Ruby on Rails Workshop

Thanks to everyone who contributed and attended the workshop this October. We hope we were successful in hosting an attitude-free, newbie-safe and mama-friendly tech event encouraging women to join the Ruby on Rails community.

Women are a minority in most technical communities, but in open source communities the numbers are even smaller — by a factor of about ten or more.

Moving forward, we encourage our newly empowered programmers to meet monthly and use their skills towards open source projects in a welcoming, collaborative, mixed gendered environment.

Click here to learn more about the Open Source Code Crunch.

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Julia Ashmun

Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology

As stated on the new White House website, Obama has made a commitement to “Increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline, tapping the diversity of America to meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce”.

But how do you DO that exactly? Especially when this morning, I read arecent article about’s “Most Influential Women in Web 2.0” post in which many comments to Digg were graphic, sexist, and nasty eventually resulting in posters being thrown off by the site’s administrators.

The New York Times offers suggestions in an excellent article about ‘Geek Chic’ that talks about the hurdles women face pursing a career in science and offers some ideas.

In particular, I applaud their suggestion of appointing women to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. We need role models. And we need women in power who will step outside of the boy’s club and mentor other young women as they seek a leg up.

The article also points out that pursuing an academic career in science means giving up having a family. “Men can have it all, but women can’t,” says Dr. Mary Ann Mason of the University of California, Berkeley. She believes that an executive order that would provide added family leave and parental benefits to the recipients of federal grants would make a difference. Why stop there?

As a pregnant, woman technologist myself let me restate the obvious point that creating life and parenting small children while staying technically relevant is a challenge. But it can be done. I did it. I’m doing it again. Women are doing it. Sure we’re drooling on our keyboards in the first trimester, but we’re no less productive than our husbands (now involved fathers giving up blogging and gaming time for midnight feedings) who are also drooling on their keyboards when the boss isn’t looking. Still the obvious discrimination that women face is astounding.

Personally, I think its all about perception. Women (and everyone else) need to be able to envision themselves as successful technologists. We need to know that choosing a career in science doesn’t mean giving up the Manolo Blahniks as well as any hope of raising a family.

Hollywood has made motherhood sexy. Can Obama make science sexy? Can a pregnant, software developer be sexy? Have you met me? …Seriously though, I wonder if science becomes sexy, glamorous, the new chic, will more girls be drawn to it? Wouldn’t it be awsome if Obama hired Xeni Jardin for his Council of Advisers on Science and Technology?

The NY Times article also makes mention of a network show I love called The Big Bang Theory. I get a thrill hearing all the geek references thrown around in primetime. But what is troublesome about this show is that the sexy, blonde bombshell across the hall didn’t graduate community college and the only other female physicist is unattractive, sexually abnormal and unfeminine. While both women can hold their own amongst a group of socially awkward but brilliant men… who would you rather be?

We need role models, Mr. Obama. Feminine role models who aren’t afraid to bring home the bacon, chauffeur the kids in a van, and be able to set up your lan.

1 Response to “Obama’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology”

  • Being a male information technology professional for well over 10 years both in a Management, and network security/ it consulting capacity. I agree that at least the IT field is predominantly a male dominated field. The few women Chief Information officers & IT managers I have met over the years are extremely gifted and are well respected in their industries.

    However, I have also witnessed firsthand that some of the women IT sales executives, I have coached and mentored over the years. That may not have the technical prowess, be belittled by male IT managers, and in some cases come sobbing back to the office. Sure these individuals may not have known the difference between a TCP/UDP stack or the difference between a FTP or TFTP connection as it relates to a router or switch. However, if our country is going to encourage further education for women in the sciences, we need to get past the notion that the IT industry should be a male dominated industry and females should go into the health sciences industry. It does not come as a surprise that many women choose to become pharmaceutical sales representatives rather that IT sales reps for this same reason.

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