Normalizing Decency in the Development Community.

Adria Richards posted some very disheartening experiences she had at the recent PyCon, dealing with some awkwardly sexual bro-grammers in the audience.    I think everyone with an interest in developer communities or management should read it as it’s a great expression of what I think could be a too common experience.

I don’t want to rehash the whole issue here but there are a few things that specifically jump out at me as I read her experience that I think are worth noting.

I was struck by how much energy she felt she had to put into the descriptions of the incidents and her perception to feel she was justified in feeling outraged and how utterly draining that has to be to women in the development community.  This seems like one of those things that people should just get intuitively and wouldn’t require more than a tweet to illicit the appropriate WTF reaction I think it should.  This poor women has to essentially open a veign and bleed out all over her blog just to get to the point of feeling justified and from the reaction around the twitterverse, even then some people still have their doubts.

That people can act so inappropriately in large groups without some trigger for regulating it always a chilling thing to me.  In this instance a trigger did work in terms of the wonderful PyCon staff but the threshold for activation was just too high to call ourselves and inclusive community.  Active triggers are almost always a last resort option and form a more inclusive community we’re going to have to aspire to more passive triggers to become a self regulating community.

Why is this important to me?

As a profession, our job is essentially to make conceptual models real for people to use.   We have too much of a mono-culture in programming and that hurts our ability to create better conceptual models.  Diversity of background, thinking and personalities is an important tool for improving our set of conceptual models to solve problems in a diverse world. Anything we do to increase diversity and break the monoculture improves the profession.   Do more of that and don’t want for someone else to ask you to.