[Pdx-pm] Ask For It

Daniel Johnson teknotus at gmail.com
Thu Jan 15 16:24:19 PST 2009

>> I'm willing to change myself a bit to accomodate the culture, but the
>> culture has not changed at all to accomodate me, and that's why "the sooner
>> they learn this stuff, the better off we all will be!" hit a wrong note
>> with me.  Until there's a little give on each side, expect to see a
>> persistent lack of diversity in this field.

Unfortunately the usual route to get the base skills become a
programmer is to take classes, and those classes will usually be
taught in an environment fully enclosed by the culture as it now
exists.  I've been having some success with mentoring women with
technology including programming.  I think part of that success is
avoiding the typical cultural environment.  Whatever negatives they
face are ones I brought, so I only have to focus on fixing my own
behavior not the behavior of the whole community.  When I mentioned my
mentoring efforts at the meeting Allison Randal said that mentoring
made a big difference for her when she was learning.  We should all be
aware of a few of her accomplishments.

> I wish I had something better to add to this discussion than what Addie has
> said, but it's satisfying to agree completely.
> With that said, are there specific ideas or practices that PDX.pm (or other
> communities of which we are part) can do to encourage everyone who may be
> interested but isn't a middle-class white male age 21 - 45 to participate more
> fully in the community?

Something I've noticed is that at a lot of meetings there seem to be a
lot more people who want to share than people who want to listen.  It
is rare for me to get help from anyone else, or feel like I have an
opportunity to be helpful at a user group meeting.  I certainly have
learned things at meetings, but most don't seem to be structured well
to work through the problems of people who come.  The primary
exceptions to this rule have been pdxlug (inactive), and dorkbot.

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