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Ruby on Rails Workshop

Thanks to everyone who contributed and attended the workshop this October. We hope we were successful in hosting an attitude-free, newbie-safe and mama-friendly tech event encouraging women to join the Ruby on Rails community.

Women are a minority in most technical communities, but in open source communities the numbers are even smaller — by a factor of about ten or more.

Moving forward, we encourage our newly empowered programmers to meet monthly and use their skills towards open source projects in a welcoming, collaborative, mixed gendered environment.

Click here to learn more about the Open Source Code Crunch.

Corporate Sponsors:




Individual Sponsors:

Julia Ashmun

Author Archive for Liana Leahy

New Ruby on Rails Study Group

Come join us in our quest to hone our Ruby on Rails skills! Using Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial as our textbook, we will work chapter by chapter building our skills together.

Meetings will be held every-other-week on Wednesday evenings starting at 6:30 pm. and will last approximately 2 hrs. RBM Technologies has graciously donated meeting space. Attendees will chip in to buy a communal dinner. Non-alcoholic drinks will be provided, but feel free to bring your own beverage of choice.

The next meeting will be held at RBM Technologies on March 16th, 6:30 pm, 215 First Street, Cambridge, MA 02142 on the first floor across from the entrance to Technique. The information desk can assist if you have problems finding the office.

RBM Technogliges is a short walk from either the Lechmere or Kendall T-stations. On street parking is tight but sometimes you will get lucky. The Cambridgeside Galleria parking lot is closeby and very affordable after 5pm.

Attendees should have read/studied and completed Chapter 1 & 2 before the next meeting.  We will start with Chapter 3. Bring your laptop, a hard copy of the book if you own one, and your enthusiasm.

The Ruby on Rails Study Group for Women is being coordinated by Liana Leahy,, and Susan McM. Tucker,

Feel free to forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested.

Hiding Your Gender

Ever think that you might get further in your tech career if you were only a man?  James Chartrand of Men with Pens proved this theory to be correct.

There is no such thing as gender equality in technology.  Women must consistently prove themselves to colleagues over and over again.  But try representing yourself as a man, and all this changes.

“Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service” says James.

But your tech cred doesn’t just drop because you’re a woman.  Your race, your accent, your weight, and even your clothes all come in to play.  And forget about getting any respect while your pregnant!

It’s not shocking to think that a person would hide behind an online persona to be judged on the merits of their work alone.  Have you tried it?  Would you like to?

Read more about James’ story here.

Rate Your Speaker

One of the laments you often hear at tech conferences is that there is a dirth of women speakers out there, and how do you find the ones that do exist.

Here’s what you can do to help.  Check out

Make sure the women speakers you have seen or know have a profile and rate the talk.  The presentations can and should include user group presentations etc.

If the woman in question doesn’t have a profile please email her and suggest she get one.

Post Workshop News

We can’t thank everyone enough who contributed and attended the Ruby on Rails Workshop for Women.  From the feedback, it appears to have been a tremendous success.

So cool that folks travelled to Boston from as far away as PA to attend Ruby on Rails Workshop for Women!!

…it makes a huge difference to be able to ask someone stupid ?s.

I like being able to say that I deployed my first Rails application today before lunchtime 🙂 like running a half marathon.

Totally impressed with the amount of Ruby and Rails info the students absorbed.

I want to thank the teaching assistants at #rorw4w. You were never judgmental and always patient.

You know what’s a lot of fun? TAing at #rorw4w.

It was indeed entirely attitude-free, as promised – unique in my experience! I appreciated that so much, and I had a lot of fun, as well.

Read about what our teachers thought about the workshop.  Sarah Allen wrote about Stone Soup and Andy Gregorowicz wrote about the workshop from his perspective.   Or just check out the tweet stream.

Moving forward, we encourage our newly empowered programmers to meet monthly at the Open Source Code Crunch.  If you want to stay in the loop, please join the OSCC mailing list.

Open Source Code Crunch

Women are a minority in most technical communities, but in open source communities the numbers are even smaller — by a factor of about ten or more.

The Open Source Code Crunch seeks to promote mixed gender collaboration. Programmers will meet monthly and use their skills towards open source projects in a welcoming, collaborative, attitude-free, newbie-safe environment.

First meeting will be on October 21st at 6pm
The Berkman Center
23 Everett Street, Second Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 495-7547

Please join our mailing list for future events and news.

Workshop to be Webcast thanks to Sponsors!

The Gender and Technology committee would like to thank all of our generous sponsors who are making this weekend’s Ruby on Rails Workshop for Women possible.  Thanks to them, attendees needn’t leave the workshop in search of coffee and food.  But more importantly, we will be webcasting the event live!  More details here.

While all our sponsors were enthusiastic about contributing towards childcare costs, Julia Ashmun was our sole individual contributor earmarking her donation to waive referral fees for attendees in need of sitter services.

Our first sponsor Hashrocket has got to be one of the coolest dev shops on the planet.  If only because Desi Mcadam works there, founder of DevChix.  Thanks for all your support, Desi!

Congratulations to EngineYard who just raised 19 Million with new investors. Nice to hear good karma coming back to good people.

