For the last year, I’ve been taking my Asking About Gender talk to usergroups and conferences all over the UK. The reception I’ve had has been fantastic no matter who the audience. The next step for me is to write some workshops that I can take to conferences and interested companies. Most people I talk to are happy that I can give them practical advice because they know they should do something, but don’t have the time or resource to find out what.
This blog post is not about my talk however. It’s about me, and my gender journey, and how self-acceptance might not always be the best thing.
This year I went to my second Pycon UK and my first as a speaker. I’m not a Python developer anymore but I love the community so when I started pitching my Asking About Gender talk to non-UX conferences, they were top of my list. I also went to my first DjangoGirls event as a coach. This is how my weekend went.
Trigger Warning: Contains references to depression, anxiety and self-harm
Today is Self Injury Awareness Day. I’ve spent the last week writing up a blog post about it; going into my history and my thoughts. This is not that blog post.
Like many other people of my age, I did IT for GCSE at school because 'the future is computers'. This was in the year 1999/2000 and the entire course was just Microsoft Office and the tiniest amount of HTML. All I remember is spending a year thinking up comedy names to go in my Access database, making a 3D conic graph with 'This is a graph' written on it to cover stupid criteria and doing my HTML coursework in Publisher (Oh yes). Suffice it to say that it was hardly inspiring.
I don't really like end of year lists much, although I'm sure at some point during New Year's Eve I'll drunk tweet some kind of fangirlish braindump. I've done so much this year though and writing it down is helping me to comprehend it.
In the last couple of months, I've done a couple of talks about people who do not fit or identify on the gender binary of male and female. I've always been interested in gender and how society uses it to make assumptions and judgments about people. The interest stems partially from being a woman in technology and how that makes me stand out and also from my own discovery of my gender identity. It's important to raise awareness, and the talks I've done have been well received.
I really love Barcamps. First Play Sheffield was born out of a talk I did with Liam about games at Sheffield Barcamp a few years ago, I've been to the last 3 Gamecamps and this year I've been to Manchester Geek Girls Bracamp (Misspelling intentional) and Barcamp Manchester.
The thing I took away most from the Phil Fish video was the conflict between the 'true' self and the social media persona. On Twitter there is a demand on us to be informative and insightful and if we are not these things then we are unfollowed. Instead of a person I am an RSS feed. Because what goes on the internet stays on the internet, we are constantly censoring ourselves. Self-censorship and the need to please our audience makes it impossible to portray yourself as a normal human being. Weakness is not allowed, either because we may offend, create disagreement or cause people to become bored with us and move on. I do this too, I unfollowed some people this morning because I found myself disagreeing with them more often than I used to. My relationships with people who have never met me change and this involves (on my part) all the emotional stuff that any relationship change incurrs.
Have you ever experienced that feeling where you can't stop noticing something once it's been pointed out to you? Since reading Bad Science I can't help but really notice the wonky 'science' in cosmetic adverts, since learning the concept of heteronormativity I take mental note of how many adverts have a straight romantic couple for no reason.
There are lots of qualities that make someone a good software developer. We are often an entire company in ourselves; backend, frontend, DBA, sysadmin, designer, client relations. We are logical and precise problem solvers as much as we are creative and cautious. Creativity within boundaries, that's what we are and that's the kind of people this profession attracts.
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