TL;DR: come to the Ruby women Sydney meetup (if you're a woman in Sydney and into ruby and/or rails), and please spread the word
I've been kicking around this idea for a while now.
You see, once upon a time I was a regular at the Sydney Linux Users Group - a formidable group of uberhackers. I knew almost nobody there, and due to the high skill-level of the members found it overwhelmingly scary to even think about presenting.
I was simultaneously looking into issues that women face in the workplace, and came across a couple of different books that pointed out that women, in general, tend to be more self-critical and less self-confident than their male counterparts.
It helps to have a network of other women to support you... but where can you get one in the traditionally male-dominated arena of IT uber-geekery?
Well - shortly thereafter, a number of us women in linux geekery began organising a local version of Linux chix. We just got together about half an hour before the SLUG meetup - and chatted and gave mini talks on interesting and basic linuxy topics... (nothing special)... and then all walked en masse to the SLUG meetup.
It doesn't seem like much, but it made a huge difference.
It provided a safe, conducive environment to women-geeks to introduce them to the linux community, without diving right into the deep end. It also provided a network of other women to serve as colleagues and role-models.
A couple of short years later, Sydney hosted a Linuxconf(.au) that had a remarkably large percentage of women for conferences of the kind - along with a whole mini-conf on topics relating to women in IT.
Linux-geekery was now something that women participated in too - in large (if not yet equal) numbers, and I'm quite certain that the strong networks formed at linuxchix helped with this
then I went away to the UK for three years...
Coming back to Sydney again, now part of the ruby community... I went to my first rubyconf.au and was overjoyed to hear of RailsGirls - a hackday-style initiative designed to help non-dev women get their first Rails site up and running.
...but it has come to the attention of many, that there's not much to keep interested women going after this. RailsGirls is currently working on RailsGirls-Next - to help Rails Girls participants continue working on their apps and slowly improve their skills... and alongside that - I've been working on something much more akin to the linuxchix concept:
It will be a group dedicated to women in the ruby/rails community - providing exactly the kind of supportive network and easy transition into the ruby/rails community that I think women still need.
Our first dinner meetup/discussion will be held on Wednesday 19th of March in Sydney
Please feel free to publicise the meetup far and wide, and to invite any and all women you may know.
To head off a couple of obvious responses:
What about a ruby men group?
Feel free to start one. There's nobody stopping you, and I'd certainly welcome that too.
I'd be really interested in hearing about the issues facing men in the IT industry too. I've heard especially about issues regarding fatherhood and balancing concerns of needing to appear dedicated to your job, as well spending time with your children... and also tales of unfair paternity laws (ie women are more likely to get time off for children than men are).
Can men come too?
Good question. We probably won't drive you away with pitchforks...
Personally, I'd be curious why you wanted to come. If you're there to pick up chicks - I'd be strongly against you coming. If you're there to support the needs of women in another group you run I'd happily welcome you...
but this won't be just *my* group, so others may have differing ideas about that.
Isn't it kind of exclusionary?
Yes. So is a group catering only to the interests of ruby programmers (as opposed to, say, python programmers)