Amy Stephen

Hacker Grandma


Loud Bossy Feminists

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself unable to ignore this nagging feeling that I’ve been wrong about the extent of the problem women face in our industry. I’ve also had to stop and accept the fact that my privilege as a white CIS female, a wife, a mother, has been an issue, a blindness I have willingly built over the years. So, this is a confession of sorts and an explanation of where I now stand on a few issues.

First, we all want to feel good about our accomplishments. I’ve worked very hard over the past 30 years, I’ve had to as a woman in a man’s field. In order to be successful, it was not unusual that I put in 100 hour weeks and learn to “lean in”, as it were, to compete with men in my field. Over the years, I came to accept this bias as a norm and it should not be that way.

If you are a mother and in the technology industry, then you know how hard it is to take care of children and your job. Most married couples today rely on two incomes and it is often considered a requirement that both work. Most relationships have not really balanced the workload at home so women can be under a great deal of stress due to all of this responsibility. It is hard to see this in young mothers today and I feel for you.

Women tend to just do it. We blame ourselves if we can’t keep up. We don’t ask for help when we need it. We don’t always negotiate for our own fairness. Encourage you to listen to Jean Hsu on Motherboard, her husband and her work hard to balance the workload. It’s rare.

I can see, now, that I suffered badly from the “Fuck you, I got mine.” attitude, so I’m leaving it here today. It should be easier for women and other underrepresented populations in our field. There should be more of us in leadership positions in our open source projects. It should not be unusual to see a woman as a developer on a big community based open source projects. And trust me when I tell you, being patient and nice doesn’t work.

On “Code of Conducts” for projects and conferences… Personally, I have not felt uncomfortable. I have been outspoken and negative about these policies. But, it dawns on me, it has not been written for those of us who are fine, it has been written for those who are not fine with the conditions. And, I’m ashamed of myself for not immediately supporting anything we can do to improve conditions for those people. Why was that so hard for me? Was I defending the right to harm others? Shameful. So, I leave that here, too. There should be no problem at all for clear statements that good conduct is expected, period.

On the negative feminist voice, those of you who are constantly complaining, raising one thing after the other, I thank you for waking me up. I’ve grown tolerant of those who are intolerant, I’ve been supportive of them, in fact, and I’ve done so at the expense of those who are feeling pushed out. So, I’m done with that. I’m sorry for my behavior and attitude and selfishness.

Nearly everyday it seems something happens where the unchecked privilege of people like me pushes back on reasonable requests for support. Someone yesterday said that she is tired of being the target. Imagine, if we all spoke up when we saw something wrong, if we helped people, instead of forcing them to defend their request for our support, if we just realized we are better together. No one would have to take any bullets, anymore.

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