It’s not that the PyLadies are intimidated by the men who dominate computer programmer events and workshops. It’s just that they got tired of feeling like outsiders.
Katharine Jarmul, 29, remembers the day they first identified the problem. She and three other women found themselves chatting in a circle at a meet-up in March last year. There were 30 or 40 people there, all discussing Django, a website framework built on the Python programming language. But, looking around the room, Jarmul realized that their little circle contained the only female programmers there. The few other women in attendance were recruiters or product managers, not the people who actually write code.
“We felt like anomalies,” Jarmul recalls.
The women felt the difference most keenly during breaks, when they couldn’t join in the inside jokes and casual conversations into which their male colleagues seemed to fall so easily. In a profession so dependent on teamwork and learning new technology, being part of the community is not just a matter of feeling comfortable. It’s essential to being competitive.
“I said very frankly, ‘Well, maybe we should stop complaining about it and do something,’ ” Jarmul remembers.