Well, I am (a) female and (b) a survey non-respondent and (c) do not
currently consider myself a member of the code4lib community. Am I
representative of these groups? I have no idea. But since Rosy is my
former colleague and I still miss her, I thought I would chime in.
Why do I not consider myself a member of the code4lib community? (And
given that, why am I on this list?)
At the time that I joined code4lib, I was working for a library vendor.
Although I am an "everything but code" person, I worked regularly with
writers of library code. I aspired to write code in the future. I wanted
to maintain a vague awareness of "library code trends". Many people I
admired were members of code4lib. It seemed like a cool place to be.
I would say that my choice to follow code4lib was "aspirational". I aspire
to be more like the people in code4lib ... someday.
But I'm not actually a library coder. At the moment, I'm something like a
sales engineer. My daily concerns are far from the daily traffic on
code4lib. This is why I don't attend the conference and I would never
suggest a conference presentation.
I'm not sure why more women don't suggest conference presentations. If I
had something to contribute, I'd be right up there. I am not the kind of
person who worries about whether I have something to say nor do I care if
75% of the people at a conference are men.
My guess is that it may be related to a gender gap even within library
technology. Lots of women work in library technology -- as project
managers, systems librarians, webmasters, support, training, and
application analysts. But as the work gets "more technical" -- meaning --
programming, DBA, system administration, authentication, network
engineering -- the workforce gets more male.
The folks doing that kind of work in libraries are also the folks who are
most likely to (a) have something very technical to present and (b) get
funding to attend the conference. My suspicion is that there are many
women working in library systems for whom code4lib is relevant but who are
not primarily programmers.
So, I guess I wonder how much of the code4lib gender gap is a reflection of
the coding gender gap. That gap is real and the fact that fewer women have
programming skills than men is (to my mind) a real problem. But it is not
necessarily a code4lib problem.
While I personally have no desire to become a software engineer, there all
kinds of incredibly stupid things I can't get done because I lack basic
skills. This is inefficient and annoying and yet ... coding leads to jobs
where you continue to improve your code skills while non-coding leads to
jobs like mine. At some point, you have to make the jump.
For me, that point has not yet arrived b/c while I love technology, I do
not quite love it enough to spend my extremely limited free time Learning
Perl. I am, for better or worse, the kind of person who learns my
technical skills *in context**. So far, in my work and personal life, the
context for Perl has not yet arrived. (Being close friends with 3 or 4
Perl programmers who happily write me scripts whenever I need them is also
That said, I consider myself a technical person. I spend my entire day
talking to programmers, network engineers, application analysts, web
services folks, LDAP geeks, and CIOs. I explain our technology and they
explain their environment and together, we find a way.
Then, I explain all of it again to a bunch of people who attended the call
but who have no idea what happened.
Without people like me, our programmers would have to talk to customers,
which would detract from their work. And people like you would be even
more annoyed at your vendors. Just think of me an investment in not hating
your salesperson quite as much as you would otherwise. :-)
So -- the reason I do not attend code4lib conferences is because (a) I do
not currently work in libraries and (b) I do not yet code.
Others? Why don't you attend the conference or present at the conference
or consider yourself part of the code4lib community?