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Ada Lovelace Day 2012

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, “a day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.” I participated before in 2009 and 2010, but for some reason I forgot to blog last year…

The women I payed my respect to in the last years are well-established today. Rebecca Murphey is one of the most notable JavaScripters in the world. Lea Verou is a well-known speaker, working for the W3C. Silvia Pfeiffer is now co-editor of the HTML5 specification, the most important technical standard for frontend devs like me. Shelley Powers, a long-term JavaScript writer, wrote a book on Node.js. fantasai is rocking the W3C CSS WG, pushing out specifications to Candidate Recommendation. Divya Manian was hired by Opera and recently Adobe, doing developer evangelism and webstandards documentation. Just to name a few. No doubt that these women significantly contribute to web development and the community in general. I personally benefit from their work every day. And I’m grateful to work with people like Tiffany Conroy, like recently at the JavaScript for Absolute Beginners workshop. Every day I discover more and more women in the field, marvelling at their blog articles and Github projects.

So who should I pick this year? In 2010 I picked eleven individuals, today I would need to name fifty at minimum. I could name Garann Means, a JavaScript developer at Etsy, whose blog posts I love to read. And Irene Ros, active in the Backbone.js community, working for Bocoup. And Mary Rose Cook, Indie game programmer (Pistol Slut, Empty Black) and author of Andro.js and Machine.js. And Elise Huard who is bringing more functional programming and other CS wisdom into the JavaScript and Ruby world. And Tiffany B. Brown, part of the Opera developer relations team. And Irina Dumitrascu, who gave a powerful and motivating talk on Test-Driven Development at the apps.berlin.js meetup I’m co-organizing. And Laura Doktorova, who wrote the JavaScript templating engine doT. And so on.

Most of these women are well-accepted in the specific tech field they are involved in. They’re working for browser vendors or huge enterprises, speaking at top-notch conferences, writing books published by O’Reilly and such. That is, these few are already highly visible. Everyone in web dev who doesn’t close their eyes actively needs to recognize them. It’s clear that there are excellent female developers and computer scientists. But “Rebecca Murphey and Lea Verou can’t be everywhere at once”, as Garann Means once put it. It’s great to name inspiring role models who made it. It’s probably harder to actually make web development and programming accessible for everyone, on all levels. You don’t have to be exceptionally talented, self-confident or extroverted to deserve respect, visibility and of course a well-paid job in the industry. Nobody’s a natural in programming, but everyone should have the opportunity to enter the field and get the necessary support to advance. In addition to naming a few stars (well, they are stars for me) I’d like to draw attention to the thousands of female developers who aren’t as visible yet. I’d like to point to initiatives who help people to get into technology, web development and programming:

  • Rails Girls – World-wide movement that teaches Ruby on Rails and web development basics.
  • Black Girls Code – Programming classes for girls of color, mostly US, but also South Africa.
  • Skillcrush – Startup that sends a newsletter that explains basic web dev terms, tutorials soon to come.
  • Geek Girl Meetup – Unconference for geek women, world-wide.

Berlin-based:

Geek Feminism: