OpenWest

I think I missed yesterday’s post. I was hanging out with a few of my favorite geeks til I crashed.

OpenWest, originally Utah Open Source Conference which I helped organize for several years, has grown to more than 1,000 participants.

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I am pleased to see open technology growing! I could be more proud, though. If I’m eyeballing this correctly, roughly 2% of attendees* are female, despite all kinds of effort to encourage women and girls to join us. Honestly I’m a bit ashamed that I have not helped this year, and I’m ashamed I didn’t encourage more of my female friends to come.

My niece came by to see me just before my talk and asked, “What is going on with the lack of women here?” She is a microbiologist, and explained that while her field is predominately male, it’s nothing like this.

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I would venture to guess, too, that a high percentage of the women at the conference are speakers there, like me. So the ratio of male to female attendees is likely far worse.

I would say it’s a Utah thing, but it’s not. This is a thing in computer science. I know as well as anyone that a vocal minority of men in this field have made it a bit hostile for women, but I know the OpenWest organizers are pouring their hearts and souls into stopping that in our community. It’s got to be something more than that. But I know it’s nothing to do with our capabilities.

Maybe I’m just being impatient. Maybe if we analyzed the demographics from this year and years’ past we would see steady progress. Maybe (if I can get my new family life organized!) I’ll jump in and help again for 2015, look at stats from previous years, and try to identify some patterns that we could influence. Here’s hoping one day finding women in this crowd won’t feel like a game of Where’s Waldo. 🙂

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Edit: here’s some good news! @SaraDansieJones just tweeted me:

@supernovia Great article. Could you mention that official registration was 9% women? I’d people to know that we are improving!

9 percent! Where are they? Maybe they just need another nudge to get here?