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Geek Wives, geeks, girls, women and me

June 9th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Reading Scoble’s aggregator blog is like being invited to his house for dinner. It’s as if he spent the day driving around picking up the best dishes from all the restaurants he knows, and then he invites you to come over and sample the buffet spread out across an enormous table. Through the wonders of RSS, I can sit and peer into the pots, peek into each dish, take a whiff or taste and see what I want to eat from his selections.

I’m grateful Scoble resurrected his aggregator blog recently and since the weekend he has posted hundreds of entries. In one he linked to Sara Comments on Women in Computer Science and in the other he linked to the Geek Wives Club women unified by the common condition of having husbands that carry their mistresses–I mean computers–wherever they go… (link is broken so I can’t link directly, but I did read it)

While I’m happy to make new friends and meet other women, I’m not sure I belong in the Geek Wives Club. It’s not only the fact that I don’t own a sarong. Sure, my husband likes his computers. When we were first married, I called his machine Mistress Mac. I was jealous.

But things have changed in time. Our marriage has improved and grown deeper – or maybe it’s me who has grown in maturity and security. I no longer envy any microchips, even pretty-“platinum”-encased ones with fruit logos on the lid.

Part of these changes in me are also changes in my use of computers. Like Ted does, now I find myself spending hours on-line, reading and writing blogs. I don’t feel I can point the finger at my husband, when I’m guilty myself of sitting and staring at the screen. One night he came to talk to me at my desk and thought it was funny to see the role reversal – I was in the middle of trying to hack the HTML for my blog templates, frustrated and focussed on my computer with an intensity usually reserved for Ted. I can’t bring my laptop to bed, as he can (he’s only done it once or so) but that’s because it was my choice not to get a wireless card for my machine. Otherwise, who knows, maybe I’d be tempted too…I feel my husband might be as much a candidate for a Geek Husband’s Club. (do they wear sarongs?! or maybe Utilikilts?)

Sara Ford’s thoughts on her experiences, how she became involved with computers and programming, make it clear that I am not in the same class she is. I’ve been the only female student in a course (college p-chem) and one of a few in my science -intense route through the educational system. I did well in math when I was in school. But I didn’t study computer science or spend my spare time writing lines of code when I was a child. I can’t pretend I’ve had the experiences she’s had.

I’m not sure where I fit. Wherever I’ve worked, I’ve found myself as the one trying to help the office get on-line, create a web site, or access email. I’ve been one of the most computer-aware and Internet-conscious employees in my (small) group. Now I find myself explaining “RSS” and “weblog” to my friends and family. In the circles where I spend time, I find I am often the “geekiest”.

But I’m not very geeky at all, compared to Sara or my husband or anyone who can code. I’d like to learn. I try to learn. I have to be realistic though and realize that at this time in my life, I don’t have the intensity to study and master many languages, computer or other. I want to learn more HTML and then I had planned to try Python. At the moment I’m hoping I can sit alongside my girls when Ted teaches them computer science. But I know I can’t try to compensate for more than twenty years of technical education and pursuits that I’ve missed.

I’m not sure where I fit – not quite a Geek Wife, but definitely not a programmer. I understand more than I would have, if I hadn’t married Ted. At the same time, I can’t swim in all the acronyms or attempt to understand certain conversations.

Sara wrote

Perhaps with the advent of the Internet in so many households, we’ll start to see the number of women involved in computer science increase.

I hope so. I want my girls to grow up talking about RSS and XML. I want it to be their second language. Second nature. I want them to know how to program. Maybe they can marry a Geek. But I hope they want to be one too. At least a little.

Dave Winer linked to an interesting article in the BBC about teenage bloggers

Teenage boys and girls are using blogs, easily publishable online diaries, in many more similar ways than has been predicted, according to a study.

As I’ve been reading blogs this past week, I’ve noticed more discussion concerning the question: Where are the women?

I believe that the complicated answer to the question has multiple dimensions. Numerous factors play parts, including sociology, biology, neurology, psychology, sexuality, computer science courses, educational systems, video games, previous generations and economics. I can’t, shouldn’t and won’t attempt to provide the complex answer; that role belongs to those with expertise and experience that I lack.

But from what I see, I feel there is a simple observation I can say in response to “Where are the women?”

Many women are here now.
Many more are coming.

Tags: women

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Jun 9, 2004 at 9:20 am

    David and I frequently sit beside each other in bed using our laptops – for vastly different purposes! I used to be doing email and word processor and instant messaging and photo stuff, and now of course blog stuff too, whilst he is coding away…but we are unified in our direction of gaze…and we can reach out and hold hands while thinking or waiting… 😉