I wanted to post earlier, even though I won’t be able to join the Association but I didn’t have the time to write what I wanted. I am NOT a developer, though I’m pretty technical. I’m writer, designer, and online entrepreneur and what not, so more or less I do have a connection to Web development, though not as a developer. After you go up and running, I can help with an article aimed at young females (and their parents) who are considering an IT career, not necessarily in Web development only. I don’t know if I should be proud or not but I’ve been a role model for a few girls who went in IT - some of them didn’t stay here for long because of various reasons but the others are quite OK (or at least this is what they tell me :)).
I could tell my story how I ended in IT and how the WRONG role model could do a lot of damage. My mother was in IT when I was a kid and she wanted me to go there, too. However, since me and my mother are very different, I somehow don’t perceive her as a role model - even up until this day. In a sense, since we are so different, what’s good for her, how could it be good for me? She was way too smart to bully me into computers but she tried more subtle ways to do it. To me this felt like a manipulation, which is even worse. I wouldn’t even hear about computers. In fact, I have a C or D in IT in my high school diploma. My mother almost killed me back then!
She wouldn’t have failed that much, if she didn’t have an accomplice - my maths teacher. I didn’t know it back then but there is a joke that women in science/maths/programming are like Guinea pigs (i.e. neither a pig, nor Guinean, neither a woman, nor a programmer). (http://www.genderforum.org/print/issues/gender-and-humour/women-scientists-resemble-guinea-pigs/?print=1) When later (in my 20s), when I was already in IT, I heard this for the first time from a male co-worker, though it wasn’t addressed directly at me, I went ballistic because I didn’t see the humor in it. So, my maths teacher was really like a Guinea pig - she was repulsive as a woman, not too great at maths, and on top of this, she didn’t know how to handle a wild female student, like my humble persona.
Basically, me and my high school maths teacher were at war and because of her, there was a risk for me not to graduate from this highly prestigious high school I attended. I didn’t even want to hear about maths, computers, or any of these. I liked physics really a lot but since it involved maths, it was not an option. I wanted to study law - as I now can explain my choice, not only because I liked it, had already familiarized myself with lots of areas of law but because my favorite aunt, to whom I could relate, was a lawyer and journalist.
I didn’t get to study law because I didn’t get accepted in a state university where the tuition fees were decent (because I didn’t study hard, if at all, for the exams) and my father wouldn’t even hear of paying the outrageous fees at some of the private universities simply because I’d been too irresponsible not to prepare myself properly for the exams. To make a long story short, I graduated from a business school with a minor in journalism (the aunt connection :)). A couple of years later I did get one more useless paper for my diploma collection, this time in IT.
Then I went to work for a NGO, where I was the only female. This is the best team I’ve ever been in! One of the guys - much older, in fact his children were older than me, is the person I am thankful for life because he awoke my interest in computers. He did the miracle to open my eyes that computers are fun, I can handle them and I can enjoy this. And I repeat, he managed to achieve this, without even aiming to, after the damage my maths teacher and partially my mother did to me. I sometimes joke that this guy is like a spiritual father to me because I owe him my profession.
This is one reason why I side with some of the posters before me that a women-only organization is not a good idea. As it is true that a good role model from the same gender can help, a bad one can cause a lot of damage. It’s also true that sometimes the opinion/example/patience of the opposite gender can influence you more. And this comes from a female, who is/was not only boyish in the good sense but who as a kid/teen was wilder than probably 80 per cent of the boys in the neighborhood. I guess if my Mom had told me, “Don’t go into computers, this is for boys only!”, I would have jumped straight into IT.
In addition to my personal story how I got into IT, one more reason why a female-only organization is not a good idea (in my opinion) is that basically I agree with what erikasf wrote about her experience in nursing. The last time I was in a female-mainly situation was a cat forum, where stupidity and melodrama was pouring from all directions. You can’t imagine how malicious some females can be towards someone who doesn’t share their opinion! Claws were out at full speed. Simply disgusting! True some of the members of this forum were uneducated women but there were lawyers, teachers, accountants and similar who weren’t better.
I had worked in teams with some (or maybe too many) female developers and I do have mixed feelings about this. As there were really brilliant ones, there were some whose existence unfortunately fuels misogyny. So when I hear we need more women in IT in general - because there is more to IT than Web development, I am not certain if all these bimbos belong there. They cause much damage and in fact they make it harder for the ladies who are really good at development, design, system administration, etc.
In one of my previous jobs, where I was a QA, Tech Support, and Sys Admin, one of the male co-workers - a developer and a guy with a brain - wouldn’t even hear to have his computer reinstalled by a woman. I was surprised because I knew he had a brain but didn’t get insulted by his reaction. As a sys admin, it was my job to reinstall his computer but I saw no point to argue with him. I just told him to ask the boss, if the boss was OK with him wasting his time on reinstalling his computer and if the boss is OK, I’m more than fine.
My coworker did need some assistance for the reinstall because he was too smart to know that the trial and error approach doesn’t work and he came to ask the other colleagues for advice. Since all the other coleagues were developers, who were not familiar with all the latest and greatest bugs in Windows and the ways around them simply because they didn’t have to, I answered some of his questions, shocked him with the fact that I do know a lot, and we clarified his initial reaction. As it turned out, he had had quite a lot of negative experiences with female sys admins and service technicians and this is why he reacted in such a strange way.
This is why I say that you can have too many females in IT. As if the male bimbos in IT were not enough.
Finally, let me repeat what I started with. If you want, I can write for the Association an article aimed at young ladies (or ladies in general) who are considering a career in IT. Just to clear any doubts, I won’t charge you for this article, this will be my 2 cents for the cause.