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I’m not a Woman

So this may come as a shock, but I’m not a woman. I’m not black, Hispanic, Indian, gay, or really any real grouping of diversity. I’m a white, straight male. I learned this on Twitter tonight, that this is who I am. I am an oppressor, because I am white, and a male.

Nevermind the fact that I am a huge fan of PHPWomen, supporter of Women Who Code, DrupalNG, and numerous diversity programs within the developer community. I am also clueless, as I found out via Twitter, despite having these conversations at minimum once a week.

Of course I am also “highly educated, from rich parents,” despite growing up broke, working minimum wage for years, and being a college dropout. And “I hate women… I don’t think they belong in the industry,” despite some of the people I respect the most being *gasp* WOMEN! Despite working for a company where several of the software engineers are *gasp* women, and the director of engineering is a woman, and an Indian woman at that. Oh and my last job, yeah, my manager also a woman.

A friend of mine recently announce this conference called TRUCE Conference, with the idea that it is time to sit down and have this conversation in a formal setting, bring in leaders outside of the community, and start a TRUE dialogue. Not the dialogue that is best described as angry and blaming, but a rational, logical dialogue… after all, as developers, shouldn’t we be applying the same logic to our lives and conversations that we do our code?

There is a LOT of inequality in the developer community, I don’t think ANYONE questions that. The ratio of white males to non-white, or non–female is disappointing to say the least. But there are people in the community that not only are open to that changing, not only want to change, but are actively working and seeing better ways to make it better, to make our community more diverse… Perhaps for me it’s selfish, but I believe diversity brings ideas, and allows us to expand beyond our own way of thinking – and that’s what this industry is all about, not just reinventing the wheel, but making it better. Making software that can be used by EVERYONE, and changing the world for good.

I think it’s important to remember that as passionate as we are, each person is unique, and the second we judge a book by it’s cover, we fall into the very same trap we are trying to warn others against. We fall into the very same category of those we hate. We fall into this trap that counters change, counters improvement, and justifies letting things stay the way they are. No matter what side of the demographic we fall on.

We as a community should be working to make things better as a whole. I’m a white-male, I don’t know the struggles that many of our diverse programmers face… what I do know is that they are my respected colleagues, that I am grateful for them, and that I want to see things get better. But it will only get better when we stop seeing everyone as different, and stop seeing them as the enemy, and instead are willing to open a dialogue to better understand who they are, and resolve the many misconceptions that exist on all sides.

Just my two cents… and I apologize if I just don’t get “genderism” here, I mean I only went to school to be a nurse, had all female instructors, and was one of four males in my class of 200… That’s just one reason why I am outspoken and want things to change in the tech industry, because I don’t want the lack of diversity and understanding I went through to be imposed on the great minds of today that want to be part of such a great, and creative community.

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