where are the women, part 2789369132

Me, leaping in to dispel the impression that Automattic is a woman-free zone? Wonders will never cease.

Although, if you will keep your sole female employee hidden on your corporate site while making public announcements about the appointment of pretty much all the others, you have to expect a little flack.

I can completely see why wordpress.com users unaware of the community issues with wordpress would be surprised by the lack of female faces. To them, Automattic’s just another 2.0 startup. They’re unaware of a context where women were getting involved, yes, but it was proving next to impossible to keep them involved. I wrote on some of the reasons for this last year, and I have nothing much to add to that; except that it’s become clearer in the intervening months that men are as alienated by the way the project’s run as women are. It’s just that women get switched off faster because they already know what not being listened to looks like, and it isn’t as much of a shock to them. The women who commented on that thread are testing Habari now. This is not a coincidence.

I don’t think Automattic should run out and hire a couple of token women because it would make them look better. They should think about whether it might be time to start hiring a few more people from outside the community, even if by doing so they ran the risk of them not understanding how things work around here. Because if they didn’t understand how things have always worked, then things might have to start working differently. And that might be good.

(In reality? If you don’t understand the way things work, you don’t last very long. Still, nice to dream.)

7 Comments »

  1. adam said

    working in a field that’s 90%/10% old-white-men/women-minorities-everyone-else, i’ll say that while hiring women doesn’t fix the problem, it does make the problem tangible. and yes, hiring people based on something other than how they blog would surely be a good thing.

  2. planetim said

    I like the new look, much more readable. Same for your rants, always entertaining.

  3. _ck_ said

    This is weird, I independently had the same though a month or two ago and posted it here ( http://wordpress.com/blog/2007/08/05/the-whole-team/ ) but the comment seems to be missing now😦

  4. News blog comments are quite heavily censored. I would guess that the number of people pointing out the oestrogen shortage was getting embarrassing.

    I really hope a woman gets one of the two posts they’re advertising at the moment (both would be too much to hope for), but I’m not terribly optimistic. These things are self-perpetuating; people want to work in organisations where they feel they’ll fit in, and if you’ve established a ratio of fifteen men to every woman you’re going to have trouble getting women to apply.

  5. Stevie said

    lol, I noticed the lack of women in Automattic, what? only one woman? actually I was surprised to see one in the staff photo, I think Automattic is the pseudo term for “only testosterone here” because yes every business needs a woman or two, but at Automattic the majority are men.

    Honestly, I don’t comment on news blog comments, if it is heavily censored, it’s no use trying to comment, I have had this experience over at photomatt, it seems any comments that are challenging or questioning he deletes them, no wonder I refuse to load the dashboard news anymore.

  6. Root said

    Well they need at least a couple of females so Matt can make patronising remarks about staff not attending the AutocratticTM junkets in Mexico because they are *having babies*. It has always struck me as exceptionally wierd that IT is such a male dominated industry. If you look at all the skills needed / not needed men have absolutely no advantages at all.

  7. It has always struck me as exceptionally wierd that IT is such a male dominated industry.

    I blame the schools. When I was ten I had a ZX Spectrum and a rudimentary grasp of Basic, when I was eighteen I was a Luddite who refused to activate her college email account. What happened in between was a bunch of teenage boys hogging the mouse, an IT teacher with shocking BO and no suggestion at any time that there were more interesting things to be done with computers than typing things up in Word. </bitterness>

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