Friday, November 12, 2010

Hello Planet GNOME!

Yay! I was selected! I'm in!

I felt, and still am, really happy about being selected as a participant in the GNOME Outreach Program for Women. I think is a wonderful opportunity, not only for the participants to learn a lot and get to know a vast community (that otherwise we may never would have explored, out of not noticing we could), but also an opportunity to create tiny "ripples of expanding information" and awareness amongst our contacts and personal circles. "Hey, if she could, I could too!" or "Contributing to an opensource project would also look great on my resume".

I think this video about Google summer of code sums up very well at 8mins 52 sec how intimidating the first steps into an opensource project can be. I felt that way for sure!

That's another reason this program is so great, by offering mentorship to participants in this way everything is really less scary.

(Those are screencaptures of the video I linked above, by the way).
It is even more difficult (to not be scared) if you are a woman. The topic of women in computing is a can of worms, but inavoidable: this is an outreach program for women after all. Why do we need extra encouragement? Ah, how I would like to be able to explain the complexities of being a woman in this world.

If you are a male, has anyone ever told you "Oh, so you are interested in doing X even when you are a BOY? Cool, I'm sure you can do it as well as any woman!" Implying X is made/done by and for women by default. Would you feel confident after that?

We say that ourselves: "Hi, I can do this as well as any man!". Yep, it's true, but why do we need to say it?  Because it was drilled into our heads, culturally, all our lives, that we are "the others", that if we do X (code, for example) that's uncommon and surprising. Lots of young school-age girls start to drift away from math, science and technology because of this perceived "that's for boys" thing. And they miss the opportunity of having better income as adults, they settle, instead, for boring and worse-paid "female" jobs.

Yep, I told you it was a can of worms ;)

I hope no one gets offended by this, it's not meant to. :)


So! I will be working on Cheese Project with Daniel Siegel as a mentor, he has been very nice and helpful. I really like the application and I'll try my best to add new cool features, it's a lot of fun. I'd also like to thank everybody else for being so friendly, welcoming and encouraging. I'm really grateful to everyone involved!

I'd also like to say "Congratulations!" to the other seven participants, and "Stay around, don't go away, apply again next time!" to all other applicants.

So, what else can I tell you about myself? I live in Buenos Aires, I have a five month old son (that's an extra challenge: to find time and energy to code while taking care of an infant, but also a possibility to all technical mothers out there, as Marina Zhurakhinskaya said to me a couple of days ago, to participate in opensource projects if they are at home with their kids).

I started to like computers in the BBS era, I was a sysop of my own BBS back then 15 years ago, receiving calls in my 14400 modem. I'm working towards my bachelor's degree in computer science. I worked the last five years as a Visual C++ software developer in different companies.

And that's all for now, this was my introduction to people at where these posts will be aggregated. I will be reporting my experiences and progress weekly, so stay tuned! :)
See you around!


Anonymous said...

Congrats on being selected, and welcome! Looking forward to following your work. :)

Dread Knight said...

Cheers! =)

Ethan Anderson said...

Yes, people tell me I'll make a good nurse. It's interesting that they go on to say that I'll be in high demand *because I'm male* and most people in the field aren't -- and I think that females in software should be in high demand for the same reason.

Females and males are going to be different in priorities, and I think our software needs more female priorities, really. Stability. Harmony. Things like that, where if you have some guy on the warpath against something or other, they're going to be overlooked. Basically I think the market failure of Free Desktops up to this point is partially a result of its largely male-made nature, and I'm hopeful that the fundamental change in priorities we're starting to adopt will make our communities much more attractive and welcoming to females, and that we'll all be better off for it.

L. said...

Male nurses, that's interesting for analogies: I imagine a man wondering about going into nursing: "Will I fit in? Will the nurses (who are mostly women) trust me the same as if I was a woman? Will they think I'm as capable? As competent? Will they believe in stereotypes, like "women are more nurturing"? Will they trust me to take care of kids and babies?"

And "What will everybody think of me when I say I'm a nurse? Will they think "yeah, but not a REAL nurse right? after all, you are male! Will I be hired, or will I find that most places prefer female nurses? Will I be hired because I;m male? Will everyone think I was hired only because I'm male?" etc etc ad infinitum.

Speaking from my experience, I have to fight all this self-doubt constantly. I'ts not easy and one needs to grow a thick skin also.

Rolandixor said...

Welcome :D!

Just my personal opinion (please don't take me wrong)... but the whole "I can do it too thing" has gotten a little old O.o...

Can't we just have a woman join a team without everyone striking up the band?! Men and women are equal, no need for a speech every time a woman does something, or a man does something, that isn't expected of either. I hope I'm not opening a can of worms myself, cause most likely I'll be taken the wrong way ._. ... but that's just how I see it.

L. said...

Rolandixor, I think I understand what you're trying to say, and I agree it would be great if the existence of female programmers would be taken for granted, as a natural "that's the way things are" fact that no one gave a second thought about. It is certainly something I wish for. That it were just as normal as knowing a female physician, or lawyer, or haidresser. But in my case, I still wonder "will they think I'm capable?" when faced with a 15 person team where I'm the only woman. But I cannot go asking them, don't you think? ;)

Now take a look here:
notice some tiny itty bitty slight difference between the number of males and the number of females? ;)

L. said...

I find it a little intimidating, but I'm talking only for myself, don't take this as if I'm speaking for my entire gender.

Carlos said...

A 4,500 dollars stipend!??! for people in the south hemisphere?!?? No, wait that's not quite right, FOR WOMEN IN THE SOUTH HEMISPHERE!!

Do you people have any idea of how much I need an opportunity like this? I can't join Google summer of code because I have a student visa J1 and I can't work off campus.

Should I known sooner I would have applied by lying about my gender.

By the way, congratulations on being a woman.

L. said...

Thank you Carlos, now you know how it feels ;)

Aussie Danny said...

Hi Laura, congrats!
Re the gender-biased socially engineered options for women... yes, women can have babies! and yes, they score slightly better at multitasking... ;)
To be honest... in an industry often challenged by skills shortage (everywhere), gender considerations are a luxury we can't affort.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen said...

@Rolandixor -- I worked the first 17 years of my programming career without working with another female software engineer. In 35 years, I have worked with a total of 17 female software engineer coworkers, most of whom are in my current workgroup.

AsdoeL said...

juguemos un doom2 por los viejos tiempos (?) :p
phredi / pred
saludos de luz !

L. said...

wwo0o0o0 pred! duelo de escopeta en el wad de plataforma circular rodeado de precipicio, ese eras vos no? y tenias un hermano que jugaba tambien con nosotros?

*musica de level 7* como me divertia jugando deathmatches dioos :D