Tim pointed me at the article on devchix about barriers women face in tech communities; it’s certainly sparked a lot of interest and reactions out there.
My reaction was two-fold: one was to think “is that how most women are?” To understand that, you have to remember that I’ve spent my entire life past the age of 17 in groups that were predominantly male, first in physics, and then in computers. I’ve often discovered that I look at things one way and some woman I talk to about it will see it quite differently. So until I read some reactions to this article, I thought maybe it explained something about the way women-only groups work that I didn’t know about, since I’m not actually in any (even the bookclub I’m in is has men and wouldn’t feel right to me if it didn’t; the only groups I’ve been in recently that were only women were knitting classes and those only last a short time).
The second reaction was that she makes some fairly strong statements that are testable (there’s that physics background coming out):
I have experimented with this myself using a male pseudonym to post articles, and being told that the articles are informative, useful, great. Six months later I republish the exact same article, using a different title and a female pseudonym, and suddenly the article is horrible, technically incorrect, useless. Itâ€™s a fascinating study.
It’s actually a hard thing to test. Many people publish articles on their blogs, so they can’t suddenly change their name and gender for that; where else do people publish these days? How much of publishing information is about reputation, where the readers say the person has been right about other things in the past, probably is about this as well? That also doesn’t enable switching identities readily. I would like to see some actual data and testing of the proposition, and not just from one person.
Shelley wrote up her reaction; read both the articles as well as some of the comments and links for a fuller view. [At first I wrote “balanced view”, but until we know more about the issues, who’s to say where the centre (and therefore the balance point) is?]