This was not OK (regrets)

I have one major regret from StrangeLoop. I want to apologize and find a kinder way to be.

At dinner the last night, I said something mean about Tony Morris. I’ve never met Tony Morris. I have a feeling of certainty that he was mean to people in the Scala community, and this contributed to a splintering of the community. I am not in favor of communities including or elevating people who are mean to anyone else. See Pieter Hintjens on this.
And I was wrong to speak scornfully of him. I can see this because I saw the hurt in Philip Wadler when I said it. Later he mentioned collaborating with Tony Morris on some important work.
People aren’t all bad or all good. Some of us are horrible and fantastic. Mean in some situations and great contributors elsewhere. The good and the bad, they don’t cancel each other. Both exist. We are not a sum; there is not a one-dimensional number line between “good” and “bad.” 
If he caused a splintering in a community, then probably that community is better off without his direct participation. And if he collaborated on great work with someone else, or did great work alone, I am grateful for it. 
If I denigrate him or that work, by implication or indirectly, then I am causing splintering in the community. I ruined a chance to exchange ideas with Philip Wadler, who was extremely kind to me (he even didn’t show his hurt feelings) and who invited me to that dinner. Who is bringing excellent ideas, in code and in talks, to the whole programming community. Who is wide open to new ideas and experiments.
I don’t yet know the best way to talk about these community problems, which are very important to discuss. Now I know that it is not by denigrating or scorning anyone. I need, I feel it in my soul, to celebrate everyone in the times when they shine, to cherish the contributions they do make, even when they don’t shine in every situation. We can celebrate this without perfect inclusivity (there is no such thing). I deserve to be excluded from that dinner; it would have made everyone else more comfortable, a net win for the community. And separately, I do help in other ways. Can’t belong everywhere. 
I am sorry. I see that my words caused pain and it’s my fault. In the future I will endeavor to not speak scornfully of anyone. To criticize actions and people-in-roles only when working on improving the system, not a whole person ever. To deal with my own experience of being bullied instead of lashing out whenever my brain makes an association with it. 
I want to be a source of healing and encouragement to a community, not further splinter it. Thank you for your patience. 

This is not OK

After the first session at StrangeLoop, I ran downstairs, heading for the side of the lobby with the women’s restroom. I had to pee. Halfway there I looked up; it said “Men’s Restroom.” Turned around: “Men’s Restroom.” Wait a minute.

The venue converted the women’s room into a men’s to alleviate overcrowding. They did not ask the conference organizers. The ushers remarked later that it was the first time they’d ever changed the main women’s room into a men’s, while the other way around was common enough.

Trapped between two men’s rooms, I flipped out. I had to pee and this was NOT OK. An usher pointed me around the corner, where the Family Restroom was relabeled “Ladies.” It was a one-seater.

There was no line.

That day in the Family Restroom I threw a fit. Hurled my water bottle at the wall and screamed, “This is not OK!”

StrangeLoop is the most awesome of programming conferences, with less “you can use this in your day job tomorrow” and more “you can think about this for months and then it will embiggen everything you do.” Seven of the speakers at the conference were women, better than the local conferences I’ve attended this year. Thirty or forty women attended, of over a thousand. 3%.

I exited that bathroom and looked around at the sea of men, and it looked different than ten minutes before. Ten minutes ago it was expected. Now it was NOT OK.

There are women in programming. Usually there are a few other women wherever I’ve worked, something like 15%. (More at Amdocs, which was an Israeli company.) Look at the women who attend conferences, and there are fewer, around 10%. Take a highly technical, serious-about-this conference like StrangeLoop, and we’re down to 3%.  Speakers at technical conferences are somewhere between 3-10%, partly because organizers recognize that women speakers are a good influence on the industry and bring more women attendees.

The rest of the conference, I veered far from my usual mode of operation. Instead of talking among my friends and targeting mostly men to meet, I chased down women in hallways to say hello. Ines Sombra suggested over twitter a gathering for drinks that evening, and it became my mission to invite every woman I saw.

Saint Louis has a vibrant software industry, especially lately. We have a shocking variety of user groups; I’ve spoken at six this year. There’s a group for every ecosystem and favored text editor. Across the board, attendance is 30-50, yet if I see another woman I get excited. At first, people thought I was a recruiter. Extroverted female at a programming group? It was a reasonable assumption.

Monday evening at StrangeLoop, fourteen passionate women programmers sat around three pushed-together tables. We broke into conversations with the people nearest us. I had before never spoken with three other women about technical topics. It felt good! It felt really, really good. We considered starting a group for women in tech in St. Louis.

There aren’t enough women in programming. I applaud those who work to get more girls to choose STEM careers. (shout-out to Atomic Object, who sent a few of my favorite people to StrangeLoop.) There are initiatives to raise awareness of bias and sexism in the workplace. There is encouragement for women to speak at conferences. But what about the level above that?

There are speakers, and then there are respected thought leaders. The keynoters, the language designers, the authors of seminal texts. Where are the women there? Can you name one in this millenium?

Enrollment of women in computer science is decreasing. The women who do program move up to project management instead of architecture. Senior developers go home at five thirty while their husbands lead user groups. Why?

I want to find role models at the very top of our industry. I want to make talking tech with other women  commonplace. I want to encourage women to make programming a career. I want more women at StrangeLoop.