So, yesterday’s post made some waves. I wove through my day watching the stats, reading the comments, engaging on Twitter, shooting a few emails back and forth – and I was greatly encouraged by the overwhelming support of the WordPress community. I took my personal internalization of what is a very sensitive subject, opened it up for conversation, and the result of all that has been nothing short of positive.
Even the negative attention the post garnered on a forum only illustrates the health of the very inclusive WordPress community.
Truth in Numbers
From publication to date there have been over 1500 views on that single post. Within a few hours, over twenty comments were posted and the majority of the authors are men who were incredibly supportive. Several blog posts were written. And the conversation on Twitter went strong all day long. In all of this - not ONE comment, blog post or tweet was inflammatory, accusatory, dismissive or belittling. Not from the men. Not from the women.
A genuine, HEALTHY, conversation is happening: a real interest in understanding the issues at hand – on all sides. Civility has ruled, and not based on popularity of the content at hand. People were genuinely behaving like real human beings, deeply concerned with the health of the WordPress community.
The post is getting results. It’s brought some issues to light that really do need to be dealt with.
Because Humans Matter
I flew to Phoenix with a very dismissive attitude about this whole Women in WordPress issue. I flew home feeling very conflicted about it all. I blogged, I talked to close peers, and I published. And all I can say is WOW! Am I ever grateful for the community that has welcomed me with open arms, that listens, that responds appropriately, and that seeks to cultivate a culture of inclusivity, acceptance and empathy towards one another.
What I didn’t do, though, was flame and shame the men whose actions resulted in my reaction. Some have asked for me to publicly disclose. To do so would shift the conversation from, “WOW so this DOES happen.” To, “Well, I’m not as much of a jerk as so-and-so.” The post wasn’t about who said what, who did what, what happened when. It was about MY reaction to the sum of it all. If you can’t get past that, then I suggest you take some time to figure out if you want to just be a gossip or a leader in the community.
Let’s Move Forward
If you’ve experienced something at a WordCamp that you need to talk about – then say what you need to say. Reach out. Someone – everyone – will listen. WordPress raised the bar for the tech industry 10 years ago, now – let’s continue to raise the bar for how we conduct ourselves at WordPress events.
But there is a time and place to talk about how we, as a community, can set the standard we want for ourselves and raise the bar for everyone else. Do we need a code of conduct? Perhaps – but you and I know – it’s preaching to the choir. People who already don’t know who to self-manage at these events aren’t going to give a code of conduct a 2nd thought.
Be the change you want to see at WordCamps. – Sarah
I don’t know what the answer is, honestly, except to say that we are all ultimately responsible for how WE conduct ourselves at these events. Be the change you want to see. Lead the community to a better standard of conduct, a better environment for everyone. Men shouldn’t have to be afraid of women – and it’s getting to that point, ladies. But women also shouldn’t have to spend their time at a WordCamp fending off advances – and … that’s happening, gentlemen. Let’s just work hard to not create THIS kind of an environment:
I can say this: while my perspective has shifted a bit on this topic – my admiration for the whole of this community has grown tremendously over the last 72 hours. The (majority of the) Men AND Women of WordPress are intelligent, compassionate, supportive, encouraging, welcoming, trustworthy, kind, honest, and humble. There are a few men and women who lack personal integrity and have some growing up to do. But, if anything, this whole experience has only reconfirmed what I saw at WordCamp Austin in 2013: this is a REAL community. It transcends the typical “status quo” of other communities I’ve been involved in through the years and I believe, as a collective unit, we ALL want to raise the standards for everyone in tech – WordPress and beyond.
Shameless WordPress Plug
If you are a woman in tech, and you have tired of the sexism that runs counterproductive to your career, by all means - join WordPress. The community is strong, healthy and supportive. You will encounter some humans who may do or say something that could leave you feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable or perhaps even upset – but I can personally assure you – this is NOT the norm. For every unfortunate incident you experience, you will have tenfold to make up for it. And honestly, that’s just a part of life.