Geek Chicks: Second thoughts
I've been reading some of these "Where are the Geek Girls?" threads on slashdot recently and wanted to make some comment of "We're over here" but then haven't. Part of the reason why not is because I have this nagging doubt of "Do I really qualify as a geekgirl?" and I suspect that others out there may feel likewise.
I work in IT (UNIX sysadmin at the moment), enthuse about my latest techno acquisitions and generally attract the title "geek" from people I work with; but I don't write open source code, or spend hours on my PC in the evenings, and I do have a vast range of other hobbies. So I'm not _really_ _truly_ a geek, am I?
I largely agree with Skud's piece about this. I think the female ability to multi-task, by defintion, reduces the likelihood of women obsessing with a single activity. Likewise our more gregarious social nature means we are less likely to want to spend too much time alone coding. Some time, yes, but not enough to gain a noticeable reputation within the various coding communities.
I'd also agree strongly that what the open source projects lack is the kind of things that women are good at. I've been annoyed for the last ten years, for example, that the free unixes are so unfriendly to set up and use. There's no need for that. It isn't difficult to make something more approachable for people, to explain in clear and simple terms how to make them work and to give them intuitive and clear interfaces; but there seemed to be a strong reluctance, or perhaps inability, to do any of that. Commercialisation of the products has helped here in recent years and things are improving, but there's still a way to go.
I don't feel that I can criticise these projects for their shortfallings, though, if I'm not prepared to help with them myself and I'm not in a position to offer huge swathes of time to help. So (today aside) I keep quiet, get on with my many jobs and wonder what it would be like if I were a _real_ geek.