So how do we get more women into Rails?

By David Heinemeier Hansson on May 1, 2009

Now that the internet hysteria is dying down, I'd love to explore some of the more concrete things that we could do to actually get more women involved. As I've stated earlier, I doubt simply refraining from having saucy pictures of pole dancers is going to do the trick. If that was all it'd take, it'd be easy beans.

There's going to be a session called Women in Rails at RailsConf next Tuesday, which is bound to be focused a lot of this, but there'll undoubtedly be a lot of good ideas outside of that group as well that we shouldn't wait to get going on. Here are a few ideas to get started with:

Share your discovery story
For the women already in Rails, it'd be great to hear what in particular attracted you to the platform. Highlighting areas of the ecosystem that could get even more support. Perhaps there was an especially well-written introduction that just made everything click. Perhaps a screencast or an interview or something else.

Highlight local communities with women
There are a bunch of local Rails user groups all over the place. If women could get an idea of which groups already had other women present there, it'd probably be a less daunting thought to attend. Knowing that there's at least going to be one other woman in attendance could help a bunch.

Can we pair up with other communities?
Programming communities may indeed often be awfully short on women, but programmers interact with plenty of other professions that are not. I wonder if there are ways where we could get women from, for example, the design community to intermingle on projects like Rails Rumble day. Sorta how the police academy and the nurses in training always throw joint parties in Denmark.

I'd love to hear more and would be more than happy to help promote and push it. Despite the spasm over that one talk and the underlying differences of opinion exposed by it, there's no reason we can't use this as a jumping point to do something about the actual, core issue.

So either email, tweet, or blog your suggestions and stories and I'll use this space to help point it out. Let's treat the low number of women in the community as a bug, cut-out most of the needless bluster, and work on some actual patches. Onward and upwards!