September 29th, 2009
For the past month and a half, I’ve been working on putting together a free ruby on rails workshop for women. This event has generated a lot of excitement and already we’re nearing room capacity.
This evening, the announcement was sent out via the internal Harvard ABCD group list which emails all the techies working at Harvard. And I have to admit to being flabbergasted at the following responses sent to the entire ABCD community:
This is blatant sexual discrimination. Are women considered too fragile to learn technical subjects in the same group as men?
For whatever it’s worth I think XXXX is right.
Can you imagine the reaction if there was a technical conference for men only – and a women could only attend as the guest of a man?
There are far too many grants/scholarships/opportunities that are explicitly only open to women or minorities (I’m a minority and it still bothers me). A hypothesis of implicit discrimination against group A does not justify explicit discrimination against group B.
This women’s Ruby workshop exists for the same reason this men’s knitting retreat exists http://www.menwhoknit.com/community/?q=n…). I have never heard a woman knitter complain about a men’s knitting class.
Well, to be fair, I think a male-only knitting group is just as bad an idea as the women-only RoR workshop ;-)
This was my response:
If anyone has concerns about this workshop, please email me directly as I am the coordinator.
But I feel that I must add that for those of you who don’t understand the need for this sort of workshop, you might want to read this keynote talk by Kirrily Robert.
A lot of people, still just don’t get it. Folks don’t want to believe that there are still sexist jokes, pornographic presentations at conferences, harrassment, and all kinds of subtle discrimination going on in the tech community every day. And the only way to combat it, is to encourage mixed gendered environments so that both sexes can learn from one another.
This workshop happens to be very male friendly. At present, the women to men ratio is 2:1. If you can’t find a mother, sister, daughter, friend or stranger to sign up with you for this class, then you have more problems than a one day programming course is gonna fix.