their career goals, I think it's a good thing.

Isn't the effect true regardless of which direction the gender imbalance is in? I.e. if there's a female in a male-dominated group, she tends to end up with more social influence as the guys compete for her.

No, I don't think so. A lone female who acts dominant (or even "equal"), socially, gets in serious hot water. BTDT.

The experience of those who are not just minorities, but even more so is unique and hard to understand. I'm not sure if it has terminology, so I'll call it "hyper-minority." Not only is a "hyper-minority" outnumbered, there are so few of them, in many contexts there is no minority community to fall back on, or even if there is, it's so small, its presence can often not be felt. Being a hyper-minority has many of the visibility drawbacks of being a celebrity, minus the personal fame and some of the benefits. Where I grew up, it was so predominantly white, the family had to drive 50 miles to visit other Asian friends, who weren't even in the same ethnic group. While there are more women in programming than before, there are still times and places where a woman can feel like a hyper-minority. Being defined by how you look, or some other external signal, instead of what you can do and what you know is a significant barrier. It's like a cuckoo that can eat up all of the energy and nourishment that should be going to growing genuine working relationships.

The group being form here is trying to encourage women to participate. This does not mean it is a response to gender discrimination. In particular, just because a field is predominantly Y does not mean X are discriminated against.

There's nothing wrong with an underrepresented group trying to attract other members of the same demographic to create a sense of community. Just like there's nothing wrong with being underrepresented.

I'm actually being placed on the other side of the fence here, I don't have a clue what "gender discrimination" looks like in the broader tech world, all I know is that in my company, the techies are equal in numbers, male and female (thought not of course by design.)

I find it sad that I often see a great group of people and a group which I would absolutely love being able to join, but that it is exclusively for women, is this really how we want to solve a perceived gender discrimination? By creating another one which leans the other way?

So often politics of gender, race, sexuality, etc. seems to over shadow what these groups should really be about, which is bringing people together to learn and have fun experiences. Men and women can have these fun experiences together, we don't need to invite purely men or women, imagine the backlash if "blokes who code" had a male only tech group.

It's very easy to play the "under-represented" card, but the fact of the matter is this: women in the U.S. ever so slightly out number men. There is absolutely nothing stopping women joining in with the tech industry, there is no law, no patriarchy standing in their way, the only thing stopping a woman from joining the tech industry is herself.

> the only thing stopping a woman from joining the tech industry is herself

What about the fact that we, as a society, are biased against women in technology (all of us, even women)? For example, tech resumes with a female name will be rated lower than that same resume with a male name. Not only in competence but in other categories like "bragging too much" or "how much you would like to work with this person".

How is starting pyladies "playing an under-represented" card? That implies it requires an "excuse". Women ARE underrepresented in technology.

Yes, women can legally join the tech industry, but we as a society can do a lot to make that easier. If you ask young girls their gender before they take a math test, their scores drop. Should we tell them to just get over it and do better at math? Bias is society-wide and can't be solved that simply.

One way to help is to support groups like PyLadies. Keep up the great work Selena!!

> I don't have a clue what "gender discrimination" looks like in the broader tech world

Here's some reading that might help you get started with educating yourself:

* http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2012/mar/22/techno...

* http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/business/global/measures-p...

This wiki of gender incidents in tech is my go-to link: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_of_incidents.

Interesting read, but some of the articles seem to be hearasy (no sources listed beyond "so and so seems to remember"). Additionally, some of it seems pretty hairtrigger stuff--body image triggering?

Thanks for the link regardless.

Heh. Well, on the bright side, I've brought together 85 women that were not part of any open source or Python community before.

So I've read, congratulations! It's just that these things always remind me to a Simpsons episode:


Hence my whining. I hope I'm very wrong.

There's a significant body of research forming around how to get "minority cultural groups" to survive inside a larger, dominant culture. If you look into "cultural resistance" you'll find some interesting books (I recommend the _cultural resistance reader_ and _unlocking the clubhouse_).

Basically, it comes down to helping someone who is part of a cultural minority maintain their identity (in this case, women's culture) while they are dipping a toe into the waters of the different culture. That's why groups like PyLadies are useful and important.

The research supporting creating these groups is why I believe they ultimately will work to increase the number of women involved in open source, and the tech world in general.

Now we just have to collect data about what we're doing that works and what doesn't, and try to spread the knowledge as fast and as far as we can.

I think trait-looking-explore-<hobby/profession> groups will always exist. It's easier to bond with strangers when you have 2 things in common instead of 1, all else equal.

I am not saying tech doesn't have gender discrimination. There are plenty of blog posts out there that say otherwise. I just don't take post as an indicator of such.

Thanks for your hard work. I've heard lots of great things about PyLadies. If my friend wasn't graduating in the spring I would try to convince her to organize a student PyLadies group.

See you at PyCon!


It would be so cool to have campus groups. I'll bring that up to the other organizers. There are a handful of students who already come to the Portland group. We should figure out some ways of capturing the imagination of more students.

Another interesting group is @wwdcgirls for any women who plan on attending Apple's next event.

Please ditch the text-shadow. The text is completely illegible to me, and I can't highlight the text to read the inverted colour scheme due to the text shadow making it look all smugded. :)

Thanks for all your contributions to women in tech and the Python community.

:) I removed it, increased the font size and purged the cache.

Are transgendered women allowed in PyLadies? Do you need to be post-op?

Thanks for the question.

I will bring this up with all PyLadies - but for my part, yes! We don't have a global charter, so I will seek clarification on this and express my opinion.

The wording that I have tried to use is "primarily woman-identified" or "not primarily male-identified". If you have better wording suggestions, please share!

Please use a web-friendly font. Plus, I don't know if using so much pink is a good idea. But then again, I'm not a designer. Or a woman.

Otherwise, keep up the good work!

Are you talking about the PyLadies site itself? I'm not a color expert, but it seems to be mostly red and white.

My site's theme is predominantly blue. I hadn't really thought about my color choices until just now.

There seems to be some escaped HTML in your header text: http://i.imgur.com/RG5bBDp.png

Fixed! Thanks.

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