The Importance of Speaking Up

— UPDATE —

The blog post mentioned below is now also featured in a Seattle Times article about women who code.

— UPDATE —

I hesitated, a few weeks ago, to participate in a radio conversation with with Stuart Reges and a host. Reges is the author of the now notorious post titled ‘Why Women Don’t Code‘.  Since then, I’ve found myself asking what happens if I leave the podium, who’s left to speak out?

I declined, I admit, because I was afraid — afraid that I would say the wrong thing in a situation where I’d have to think on my feet, perhaps overclaim or make a statement that the literature (which is not directly in my field) does not support. I silenced myself rather than take a chance to make a difference because I lacked the self confidence to participate. But finding my voice
means speaking out even when it makes me uncomfortable.

That’s why I spent the last week working on a medium post titled “Why Don’t Women Want to Code? Ask Them!” In it, I argue using a series of anecdotes that one of the ways in which we fail women is by assuming that we know what is influencing their decisions. As my friend Sandy Kaplan said, after providing feedback on my medium post, “Assumptions shroud in mystery that which must be exposed to light to heal.”

This post was not easy to write — it required hours of work, and was improved by the generous feedback of many people. I note this because the labor of telling this story needs to be acknowledged. Many thanks go to my sister in law, spouse, friends, and fellow faculty.

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