Not being an asshole is not enough
About Ellen König
Full-time web developer, part-time psychology student and Rails Girls organizer + coach. A lifelong nerd, I have been working in tech for over 10 years now, doing pretty much anything from coding to customer support to computer science research. All along, I have been deeply intrigued about why there are so few of my type in this field, and what can be done to make community I love more inclusive and diverse.
The Ruby community has for several years been on the forefront of encouraging women to pick up coding - and the good news is, more and more women use the opportunities and pick up basic coding skills. Yet it is another big step for them to become professional developers or contributors to the tech community. And the bad news, Statistics show that women are leaving the tech sector at higher rates than they are entering it (and also at much higher rates than men). Again, there is good news: Nowadays, a good part the tech community seems to be very aware its lack of diversity and eager to change it. But what exactly can we do to debug the situation?
There are widely-published, extremely frustrating cases of overt discrimination and harassment in the tech community, yet fortunately this is not something every woman in tech experiences. While this is good news as well, it is also bad news because it means that the now common advice of „Don’t be an asshole“ is not enough to solve the problem. Instead, research in the fields of psychology and linguistics suggests that there are some general "bugs" in the ways we think, perceive and interact that explain why women feel uncomfortable entering and staying in technical roles. Now that we found a bug hiding somewhere deep in our minds, what can we do about it? In my talk, I will propose some „workarounds“ to deal with this "bug", falling into three categories: What any member of the tech community can do, what women in particular can do and what community leaders can do.