Sometimes it is difficult being a woman in IT. Even I, even tuff old cranky yet charming me, have encountered some pretty crappy treatment just for the crime of being female.
The good news is the tech world is full of really cool, smart people, if you know where to find them. For me, online communities have been a lifesaver. I remember when I first went online back in 1995, with Netscape 1.0 and Pine. Suddenly, I had a 2400 B/ps window to the entire world! It was a real thrill to talk to people all over the planet. Now I live in a rural area, where I am the only geek for miles, so my online hangouts are vital for my mental health and professional development. I can’t be the only geek who gets tired of hearing “ew, computers scare me!” Just gotta have folks to talk shop with.
Linuxchix is a great community. There are but two rules: Be polite. Be helpful. Linuxchix has a number of different-purpose mailing lists: Techtalk, Newchix, Kernelchix, Programming, Courses, and some social lists. There are also a number of Linuxchix chapters where you can get together with real live Linuxchix, in the flesh.
WorldWIT, Women In Technology. For women in business and technology.
WITI, Women in Technology International. For women technology professionals.
WomenGamers. Because women do play!
Webgrrls. As the web site says, “Webgrrls International provides a forum for women in or interested in new media and technology to network, exchange job and business leads, form strategic alliances, mentor and teach, intern and learn the skills to help women succeed in an increasingly technical workplace and world.”
A brand-new group for women interested in becoming Debian maintainers, or participating in other ways, such as bug fixing, writing documentation, assisting non-native English speakers, and such, has started up: Debian-Women. The Debian project is large, complex, and not always the friendliest, so it can be rather daunting for a newcomer to find a niche. Debian-Women was formed to encourage and support women and girls to participate in Debian, and in high-tech.
I encourage all women in tech to be more visible. Visibility is everything. You don’t have to be doing anything spectacular, like curing the common cold or making world peace or doing protest marches or burning your undergarments. Just letting folks know you are there is a big encouragement for girls considering tech careers, and women already in tech careers.
What are your favorite resources for women in tech?