Monday, January 21, 2008

Why BlogHer is also for men

Every now and then there will be a BlogHer member who wonders why men are "allowed" to come to BlogHer events or participate on the site etc. They see our name and, somewhat understandably, think we are an organization only for women.

My standard reply has always been that men can be feminists too, and that men can support BlogHer's mission of creating opportunities for women too, and that men sometimes can deliver those opportunities. Men are not the enemy, they just are not the only creatures blogging, in tech, and/or online, who should be recognized, valued and given their props.

I also often say that I imagine some day our policy of 100% women speakers at our events will no longer be necessary, and that some day when we do our post-conference surveys and ask attendees how they feel about that policy (which we do after every single conference) they will not so resoundingly say it must stay.

But I digress a bit, because what I started out wanting to point you to is an example of a man who has taken the initiative to support some techie women in his community of Vancouver. Kris Krug from Raincity Studios noted that a list of British Columbia techies to watch in 2008, as presented by techvibes, is exclusively male. And Kris has a few things to say about it (admittedly after a female friend pointed out the homogenous nature of the list):
Glaringly missing from the list however was a mention of a single woman on the list of all gents. Are the women judged differently? Are there no techie women doing exemplary work in Vangroovy? Are there women working in tech who are more deserving of placement then the fellas populating the list?

These are big questions i daren't tackle here but suffice to say, {old man voice} I've been around this industry long enough to know that ... {/old man voice} collaboration with smart, inspired women increases the range of thought when making strategic decisions particularly on (in my experience) within information and communication focused-projects. Especially contrasted with the (ugh) prototypical "dude-fest" atmosphere of some tech companies, I find when women are involved, the conversation get better and the quality of work ultimately increases.

Along with the women we work with who have incredible communication skills (who'd have thunk it? ;-)), there are women working in Vancouver with the coding chops to roll with anyone and (like their geekboy counterparts) are passionate, informed and enthused about the nuances of code and the politics of open source.

Kris proceeds to list a bunch of BC geeky women, including some I know (Alexandra and Susie) and most I don't...great fodder for future speaker prospecting! :)

I don't remember what led me to this link in the first place, as by now it's a couple of weeks old, but my point is that we are all in this together...all our worlds improve when we open ourselves up to more diverse thinking and practices. I've written on this subject many times before: You have to believe in the value of diversity to actually prioritize it, and I appreciate that Kris outlined why he believes in its value.

Thanks, Kris, for this great list of techie women, which will hopefully be a resource for a lot more people than just me, humble BlogHer programming pasha :)

A couple of my old posts around the value of diversity:

The silver lining can be raised consciousness
Conference organizers make my head explode
Update: Conference diversity, Office 2.0 etc.

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I welcome your decision that, Men's are welcome to BlogHer events. I'm feminist, and I really want to give some participation towards your mission. I consider this as a first step to allow us to participate the BlogHer events...
Breakdown Recovery
my pleasure and thx for the post. :)
Glad you enjoyed the Women to Watch list - hope to meet ya in real life at one of the endless stream of techie events here in Vangroovy.
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