Kay lives here

working with the web

Tech Women and Macs

But not necessarily together, as you might assume from the title!

An interesting observation from Rob Rohan on the Macromedia MAX conference held last week:

There are women at the conference. Almost every developer conference
I’ve ever been to has been like 99 – 100% men. And I don’t mean women
just in the designer classes, as stereotypes would lead you to believe,
I mean in the coding classes too. I’d say it was about a 50/50 mix
between men and women at the conference. With the news talking about the
decrease of women in math and science, it was refreshing to see.

RobRohan: Max Observations

Compare this to Web Essentials 05 held in Sydney last month – admittedly a slightly different audience (the web standards set). Mostly men, but quite a few women as well – I didn’t think to look for a percentage but my gut feeling is maybe 30%. I’ll have to check with Russ and Peter on that one. But I know there was a concerted effort to get a little bit of gender balance on the speakers list as it had been all male the year before. WE05 achieved that in grand style with international superstars Molly Holzschlag and Kelly Goto, as well as Australian Lisa Herrod.

Compare again to MXDU – I’ve been to all three of them so far and when people say “make sure you say hello – I’ll be the guy with glasses/wearing a red shirt/lugging around 3 powerbooks/whatever” I say “you’ll be able to spot me – I’ll be the chick”. Not quite true but might as well be – it’s a very male-dominated event.

Also our ColdFusion User Group – I’m the only female who shows up with any kind of regularity. In fact I can only think of three other women who have ever turned up, in the three or more years we’ve been running. Port80 has a few chicks, but again not many regulars.

This is the reason that Megs and I started Web Women – to find the female voice in the web industry. So far all we’ve actually done is have geeky chatty lunches and breakfasts – but that’s a definite start, finding all these women and getting them out and talking about the experience of being a chick in a male-dominated industry.

So what does this have to do with Apple Macs? Nothing really! Rob Rohan also talks about the huge number of mac user developers at MAX:

There were tons of Apple computers there. I’d say it was about a 60/40
split with PC’s being on top. And not one ibook – all powerbooks. I was
blown away by the number of Mac’s there, and again, not just the
designers as homogenized stereotype would have you believe – they were
in coding classes as well.

RobRohan: Max Observations

Well, I definitely saw this at Web Essentials – except I’d say it was closer to 90% Macs and only 10% PCs. I had my trusty Tablet PC – still hanging on, nearly three years old and definitely looking the worse for wear on the exterior, but still trucking operationally – and I was surprised to find myself sitting next to another Tablet user (coincidentally, also female) at one of the sessions. I read a blog post some time later from a “DonnaM”:

yes, I’m completely happy to demo my tablet – I do love it for geek and functional reasons

DonnaM: Web essentials 05 – Day 1

I fired off a comment apologising for not having time to introduce myself properly at the time, being a fellow TabletPC user AND a chick at that – and it turns out that wasn’t the person I sat next to. Which means there was yet another female TabletPC user at WE05. Whoa – we’re taking over.

Seriously though, as a PC user – and quite a fanatical one as well, I love my Tablet and would never go back to a non-penabled notebook – I definitely felt like a black sheep. People would say things like “oh, Apple might make a TabletPC” as though that would be preferable and I’d finally be able to have a real computer despite my oddities. Sorry people, I actually like Windows and won’t be switching anytime soon. That’s definitely not trendy these days!

So there you go – I’m in two minorities now, in the web industry that is – I’m female AND a happy Windows user!

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