Women and online/tech communities
Two bloggers I read regularly (Patrick and Darren) pointed to two interesting blog post/article about women, technology and online communities. They are both written by women and represent two different point of views. I found myself agreeing with both of them at different times.
1. Let’s All Evolve Past This: The Barriers Women Face in Tech Communities, by Gloria JW.
Destructive criticism is the best way to keep a site predominantly male. It implies that there is no concern about whether a person can learn from a response or not, or whether they would find offense. It is an outward display of ego, a territorial “pissing rite” in which most women do not and will not participate.
That being said, there are many men who flock to women-only groups for the same reasons as women. They do not want to be subjected to the predominantly male style of communication where there is no sense of community, or even just simple accountability. They grow tired of the “pissing rite”, the absurd declarations of false boundaries, the outward display of insecurity through harsh criticism, implicit claims of “my way, my expertise, my right, never yours”, and poor display of ego. This mode of communication is an unproductive waste of time, and many men realize this as well.
2. The insidious danger of danger, by Tara Hunt.
I’ve received endless emails from women who mention the incident (re: Kathy Sierra), telling me that they are ‘more careful’ of how much they participate in online discussions. They blog less. They make their twitter’s private, their flickr photos ‘friends only’ and they limit their openness in the variety of social networks out there.
And then we wonder where the women are?
Man, it sounds as if they are cowering in the shadows of the most empowering medium I’ve ever encountered! But where do you think those “invincible young guys” get all of their attention? Cowering? Hiding? No. Blogging. Forums. Being open. Out there. In their posted work on the social networks.