CodeStock 2010: The Women in Technology Debate

Last month Gary and I were excited to get the opportunity to travel to CodeStock in Knoxville, TN. We experienced some serious Southern hospitality en route and even made time for some trekking in the Smoky Mountains. I wish I could spend some time telling you about the fantastic Jamaican brunch I had one afternoon, but this post instead is about a topic that cropped up a couple of times at the event – the role of women in the technology field.

The notion of women in tech was subtly demonstrated throughout the conference thanks to the official CodeStock t-shirt. Inspired by Rosie the Riveter, it prompted Rachel Appel to make reference in her keynote to her aunt, who was a real-life Rosie. Rachel’s aunt was an example of the strong, self-motivated women who paved the way for their daughter’s and granddaughter’s to excel in all fields – including science and technology.

I know that this is a contentious topic, and many people have the opinion that if you’re good at your job it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. However, not everyone is as advanced in their way of thinking as those people are. I urge you all to listen to Jennifer Marsman and Rachel Appel’s tales from the field. And for those of you who can stomach a bit of heated discussion, check out this blog post from Nicole Sullivan. If you pay particular attention to the comments you’ll see some eye-opening responses from female and male developers alike.

Women in Technology with Jennifer Marsman and Rachel Appel  

Jennifer is one of the Heartland’s busiest Microsoft Developer Evangelists. After working as a developer in Redmond, WA she moved back home to Michigan and is now committed to her local community. Everyone I speak to holds both her and her technical skills in very high regard. I have long admired Rachel Appel as a vibrant, independent and vastly intelligent community spokesperson. We’ve known each other for over 4 years and I was grateful to finally get a chance to meet her at CodeStock.

You can find out more about Jennifer and Rachel on their blogs:

Take a look at the video we recorded and remember to leave your comments on the Women in Technology debate. We talked about:

  • What it means to be a woman in technology in 2010
  • Experiences in the field
  • What skills women bring to the technology sector
  • Why the idea of women in technology causes such volatile debates


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