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Women in Technology O’Reilly Media, esteemed publisher and friend of technology (and SAP – check out Tim O’Reilly’s keynote while you’re at TechEd in Las Vegas in October) has gone live with a new online series today called “Women in Technology: Hear Us Roar.” Check it out at:

http://www.oreillynet.com/womenintech

From the press release: “With clarity, honesty, and wit, this collection reveals what it’s like to be in the minority of the male-dominated geek culture.” Says Tatiana Apandi, Associate Editor at O’Reilly:

“As the series progresses, I hope readers find that this myriad of female perspectives shows how valuable it is to hear different points of view. Whether readers think there are issues on which we need to work or that there are no issues at all, one underlying truth is that we need to support each other as individuals and help one another with our separate goals.”

In the first article, Social Engineering, Leslie Hawthorne draws some fascinating parallels between the “approved” roles of motherhood and open-source-like service (and subservience) to the community:

“Like everyone else, I’ve been called many things in my day, and often the word used is mother – ‘a mother of open source’ or ‘geek mama.’ …It’s not a compliment I accept without reservation. It brands me as feminine in a masculine world, it implies difference where the optimal outcome is equality and, by extension, sameness.”

Building upon that theme and taking a wide, fresh-air view on the benefits of diversity, she continues:

“I find myself spending time with individuals from many open source projects with wildly divergent aims and methodologies, but without exception the healthiest ones are those who place a high value on contribution of any kind, not just in the creation of code. Among these folks, I find my efforts are accorded the highest of respect and I am treated as an equal, if not as a goddess, for the simple things I do each day: bringing people together, providing structure and organization, understanding pragmatic but often overlooked details, communicating effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and helping them to work most effectively with one another. Some may call that mothering. I’d call it social engineering.”

I’m quite pleased about this series and look forward to seeing how it progresses. O’Reilly Media, with their books series, blogs, conferences, and general powers of parsing the latest in important technology trends, provide an important radar and one I try to tune into whenever possible. Yet I’ve written semi-critically (internally) about the low representation of female techies in their public midst of authors, bloggers, and conference speakers. I look forward to changing my mind.

Although this series runs through September only, perhaps as a result or on the flip-side we can look forward to enjoying a greater balance of women in the midst of O’Reilly as a whole.

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