We also send thanks to GitHub, the most popular Git hosting site.  Brought to you by Logical Awesome.  Don’t you just love that name?

And lastly we are grateful to RailsBridge for inspiring these workshops and reaching out to individuals and groups who are underrepresented in the community.

Thanks so much!!  Can’t wait to meet everyone tomorrow!

Workshop Update

We’re excited for the upcoming Ruby on Rails Workshop for Women event.  The enthusiasm of the ruby on rails community has exceeded expectations.

We’re proud that we’ve been able to offer childcare to our attendees who might not have otherwise been able to attend and due to a generous donation made by Julia Ashmun, the referral fee has been waived!

The focus of the event is to encourage women to participate in open source development.  So workshop coordinators made the request that men who wish to attend find a woman to sign up who might not otherwise have considered checking out a tech event.  There was never any intention to exclude men from the event, but rather enlist their help in broadening the community.

So in response to community feedback and to be as inclusive as possible, we’re opening the event up to anyone who would like to attend — girl geeks, boy geeks, and all geeks in between.  Just sign up here. Looking forward to the day!

Ruby on Rails Event

The Berkman Center at Harvard University in coordination with the Center for Research on Computation and Society is putting together a Ruby on Rails workshop for women on October 16th and 17th.

We are seeking to create an attitude-free, newbie-safe and mama- friendly tech event to encourage women to join the Ruby on Rails community. Men are warmly welcomed when they find a woman who wants to learn Ruby on Rails who will register and bring a guest.

Women are a minority in most technical communities, but in open source communities the numbers are even smaller — by a factor of about ten or more. Moving forward, we would like to encourage our newly empowered programmers to meet monthly and use their skills towards open source projects in a welcoming, collaborative, mixed gendered environment.

For more details, read on

The Motherhood Penalty

Last week, posted Fessing up to being a mom can backfire on job seekers. In this article, it explains that while women are protected against sex-based stereotyping under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “pregnant women and mothers are seen as less dependable, less authoritative, and less committed to their jobs”.

This is particularly true in male dominated fields such as technology where an employee is expected to devote significant off hours on the computer. Keeping up with industry blogs, maintaining website side projects and contributing to open source is becoming an expected norm among web developers. This makes it tough for parents of both genders to stay current, but its assumed that mothers can’t keep up.

So what do you think? Has the motherhood penalty affected your career? Are unrealistic expectations keeping women from pursing the geekier jobs in web/software development?

How Working Couples Can Share It All: Getting to 50/50

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 5:00  7:00 p.m.
Radcliffe Gymnasium, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge
RSVP by April 6, to or at (617) 495-9143

A Conversation with the authors of Getting to 50/50, Sharon Meers (Harvard College 86) and Joanna Strober, followed by a discussion with Harvard working couples. Reception immediately following the discussion.

Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober are professionals, wives, and mothers with five young children between them. They understand the challenges and rewards of two-career households. They also know that families thrive not in spite of working mothers but because of them. After interviewing hundreds of parents and employers, surveying more than a thousand working mothers, and combing through the latest government and social science research, the authors have discovered that the entire family all reap huge benefits when couples commit to share equally as both breadwinners and caregivers. The starting point? An attitude shift that puts you on the road to 50/50plus the positive step-by-step advice in this book. Here are real-world solutions for parents who want to get ahead in their careers and still meet their family obligations.

Sharon Meers was a Managing Director at Goldman, Sachs & Co. until April 2005.
She serves on the advisory council of the Clayman Institute. Sharon and her husband, Steve, founded the Partnership for Parity at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Dual-Career Research Initiative at Harvard.

Joanna Strober is currently a Managing Director of a fund that invests in private equity partnerships at Sterling Stamos Capital Management.

Event Sponsored by the Harvard Dual-Career Research Initiative, Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development & Diversity and the Harvard Human Resources Office of Work/Life

Post Conference Download

Thank you to everyone who attended yesterday’s Gender and Technology Conference at the Berkman Center.  It was an amazing and overwhelming afternoon.  And while we wished we could have fit in more discussion on each topic, I hope that everyone had a chance to chime in and be heard.

The committee is still working on culminating thoughts, notes, bibliographies, etc from yesterday’s meeting.  A video of yesterday’s conference is forthcoming and will be posted to the blog as soon as we have it.  And while the Google Moderator tool wasn’t utilized as much as we would have hoped, there was a bit of action via Twitter which you can check out here:

We also have a good number of folks signed up to blog for the month of April.  Feel free to contact us if you would like to contribute.  We’re always happy to hear from you, so don’t be shy about emailing us if inspiration strikes later.

Unfortunately, we failed to mention our FaceBook presence yesterday.  The Berkman Gender and Technology facebook page can be found at:   This group has been somewhat neglected by the Berkman Committee and yet it boasts 1060 members and a number of interesting threads already in progress.  We’re hoping to revive it as a way to keep our conversations and momentum flowing.  

I’d like to start things off by initiating a renaming conversation.  In light of yesterday’s diverse conversations, what should the umbrella committee at Berkman call ourselves?  Log in and join the group to post a suggestion here:

You can also continue yesterday’s discussions via FaceBook here:

Thanks again for an amazing afternoon.  Please check back with us soon for more!