Summary: Women in WordPress

Attendees: Cátia Kitahara (discussion leader), Erica Varlese, Helen Hou-Sandi, Aaron Jorbin, Sara Cannon, Christine, Amy Hendrix, Andrea Rennick, Rachel Baker, Mika Epstein, Matt Mullenweg, Siobhan, Jane Wells

It’s not just a WordPress problem, but more men and women working in tech. Only 12 out of 100 women here. There are more women involved, how do we get them here? Don’t want to feel like we’re here just because we’re women.

Follow the ADA initiative, get more WCs to follow the guidelines and everything they set up for events.

There’s a tendency for women to do lots of work but not call attention to it; don’t brag about it. “I’ve been told I was bragging and it was unseemly and it was coming across as too manly.” To be noticed in WordPress has been to keep people from knowing I was a women for as long as possible.

What I’m hearing from other women is they don’t think they’re smart enough; even though they’re doing amazing work, they feel like outsiders. Lots of women in themes or design who actually do development say they’re not a developer.

Some stories of being treated badly in tech support when they found out they were a woman. It’s also a big problem that women stereotype and mistreat other women in professional situations. But if people don’t know you’re a woman, it doesn’t encourage other women to get involved. Work twice as hard, half the credit, and 100% of the blame.

Zero-tolerance for people with bad manners. If you can’t respect everyone you’re not welcome in the community. Etiquette file used to be linked from forums. WP forums used to have a reputation of being a bit of a snakepit. Justin Tadlock of “what was the first question you asked on the forums?” Many were what we would now see as dumb questions. You can’t know what you don’t know. The moderators have changed their attitude, to not just keep off spam but really to set a good example.

There’s a WordCamp Code of Conduct. For website we prefer to be positive rather than “don’t don’t don’t.” Can we shift this conversation from what other people do wrong to what can we do right? Changing other people is futile. What kind of example can I set? Might need to put more effort into remembering to project, and be confident.

Something I’ve noticed with WordCamps I’ve attended is most of the people that apply to speak are male and on the developer track. Big opportunity. Need to reach out extra to include women speakers. Demographics of wordpress.org visitors are 61% male, 39% women — for users of WP software it’s probably more even. This event (summit) skews more developer-y.

I feel pressure to speak in the developer track, but I would rather go outside of my comfort zone for a user track presentation to set that example for the community at large. If we had more women involved there wouldn’t be that pressure. Women say no to speaking invitations more than men for tech conferences. Goes back to safe zone issue, stranger danger fear. Division of household duties can make it harder for a woman to go.

Every session doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest, some users just want to know how to edit CSS. Make it less intimidating to contribute. We get a lot of the same people giving similar presentations. Some of the exclusion isn’t necessarily gender but disposition, even the women we get tend to be a lot more assertive.

Not just having a hack day, but a contributing to WP day, rename hack day as contributing day? Lisbon had translation group, support group, documentation group, core group. Cross-functional groups means that a lot more can get done, than if it was just isolated developers, designers, or users.

The learning curve of WP isn’t straight, it’s easy easy easy BOOM.

I think it’s hard to learn to public speak well, I struggle with it and I’ve been doing it for four years. It’s a difficult skill, and is something above and beyond just having normal confidence. A mentorship program — a huge help is teaching, when you start teaching it goes a long way to being more comfortable.

Give positive reinforcement especially when code or anything is shared. Maybe it could be important to have some numbers, from the survey or something to have more what our baseline is and track our progress (or regression) over time.

Action item: ask for gender on survey? Don’t want to put the question in people might not want to identify. Maybe on .org profiles? Male, female, a LGBT dropdown, I don’t want to say. Important for moderators on forums to make the forums a safe space, IRC, Trac. Also important for WCs and meetups. There’s always that weird guy at a meetup.

I put a code of conduct in the badges for WCSF 2011, and everyone knows there’s a standard of behavior. OS Bridge has a great thing attached to their CoC that you could nominate people that are super-inclusive and recognize them publicly. Defcon had red cards, yellow cards, green cards. There are two types of people when it comes to code of conduct, those who don’t think it’s needed and have never dealt with it, and those who have dealt with it.

Proactive program to reach out to middle and high school programs for girls and women into the community, particularly on the engineering side. What are some things we could do to reach out to that group? Lots of non-profits and groups focused on this. When my kids were 12 we taught them HTML and CSS.

We haven’t had too many issues, mostly language based or language in a presentation, not usually downgrading but more objectifying from a sexual level. It’s the subtle things as much as the obvious things. We’ve also gotten feedback on women speakers who are too flirty or cutesy when presenting, not professional enough. When I see those turned away I introduce myself first to the person who was snubbed, say “probably just didn’t see you” and then re-get the speaker or person and say “this person was waiting for you and you didn’t notice them can I introduce you? This is so-and-so and from this town and really enjoyed your presentation.”

Be super-encouraging. Action item: should be everyone here should find a woman in their local community that really knows their stuff and get them to present at a local meetup.