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GeeCON - the blog

Monday, 28 May 2012

girls@geecon get-together

Attendants list
It has been a few days since GeeCON ended and I finally managed to have some well-deserved sleep, so now I am ready to write this little diary.

As some of you might have noticed, we held a little girls get-together during the lunch break of conference day 1. First of all, sorry to any and all of the female GeeCON participants who did not know about this meeting and would have liked to attend. I did what I could: I contacted all the ticket winners (5 Google grants, 2 extra tickets on our side), placed the 'poster' on the birthday room door, approached a few girls in the Multikino corridor, and tweeted like crazy. I did not want to spam all attendants for many reasons, including the fact that I am fully aware how a number of IT girls for different reasons want nothing to do with initiatives like this one.

So, we met, we ate, we talked. We saw a number of very happy male faces peeking through the birthday room glass door :) We also had some clashes of opinions. At lest one of us (also: the one who has the most expertise in using female-oriented Google grants ;) ) thinks that women are in no way discriminated against in IT, and that the grants and other initiatives like it are sexist and unnecessary, though appreciated. Most of the girls, however, think that the situation ('the situation' being the small percentage of women in the field; more or less 30 out of 500 people at GeeCON were ladies!) does not reflect the natural predisposition of society members. Not all of the girls have hardcore stories like mine (about quasi-programmer or girls who can only deal with picking out colours), but almost everybody has experienced the difference in the attitude. Also, most of us would like to work in more gender-balanced teams.

Girls get-together in one of the birthday rooms :)
So, if we were to come up with a manifesto, what would that be? Here are 4 main points I think most of us agreed upon during the lunch-break meeting, and also a smaller afternoon out on conference day 2:
  1. Parities are nonsense, but there are more girls fit (and happy in favourable circumstances) to do IT than what we see now.
  2. We are not saying there are not differences between men and women, but members of both sexes can become great programmers or visionaries in computer science.
  3. It is very important to monitor early education stages and eliminate concious and subconcious hints sent by parents and teachers, assigning girls to 'softer' crafts or praising them only for looking good (and boys for being intelligent and creative).
  4. We (girls) have to become just a little more self-confident, including starting our sentences with 'I know that' instead of 'I think that'.
So, to sum this up, we had a nice time together. For me it was wonderful to talk about what the situation (see the definition above) is in other countries. I am really looking forward to doing this during the next GeeCON, or some other conferences during the year too, perhaps? And maybe the next time, we could even invite the speakers? :)
After the conference, in Kuchnia dla Dragona
On a finishing note: I felt quite good seeing that this one time there was a huge line to the men's toilet, even after they took 'spare' resources from us and let guys use half of the girls' room! ;)


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