So. I dropped out of the conference scene by and large for a few years for a variety of reasons. The last couple of years I have been returning to it. I’m just home from two conferences in three weeks.
I am not an extrovert, at conferences, I like to hang around with individuals or small groups. And I am drawn to smart weird people, because reasons. I am one of those people who prefers intimacy and authenticity in my interactions. Many of those smart weird people are women. The barriers to entry in our trade have the unfortunate positive value for me that it is far easier for me to find smart weird likable open people who happen to be women.
So we hang, in pairs or just small groups. And we talk. And over the course of these conversations, personal stories necessarily emerge.
I’m an old white american male computer geek. My rap sheet spills onto several pages w.r.t. Sexism, racism, privilege, unawareness, unkindness, all the topics we are turning to in the trade. I am very far from being without sin. Even now, I find new ways i’m being mean every day.
But the stories these friends of mine tell me just stagger me.
In nearly every conversation with these women I hear some story that makes me want to go up to the room and cry. Or if i’m feeling the other way, go up to someone and hit them.
I constantly find myself saying, "wait, WHAT!?!? That HAPPENED!?!?" it breaks my heart.
These stories are not old stories. This is stuff that happened today, or yesterday, or last week. And they’re not remotely "exceptional".
I know that some of my friends & followers don’t know these stories, their reality, their prevalence, or the awful experience they create in the world for your fellow geeks.
Go find out.
Make a space that’s safe for you to listen and safe for them to speak. Don’t reason, or defend, or explain what you’re hearing.
Listen and feel.
Just listen and feel.
We have to change this.