When talking with people about making more RailsBridge workshops happen, I’m often asked by men: shouldn’t a woman be in charge? Shouldn’t a woman be the event leader? Isn’t it weird?
My emphatic response: PLEASE ORGANIZE A WORKSHOP.
Organizing a workshop doesn’t take technical skill. The emailing, arranging, and logistics-handling required of a RailsBridge organizer is mostly behind-the-scenes and without much glory. And I hate the idea of women doing all the logistical heavy-lifting while men show up and teach Rails. (Of course, I love that anyone shows up to teach Rails. Of course.)
If RailsBridge were a woman-identified-only event, this would be a different story. But the room is already quite diverse with all the teachers; having men as organizers will certainly not reduce women’s position at the workshop. Male organizers also helps us challenge bullshit gender stereotypes, like the idea that women are inherently better nurturers. We need to all challenge this idea not just with discussions and blog posts, but with the roles we take in these events and organizations.
So gentlemen, dudes, guys, and men: please organize a workshop. Please assist a woman who’s already organizing one. Take those logistical things off her plate (if she wants to share them) so that she can be a technical presence at a workshop. (Perhaps you can recruit a woman to present the technical portion of the opening presentation while you cover the other parts.)
Often the best teachers and TAs are those who have been learning this stuff recently, who can really empathize with the students. But if that technical woman is busy dividing up classes and ordering lunch, she’s not going to be able to teach and be a technical role model to the students in the room.
If you’re worried about how to be a good ally (and even if you’re not), I highly, highly, highly recommend Melissa McEwan’s piece on allyship. But first, if you feel weird about the word privilege, I recommend first reading John Scalzi’s Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is, which is a totally brilliant video game-based introduction to the concept of privilege.
Email email@example.com with your interest in helping. It’s good, satisfying work, and we need your help.
A Post-Publishing Thought / Update:
I should say explicitly that there should be strong technical female leadership in the room; it would not be good to have 100% male-identified volunteers. And if a woman wants to organize a workshop, that is totally and completely awesome. Organizing being non-technical work doesn’t diminish its importance, at all. At all. At all. (That was one at all for every workshop I’ve organized.)