It's always interesting how good ideas come about. Today I spent the majority of my AM at the Microsoft Web Dev Summit, an event where Microsoft hosted several PHP rockstars for a few days to talk to them about what we're doing to advance PHP both inside and outside of MSFT (and then have them tell us what the hell we need to start doing). It was a great event, but when I looked around the room, there were only 2 women representing the community, to the 23 men that were in attendance.
This afternoon Debbie Moynihan(a good friend of mine from days WAY back at IBM and also countless OSCONs, ApacheCons, and JavaOnes) called to discuss some of MSFT's efforts around Open Source, and of course we ended up on the topic of... women in technology. We started talking about FooCamps, and BarCamps, and how women just weren't well represented at many of these events - not because organizers weren't inviting them, but purely because so often, I think women in technology are overlooked or possibly aren't as outspoken as many men that are in the field. (As my team at MSFT would say, this is probably not me :) ).
So THEN I get on Twitter later this evening, only to find that Andrew McAfee had sent me a linkabout how the women in CS is on the decrease. And this really got me - it is just a shame, across the board, how many women out there are either dropping out of CS or technical fields or purely not even entering them. Speaking for myself, I always did pretty well in both Math and Science courses (albeit Biology) but I never even got into computers until I moved to San Francisco and started working in VC and then literally fell into work in developer relations at BEA. Needless to say, the third hint's a charm, and so now I'm ready to take Debbie's and my plan into action...
I want to get a small group of women together to start organizing a Women's Only BarCamp. This is a technical BarCamp - I'm not talking about this lightweight type of Web 2.0 technology, unless you're actually building or really product managing a product out there.
I'm in the weeds of technology every day (Group PM of Web Platform & Standards at MSFT) - sorting out how to build solutions in different languages (and why one language over another is better based on solutions), figuring out how to support web developers at MSFT through Open Source apps, and digging into benefits of why one product over another. Oh, and not to mention making them all work together (or figuring out why they do or don't). And I want to bring together other women who are doing the same thing. Not only that, I am seeing a major shift in the focus of technology from the type of Web 2.0 ("I built a mashup so now I'm cool") stuff out there back to real basics of developing great software and a refocus on Open Source, and I really want this camp to reflect the women out there that are the great minds behind this.
So here's the deal:
- Microsoft has offered to donate some space - still TBD on if it will be in Redmond or Silicon Valley, but we DO have office space with WiFi (!!)
- If you're interested in becoming part of the core planning team, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org the subject line "Women's BarCamp" - and please only contact me if (1) you're willing to donate your time and (2) you actually are involved in technology of some sort as outlined above.
- Stay tuned here for more information!
Oh, and FYI, I got my first LOLCat yesterday. I'm kind of proud :) thanks #MSWDS attendees for making it an awesome week!