If you haven't already, listen to "This Developer's Life." When it came out last year it quickly jumped to the top of my favorite podcasts list along with "Herding Code" and "Science Friday." Rob Conery started it, and now he and Scott Hanselman sit and weave stories shared by other developers in a riveting way accompanied by music and brief glimpses into their own lives. The real value of the series is the production and the way it captures your imagination and emotion as you journey into the lives of other developers.
Rob and I are Skype pals, and a little while after the show started he came to me with a proposition. He had been having trouble finding ladies to be on the show. Being that I am a woman (I don't know if you knew that, I try not to advertise it), he thought I would have better luck finding some who would share their stories. He and Scott both feel powerfully that bringing out female rolemodels in this industry is one of the first steps toward closing the gender gap in software development.
I jumped at the chance to work with these awesome guys and be part of something that I admire. Rob and Scott bought me a whole setup (seen above) to interview folks with and mailed it to New York. It took me forever to figure out how to set it up, but as you can tell we now have a great podcasting room at New Work City (where I work), someone even soundproofed the walls.
I know a lot of kickass women programmers here in New York, so I sent out some emails right away. I sent out 13 emails. I emailed women I have great respect for, most of them have been in this field much longer than I (or are way more qualified), and work in positions that come with much respect. They have built amazing things, and work with incredible people. These, every one of them, are stories that need to be heard. If you lined them up next to the men that have been on "This Developer's Life" thus far they would be exactly on par.
From all but one of the emails I got the exact same reply: "I'm sorry, I just don't feel like I'm at the point in my career that I'm ready to talk about it publicly yet."
The one person that I got a "yes" from is Danielle Banks, she is a great student that is teaching herself how to be a developer. She's in the process of learning, and she was brave enough to come forward and share her experience with others. She was also the only one on the list that didn't have an established career in development (but will someday, believe me. You can hear her story here.)
I don't really understand what is happening here. Possibly, it's something that someone can explain. This is an extremely popular podcast and people all over the world are listening to it. Girls all over the world are listening to it. They are learning that there truely are no women in software, the statistics are right, they will have to break this ground alone if it is something they want to pursue.
It may be that these particular ladies don't like me that much, or they don't want to be around me for more than an hour, or there is some other reason they don't want to do this. It can be really scary sharing a story that you know people are judging you on, especially in this field where we're all competing to inject the most "Well actually...."s. However, I know there is a woman (are women) in the tri-state NYC metro area that want to sit and talk to me about this great industry and their experiences. I will buy you dinner, I will make you coffee, and I promise I will make you laugh at least once.
If this is you, or you know this woman please email me (contact link above). I would really appreciate you joining me in bringing some XX chromosomes to the airwaves.
Also, suggestions on how to go abou this in a better way would be welcomed. It's possible I'm using the wrong approach by cold emailing, and I would like to be better at this.