My drop in the bucket

Since I got into computer science in college, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking and reading about the gender imbalance in computing. I’ve decided it’s time for me to help fix the problem.

So I’ll be offering a free workshop in San Francisco to reach out to women who want to learn Ruby and Rails. Sarah Allen and I are spearheading with the assistance of the San Francisco Ruby Meetup and Devchix and (your org here?).

The first one is June 12th and 13th – Friday night is a mixer and installfest, then Saturday is the workshop and hacking space. We’ll go from nothing to a fully-operational web application on the internet (mwa ha haaa!).

Registration will be open next week – check back for details then.

I’m posting this today, though, because RailsBridge, a grassroots effort to make the Rails community welcoming to everyone, is launching today. We’ll be releasing the slides, talking points, and logistics info for these workshops (oh yes, there will be more) under their umbrella.

Now, I’m a developer, not a trainer or an event planner, but…they’re all nails, right? And Github is a mighty fine hammer. Fork the kit and use it to your own ends. Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I’ll merge you back in. But my goal is to have a continuously updated presentation that any Rails developer can pick up and use to run a similar event in their city.

Want to help? Maybe you actually know something about how to run a workshop like this? Get in touch and let’s talk.

4 comments to My drop in the bucket

  • Wyatt

    This is great, Sarah!

    I see gender imbalance as primarily two-pronged: (1) Why isn’t the percentage of women in tech jobs closer to 50% and (2) Compared to other tech communities, does Rails have a proportionately smaller percentage of women?

    It looks like what you’re doing will address #2.

    As far as #1 goes, we have a long road ahead of us. I believe the primary causes of tech gender imbalance happen during a child’s formative years. To achieve gender balance in the tech community means that we need to work with elementary, middle-school, and high-school students.

    I’ve been a technology teacher (both middle school and high school) and my wife taught math to middle school students. I was talking about gender imbalance in technical jobs with her and she had some good insights. For example, she said that math and science teachers often treat boys and girls differently when asking questions. Here’s an example of gender issues in education:

    More power to you as you address #2!

  • Wyatt

    On the subject of increasing women programmers by focusing on the formative years, let me direct you to an insightful post on the subject written quite a bit before the current women in Rails controversy. Apparently this blogger is ahead of her time in the Rails community! 😉

  • Rev. Dan

    LOL Wyatt! You and I both had after-the-fact realizations about our blogger friend! :)

    I dunno if you caught it at RailsConf (I couldn’t afford to go this year… [whine and moan]) but there have already been a number of videos posted including this panel discussion of Women in Technology, which Sarah is apparently either too busy or too humble to have already posted. :)

    I’m watching it now… will comment later.

  • Georgina

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m a girl studying maths & CS at uni and I found your blog after browsing a few articles about “women in IT” – I have quite a few assignments due in the next couple of weeks, so some relatively serious procrastination is in order.

    First – best of luck with the Ruby workshop =)

    Second, I hear you ran some kind of program where you taught javascript to high school girls. I’m interested to hear how that went, because I’m involved in a similar program (different continent, different language). We have fortnightly after school sessions (run mostly by female IT students) where we teach Python to girls in years 9-12. It’s a lot of fun, and incredibly rewarding when, after the first session they say stuff like “this is so much easier than I expected!”

    I should probably get back to my maths homework now, but please email me if you have time. It’s nice to know there are other people out there with similar ideas =)

    (PS it’s called the Girls’ Programming Network and we have a website: )