Discussion Panel: Women In Rails

Desi McAdam (Hashrocket Inc and DevChix Inc), Sarah Mei (Ministry of Velocity), Lori Olson (The WNDX Group Inc.)
General
Location: Ballroom B
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 18 ratings)

A general question like “How do we get more women into technology?”
isn’t actually useful for our community. Discussion usually devolves
into nature vs. nurture, then affirmative action, and it all goes
south from there.

So in this session we get down to brass tacks: how specifically can we
bring more female programmers into the Rails community? How can we get
them to come to RailsConf? Why aren’t they here already?

You’ll hear from the folks whose voices are often not heard when this
question is asked: the women themselves who are already here. Bring
your ideas and questions!

Photo of Desi McAdam

Desi McAdam

Hashrocket Inc and DevChix Inc

I am founder of DevChix.com and one of the software developers at Hashrocket.

Photo of Sarah Mei

Sarah Mei

Ministry of Velocity

Sarah Mei has been a software developer for fifteen years and a Ruby/JavaScript developer for seven. A founder of RailsBridge, an initiative to bring more diversity to the Ruby community, she’s a recent Pivotal Labs alum and is now running The Ministry of Velocity, a small software consultancy. She lives in San Francisco near the beach, where it is never warm enough to go swimming.

Photo of Lori Olson

Lori Olson

The WNDX Group Inc.

Tried Ruby/Rails as an alternative to further Java development 3.5 years ago and never looked back.

(The rest of this is my corporate bio, and I don’t like it, but I’m too lazy to write something more fun)

As Senior Software Architect at Labrador Technologies since 2005, Lori brings over 22 years experience in end-to-end software development and 16 years of object oriented programming and design experience. One of the founders of the Calgary Ruby User Society, she has been designing and implementing web applications using Ruby on Rails for over 3 years. Prior to joining Labrador, Lori worked for a variety of companies and industries, including Halliburton, IBM, IHS, and Shell Canada. She is a Sun Certified Java Programmer with over 8 years of Java, Swing, and J2EE experience. Some of her particular areas of interest include optimizing software development processes and usage centered design. She holds a B.Sc (Honors) in Computer Science from the University of Calgary.

Lori is also a member of Embarcadero’s TeamB, providing knowledgeable, accurate, service-oriented assistance to the JBuilder & 3rdRail communities. She frequently presents topics of interest at the Calgary Ruby User Society, and has spoken at the CodeRage and COSSFEST conferences on Ruby on Rails mapping topics.

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Comments

Picture of Desi McAdam
Desi McAdam
05/07/2009 1:04pm PDT

Thanks Josh and Peter for the feedback.

Picture of Suzanne Axtell
Suzanne Axtell
05/07/2009 9:02am PDT

The video of the discussion is now available for viewing: railsconf.blip.tv/file/2082207

Picture of Sarah Mei
Sarah Mei
05/06/2009 6:17pm PDT

I did say that the NY Times noted a correlation between the rise of gaming culture and the decline of women enrolled in CS programs. As we all know correlation is not causation.

Here’s the article for reference (go to bugmenot.com for a NYT login): www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/...

Picture of Lori Olson
Lori Olson
05/05/2009 2:17pm PDT

Thanks, Peter, but that was Desi, not me ;-)

I’m not sure that we were looking for conclusions, per se, but some tools to use to combat the problem.

Josh French
05/05/2009 2:04pm PDT

I suspect the community was looking for a little closure on recent events without belaboring the topic. Great job keeping the discussion focussed on the long-term issues.

Picture of Peter Cooper
Peter Cooper
05/05/2009 2:00pm PDT

Reasonable session. Very charming panel with some nice stories to tell. Some conclusions drawn on anecdotal evidence (a fall in female enrollment to CS courses is due to gaming culture? Sounds a bit like action movies dissuading women from becoming filmmakers to me..) Questions asked by audience were rather poor and no real conclusions were drawn, but a massive thumbs up to Lori Olson for telling DHH to keep his mouth shut :)

Picture of Lori Olson
Lori Olson
05/04/2009 3:06pm PDT

How about this:

tinyurl.com/c6hrqn

Picture of Lori Olson
Lori Olson
05/04/2009 3:04pm PDT

Add your questions, or vote on others to our “Google Moderator panel page”: moderator.appspot.com/#15/e=5f3e8&t=5f3e9&f=5b55e

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