I started writing a comment in response to Molly’s blog “Where are the women of CSS“ but when it started to become something of an essay I thought I’d move it here!
Molly asks why are there so few women ‘names’ in the CSS community and as a woman … who happens to have just finished writing a CSS book … I think there are several factors at play. I think it would be fair to say that there are fewer women involved in technology than men, particularly at the more geeky level. People are generally surprised that I am a web developer and not a designer as they see a lot of women who are web designers and far fewer who get their kicks from application development. So there are going to be fewer at the top just because there are fewer by percentage.
Secondly, and this is something of a generalisation based on people I have spoken to, I think women are often less happy to self-promote, so less likely to become a ‘name’ even if they are doing lots of great stuff. Speaking personally I’m a doer – I don’t really care whether my name is on stuff I have done, if it needed doing at the time, and I tend to miss the obvious ways to raise my profile because of things I have done. All of the writing that I have done has been because someone has approached me and suggested it, I don’t run around trying to find things to do.
There is also a time issue. The people who I would think of as the big names are able to devote time to contributing in substantial ways to the community, either by providing resources or writing opinion pieces etc. and being at and speaking at events. Many women have family commitments that prevent this, or make it much harder. By the time I have done the work that needs doing to run my business, my writing commitments, done school runs, sat through yet another dance performance to watch the Small Person, taken her to choir practice, ensured she eats something sensible … the time I have to spend on other things is minimal. I know there are some men in that position too, but (again from experience and people I know) these things do still tend to end up being left to women in the main. Although I think anyone (male or female) will agree that having a family does change your priorities!
At the end of the day I don’t feel discriminated against. If I was asked for a list it would probably include very few women just because I would include all those whose resources I use a lot … and they happen to be blokes! It would be very frustrating if, for example, I was putting as much effort into work out there in the community and wasn’t recognised, but I’m not. I do think there are two issues here and I’d be interested in which other people feel is the case.
Are there fewer high profile women in CSS because there are just fewer women interested in and using this technology, or that have time to contribute?
Or, are there fewer high profile women in CSS because women are not respected as much as men and even those doing equal amounts of work in the community are taken less notice of?