Wednesday 7 July 2004

where are the women of CSS?

Where are the women of CSS?

As a recent thread on Eric Meyer’s site Wanted: CSS Luminary demonstrates, there are only two women even publically recognized as potentials for a CSS book project: myself and Holly Bergevin. And before you get too excited, Anne van Kesteren is a man.

Now, the list of names at Eric’s place is impressive – it’s filled with loads of people I really respect, and while many have never written a book, certainly most everyone’s contributions have been impressive. If you examine the list, though, you see a range: some folks are designers, others are more technical. I myself am not a designer per se, my skill is in teaching – whether it’s in a classroom or via an article or book. Nevertheless, a luminary is a luminary is a luminary, right?

So why are there only two women even listed there, much less listed far fewer times than the guys? Is it that women aren’t typically thought of as “luminaries?” I’d hate to think that, because I know at least 70% of the folks on that list and they are all enlightened men who don’t exhibit discomfort regarding women in computing. Is it that women aren’t attracted to CSS for some reason? Or maybe they are quieter about it, less competitive, less interested?

I don’t understand why women in CSS are so overlooked, and with the two of us that have been mentioned – at least in this case – it’s either far less often than the guys or, in Holly’s case, always as a duo with Big John, and not on the merit of her own individuality. I want to understand this. Maybe you can help me.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 10:57 | Comments (70)

Comments (70)

  1. I’m not sure I can say anything that Shelley and Eris (and other women have said). But there does seem to be a boy’s network at work here. For whatever reason, we listen to men first and most.

    Sad but true: a woman really has to kick down the door and wave a big flag — to out man the men — to get noticed, even, in many cases, where women are the supervisors, leaders and decision makers. That’s true in technology, journalism, and business.

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  3. i’ve got my own theory, but it may be completely wrong…is it because the guys are all so proud of their css work that they can’t stop going on about it in their blogs, forum posts, etc…they shout the loudest, and are more visible? i don’t doubt that there are an equal number of female css gurus out there, just that they get on with the job and don’t spend every day blogging it…

    or maybe i’m just bitter because i can’t be arsed to run my own blog 😉

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  5. D’oh, I posted that comment to the wrong entry. Sorry folks … *going to post it in the right place now*

  6. Very interesting thread. Wish I’d had time to see it a couple days ago. :) (Hey Gary, I’m not bent out of shape but I did, albeit late, fulfill my commitments to you. ;))

    I write about and love CSS… However, writing books, done only once, I did NOT love. I do a lot with Macromedia… I write for MX Developer’s Journal (on CSS)… I write regularly for Community MX (yes, we have more male writers than female)… and frankly, I would LOVE to do more testing, exploring, bending-the-boundaries type of CSS. But also, very frankly, I have more clients than I can handle, home school my kids and attempt to have some kind of family life — though I am an admitted work-a-holic and am at my computer about 12 hours a day.

    As to the original questions of why? Heck, who knows. I would say there’s no “real reason” and that it’s a mixture of reasons. I would love to think that discrimination isn’t one of them. I haven’t felt it.

    There is one strange thing about it all (for me)… I really identify with the woman that said she uses her initials so that gender identity is less apparent. I didn’t obscure my name, but I DID make sure that I had no pictures of myself anywhere on the web for the first couple years I worked within it. Silly, I know. But for me, as a woman, it was important to “not look like anything”… or to at least not have that known and a factor in any jobs I might get. It was important to me to be respected for my mind.

    I’m betting the guys don’t have to think that way. 😛

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  8. Anne van Kesteren is a man!? And I’ve met the… bloke!

  9. Here is a web site done by a woman with great examples for what CSS can do for us at
    Ulrike Haessler also wrote a book “Cascading Stylesheets, Stil mit . Unfortunately, book and web site are written in German only, but still worth being checked out. She describes CSS (and more) in a way so that even non-techies and possibly non-German-speaking folks can learn to do sophisticated stylesheets.
    Don’t forget to have a look at the other stuff she offers on her web site

  10. Maybe one of the reason we see less women in print is, unlike most men they put family above fame.

    I don’t take exception to that either.. in fact my story is virtually the same as Stephanie’s. I’ve been doing this for nearly 7 years now and for the past four years I’ve been contributing regularly to a CSS Community in the form of tips, techniques, layouts, etc.

    I did join CSS-D but had to make a choice which one I had the time to contribute to. And when it comes to blogs, I only get time to read occasionally (hence this late reply ;))

    It seems to me that ‘bloggers’ have made the biggest impact in the CSS arena which isn’t surprising as Blogs and CSS have ‘evolved’ at the same time.

    And as for my own site, it’s not a proper blog simply because I really am too busy to write more. Busy as in working with (earning money from) CSS and Standards. Debugging, optimising, testing. I would like to write a book someday, but fear it will be too late because yes “Family comes First” does apply.

    I believe there are a lot more people like me out there, but “Forum Land” as I once heard it called 😉 and Blogs seem to revolve in different sphere’s at the minute. Note: That not only are most of the recognizable names male, they all communicate via blogs. Where they get that time I can only imagine, but I think that’s where a women especially one with a family may fall down a bit. (I know this doesn’t apply sweepingly this is just an observation)

    I have also not felt any discrimination, and have been to a conference or two, which is filled with predominately males.

    ** seeing as how we’re on the subject of getting in your face **
    For the record my CSS knowledge can match the best of them too.

  11. Women are retarded beings, who think with the womb, their sole purpose is to get pregnant

  12. Great discussion here, one that will not be drowned by ignorance (as in the previous entry). I asked myself this question not too long ago, as well. Yet somehow I think I know the answer, and it is the same one that I know of from meeting other women online, on IRC, in MMORPGs, on web forums. There are numerous talented and knowledgeable female web designers, and ones that code CSS, too. We are just not noticed until we flash our boobs.

  13. I think women tend to be more cautious about jumping into new technical fields because the pressure is higher in the learning stage–if you don’t really know what you’re doing, you don’t want to stand out as the example of “see, women can’t do (insert tech field here)–look at her.” It’s hard to study/practice when so many people are casually expecting you to fail. Everyone is mediocre when they’re starting out. But if you’re mediocre and female, you’re likely to get more feedback that this just isn’t your thing, is it?

    Also if you’re female, guys are more likely to just fix your mistakes for you instead of explaining how to fix them yourself. This is our own fault for allowing it to happen–it may seem the easy route at first, but in the long term you learn nothing. I get very annoyed when I see certain women making themselves helpless this way. It not only affects them, but it affects men’s attitudes to me too by extending the stereotype from “SOME women can’t do tech” to “ALL women can’t do tech.”

    Finally, what everyone seems to forget is that if there are significant exceptions to a rule, applying a rule is pointless in the real world. So even if you are totally convinced that MOST (let’s say 80%) of women are not very good with tech, that still leaves 20% that are. Which means that if you are hiring for a tech position and a qualified woman is on the list, believing that “MOST aren’t qualified” should have no bearing on the fact that one of the individuals from that remaining 20% is standing right in front of you. ALL men can’t code CSS either, you know.

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  15. I don’t imagine women in this not because I’m a misogynist or think that women can’t such work. I think it’s only a habit to think that only man can do this kind of work.

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