Contra Costa Times looks at women bloggers

The Contra Costa Times (a newspaper in Northern California) looks at why there aren't many women bloggers on the A list.

They totally missed a major reason.

What's that? Attendance at the early Silicon Valley geek/blogger dinners. Mena Trott (co-founder of Six Apart) was there. But there weren't many women who attended those early dinners back in 2002/03 (which were open to the public and free to attend). It was those early dinners that caused a whole bunch of blog networks to be built.

I find I build mental brands of bloggers I meet face-to-face and probably do link to those bloggers more often than people I don't know at all.

I'm very fortunate cause Maryam has started blogging too. She has introduced many female bloggers to me (I think that's how I've met many of the bloggers quoted in this article) and reminds me of when someone in her circle of friends writes something that would be interesting to my readers.

Another problem, though, goes deeper than just face-to-face networks. It's that women aren't going into computer science and don't hang out wherever geeks congregate. The next time you go to a user group or a geek dinner or a computer conference or visit a computer science department at a major university, look around. You'll probably see mostly men. (The first industry conference I helped plan, back in the early 90s, had 425 male attendees and two female and the numbers haven't gotten much better since then).

Does this matter for our industry? Yes, it does.

How? Well, our industry is moving from a feature-oriented one to one where culture and aesthetics and ease of use wins. Why is Apple so successful? Cause it's products don't just have great features, they are fashionable and tie in well with cultural trends.

When I was in Paris I talked with Anina, the fashion model who blogs. She looked at our new cell phones and gave me about 20 suggestions on how to make them more appealing to people who care about fashion and culture. I videotaped her ideas and they stuck with me. Will those ideas get heard at Microsoft? It's difficult because our internal culture is so male dominated.

We're blowing a huge opportunity here by not listening to women and not hiring more of them to develop more of our products and services.