I don't view myself as a radical feminist. I rarely even think of myself as a feminist. But I guess I must be. I certainly have strong views about women in IT (we need more) and about the male attitudes towards us (they need to think more).
It's astounding, sometimes, how even the most women-friendly men can write women-unfriendly stuff without thinking about it. Consider the following two snippets:
So I'm wondering if anyone with die - eval experience would like to step up and share his views on how those two paradigms compare, in a form of an engaging talk.
This may not please your manager, as he may also believe that what you want is the lowest price, and so on.
Why does someone have to be male to give a talk at a Perl Mongers meeting on die and eval? Why is a manager automatically considered to be male?
When I object to this kind of writing I get responses which tell me that of course the author didn't mean to exclude the possibility of women in those roles. That "he/she" or "they" are ugly work-arounds. And the fact is that I agree. I don't believe the author intended anything, I agree that working around language is a pest.
But even so, it bothers me. Because there is a (usually unintential) message there all the same, and it does say "Women don't speak at user group meetings" or "Women aren't managers". And even if I try not to listen I'm innudated with these messages every day. These messages (commercials, TV shows, billboards, books...) say it's the woman's job to clean the house, do the washing, iron the clothes, look after the kids. On the other hand, it's the man's role to work late at the office, play golf with friends, participate in sports, be intelligent, know how to fix computers...
There are enough messages out there discouraging women from being involved in IT at all. It's not a field where gender doesn't matter. Gender matters a lot. Which is why many women experience a lot of unwanted attention whenever they turn up to user groups or install-fests. But the whole thing would be just that much easier for us if people thought about how they wrote and tried a little harder to avoid being gender exclusionary.