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.

106 thoughts on “Contra Costa Times looks at women bloggers

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  3. First off, we are talking specifically the tech blogging community as raincoaster pointed out. In the science blogging community, it is much more equal. So, I have a few points to contribute to this conversation…

    Point 1: Most women I know really enjoy blogging and will blog about what makes them tick. Thus, to get more female tech bloggers, you have to get more female tech geeks.

    Point 2: Men do play a huge role in this. In my experience as a university student, my math and physics peers treated me as an equal. Many university math departments have 50/50 male/female split now and I attribute it to the departmental attitudes. However, the men in my computer engineering classes were condescending and rude. They deter less confident, yet capable, women. If men were respectful of women entering the industry and not assume they are more capable it would create a more inviting environment.

    Point 3: My own husband has commented that as long as men and women are doing what they enjoy, then it doesn’t matter if it’s cooking or coding. This seems to be a common feeling among men in the technology industry, but the point they miss is that having all-male dominated environments creates unwelcoming places for women who would like to join. So, even if women are interested in the subjects, they’re less likely to pursue them as a career.

    Furthermore, for companies in the industry it is crucial to their business that they have women working for them. This is the best way to make products that appeal to all audiences. You can’t just spend an hour with a female focus group and think you understand the entire demographic. Women need to be an integral part of the design and implementation processes.

    I’m really glad that you bring up this topic, Robert. It is really important and we still have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the sciences. By changing attitudes in the industry we can raise the standard of technology-related blogging through inclusion of all talented individuals.

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