SRSLY Redux

September 30th, 2009

Today’s Horoscope:
Mercury remains in the spotlight today, prompting emotionally charged interactions with your friends at work. …No kidding.

Thanks so much for organizing the workshop. I hope to attend. I love the idea, think these workshops are necessary, and would love to help out in the future if you need.

Personally, however, I do feel that the following, “Men are warmly welcomed when they find a woman who wants to learn Ruby on Rails who will register and bring a guest.” is exclusionist.

I have been in scientific software development for many years. I am also a wife and a mother of two. I agree full-heartedly that women in technology and certain areas of science face many struggles, discrimination, and blatant sexism. We might bridge the gap better though with more welcoming attempts that seek to include, but educate men in our struggles. We can’t do this though if they cannot join our events – outright. Perhaps in the future, you could just sell the event as simply women-in-technology focused, but leave the door open for men as well?

I understand the need, but the registration restriction is illegal:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Folks, I do not consider this workshop to be exclusionary especially considering that the current ratio of women to men is 2:1.

The point of the event is to encourage women developers. So the caveat that a man is asked to encourage a woman to sign him up as her guest feels entirely appropriate.

Besides, there are many many other tech events that are primarily male driven. And sadly many of these events do tend to be exclusionary to women through subtle competitive atmospheres and in some cases not so subtle sexist comments. Just check out the geekfeminism wiki regarding recent tech events for more notable examples.

Starting in November, we will be having a regular Wednesday evening event pairing newbies with ruby on rails rockstars to work on open source projects in a welcoming, collaborative, mixed gendered environment. (Meaning that men are very welcome to attend on their own.) The idea is to encourage learning rather than the competitiveness found in other tech events. And “educate men in our struggles” by working alongside them.

No. I will not rescind the “come as a guest” request for this ONE event. It is my understanding that making a “request” is entirely legal.

p.s. Boston ruby group is a lovely group of people and I do not include them as part of the exclusionary tech events referred to above.

How can it not be exclusionary when you advertise that a man is only allowed to attend if accompanied by a woman, but a lone women is fine?

It most certainly IS illegal, even just to advertise it in that way.
Consult a lawyer unless you wish to risk Harvard losing federal funding:

Title IX is administered by the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education (OCR).[3] It applies to an entire school or institution if any part of that school receives federal funds; hence, athletic programs are subject to Title IX, even though there is very little direct federal funding of school sports.[4] The regulations implementing Title IX require all institutions receiving federal funds to conduct self-evaluations of whether they offer equal opportunities based on sex[5] and to provide written assurances to the Dept. of Education that the institution is in compliance for the period that the federally funded equipment or facilities remain in use.

The intention is admirable, but the implementation is legally flawed.
Just because it “feels entirely appropriate” doesn’t make it legal!

I appreciate you pointing the legalities of the event. I’ve contacted our clinical office to confirm.

But I won’t allow you to ignore the more important part of my message regarding the exclusionary tactics of other “open” tech events.

Rather than welcoming men as guests, perhaps we should simply make sexist comments and harass them into not attending. Apparently, that must be completely legal since it happens regularly.

Entry Filed under: Personal,Ruby on Rails

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. A link roundup without a &hellip  |  October 2nd, 2009 at 1:39 am

    [...] matter how “positive” and action-oriented your feminist deed is, there’s srsly always backlash.  [...]

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@jcallina @lleahy :-( I'll send you links to the talks when they're available. Really great stuff tonight.

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