So this post has been in the back of my head and it has a brother (sibling would be more appropriate) that has been brewing for what seems like months (but really its just middle of april).
So there is a great deal of discussion recently about women in technology, my job is not to weigh judgement on that exactly. My intent here is to simply recognize 4 types and their human representations that have really impressed me in this field. While this list is not exhaustive it is largely influenced by my interactions and connections with people on this list. My impression of individuals may also be skewed by my experiences with them, I hope no one is offended by the generalizations I may have to make in this post but they are done from a context of simplifying the discussion to a point where it is managable. I feel that my characterization of individuals is no more broad stroked than the average historical movie or play whereby a complex person is summarized to the point where we get a general understanding of them in an hour and a half. I hope by stating openly my biases (at least those that I am aware of) that the point of my post may shine more clearly through.
1) The Teacher : Alyssa Diaz @alycit
This type teaches everyone to program, with boots on the ground and a deep passion for spreading the knowledge of the industry, to anyone willing to listen. They encourage more women in technology by teaching everyone including women and giving them the tools to be programmers and developers. This enables people who weren’t raised as programmers to enter the industry, which to my anecdotal evidence more commonly women than the traditional path. These people are doing a great deal of the heavy lifting trying to even out the industry.
As a specific example of this type Alyssa is currently an instructor at @Devbootcamp, and has previously volunteered her time at Girl Develop It columbus. She is constantly thinking about the academics of programming and explaining it to anyone who wants to hear.
2) The Evangelist : Jen Meyers @antiheroine
This person is a specialist in getting into the spotlight and talking about the technology. Talking about technology and giving a public demonstration of its power, occasionally though not always, from a new perspective. It’s apparently (I have no first hand experience with it, so I use the word apparently to demonstrate that ) difficult enough being a woman in technology. To Actively attract the spotlight and stand up there is truly admirable. This gets more women in technology by fostering an atmosphere where women hear their voice more and therefore feel more comfortable within the industry.
As a specific example Jen Myers is also affiliated with @Devbootcamp and @GirlDevelopIt it and is a shining beacon of the joy of technology. A relentlessly positive shining example of techno-joy, with a side of humanity involved (A short time following on twitter will reveal a love of otters). This reminder of humanity further extends the message. Jen also mentors everyone who wants to get up and speak and I would imagine it is far easier for any woman wishing to be an evangelist to ask Jen for help as a mentor.
3) The Do cool stuff expert : Kelly Sommers @kellabyte
This type of person is so passionate about the technology that it inspires everyone else to harbor similar passion. Her twitter stream is full of cutting edge experimentation to push this message out to the world. The point is the technology, not the gender. The gender is something that is, but is not the focus.
As an individual example Kelly does some brain melting stuff on Apache Cassandra (http://cassandra.apache.org). Pushing and testing hundreds of nodes and millions of transactions on the cloud.
4) The Employment Specialist : Gayle Laakman McDowel @Gayle , Cassandra Faris @cassandrafaris
This person is driven by getting people hired and hired in the right position. They drive the conversion from coder to professional developer. This also drives more women in technology by providing a path for those that were not on the professional programmer since birth path. In addition, this starts a momentum building machine where women with the desire, see others who have technology careers as a viable option.
As a specific instance Gayle is a talented author of several books from “The Google Resume” to “Cracking the coding interview” even a book for Product Manager job landing. She is also a leading voice on Quora discussing any manner of technology topics including the voice, plight and need of women in technology.
A second, great example is Casssandra, as one of the good recruiters her job is a boots on the ground finding the right fit and the right person. She has taken considerable time and effort to get a real understanding of the technologies and the skills required for each of those.
Now that you have seen the 4 pillars for growth of women in technology, you may have other examples. That’s great it means that more people are taking their own path to help this process. Understanding the fact that they need no validation from me I would personally like to say that I am proud of each of these women for the work they do. I don’t imagine its an easy path for any of them, which makes it all the more impressive. The world would be a better place if there were more people like them, and it appears as though their mission is that there will be. Each of them is focused on generating more and more momentum. They are kick starting the engine and I sincerely hope that their mission is successful.
I would like to point out I did not ask permission to mention these ladies. I wanted my comments to be public and their recognition widespread. If this bothers them or others I will remove it.