"RTFM" for women in tech

29 February 2012, 23:30

Check out my shiny new Moo cards!

"RTFM" for geek feminism Moo cards 1/2

Front: pink background, RTFM in large white letters
Back: White background, pink text that says the wikigeekfeminism.wikia.comthe bloggeekfeminism.org

I kinda love Moo cards. They’re just so darn cute. I hadn’t even finished up using my old set when I ordered a new set. Then in the spirit of creation I decided to make these ones up too.

The idea for them came to me after LCA had a Haecksen miniconf which included its second “Allies workshop” for men. I had quite a few conversations with men about topics related to “women in tech”. Then a couple of weeks ago Free Software Melbourne had a discussion on the topic encouraging women. I was kind of leery of it being horrible but I went for an hour early on (double-booked with my book club :)) and it wasn’t, I’m glad to say.

But the discussion at both LCA and FSM contrasts sharply with the discussion at AdaCamp, an unconference organised by the Ada Initiative shortly before LCA, or even the Girl Geek Dinners Melbourne planning session that I went to this evening. It’s not just that the conversation is different when I have it with women; it’s different when I have it with people that have bothered to do any reading about the topic at all.

It’s like if you went to a Python meetup and all people wanted to talk about was “whoa, significant whitespace!” “No truly private class variables!” “Isn’t developing in an interpreted language awesome?!” “How about that integer division, huh?”

At some point it’s nice to have a discussion where those things are a given. GF wiki page Feminism 101 discussions says they “can be exhausting and demoralising for feminists and allies”. I would add they can just be repetitive and boring and for that reason, frustrating.

Nobody knows everything about everything or even anything about everything. I’m not trying to say men should never talk to women in tech about issues regarding women in tech. But what I am saying is if you are interested enough to take part in such conversations, maybe you should be interested enough to subscribe to a blog or cruise around a wiki occasionally. Look, I’ll even start you off: Elementary mistakes in feminist discussion.

RTFM” is pretty much the geek way of saying you have a responsibility to educate yourself which I have heard many times in relation to social justice topics. I like to think the bright pink takes the edge off the abruptness of the (implied) message.

I took my cards to the GGD tonight which was hosted at inspire9 (I totally see what all the fuss around these folks is about) and happened to meet Desi McAdam, who founded DevChix! How amaze! I was stoked to be able to give her some and since I’ve done that, I thought I should blog about it. And if you run into me sometime just ask me for some cards if you feel like you’d like to distribute some. :)

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  1. Note to self: acquire some of these before HOPE.

    — Mackenzie · Mar 1, 08:52 AM · #

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