Apr 01 2010

Women in Web Design and Development

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By Andy Walpole

The 20th century was witness to phenomenal social and economic changes in the status of women. Suffrage has been widely adopted around the world, anti-discrimination legislation is commonplace, contraception is widely available and abortion is legal. These have all dramatically improved the position of women in society.

One could argue that women—at least professional ones—now have more control of their own lives than at any other time in history. Yet, there is still a lot of unease among women in the Web design and development industry about their subordinate position in what is widely viewed as a Web patriarchy.

This unease regularly erupts into open debate, just as it happened following a recent edition of the Boagworld podcast.


The Boagworld Incident

Sarah Parmenter, You Know Who design
Sarah Parmenter, You Know Who design studio.

Boagworld is a popular weekly podcast created by Paul Boag and Marcus Lillington. To celebrate their 200th show, they held a 12-hour marathon featuring many leading names in the online creative industry.

One of their guests was Sarah Parmenter who has developed a successful career for herself with You Know Who design studio.

Coming from Essex, a county in England that has long been the brunt of misogynist jokes about being the home of “dumb blond” women, she was shocked to discover that similar openly offensive attitudes existed in the Web design community, as she herself explains:

“Boagworld was broadcasting live for 12 hours on the Internet, and we were all pulled in at various points via a Skype video link, and in the broadcast there was also a Ustream chat. During the day I was logging on and I noticed it was getting very personal about people, and users were getting very impatient with the technical difficulties they were having. So, when I came on to do my slot I made the decision to turn the chat off, as I’d rather not be able to read it back and see what people were saying about me.

“As far as I was concerned, the broadcast went well and we had a laugh. Then I looked at my Twitter feed and looked at my emails, and people were appalled at the language of the chat room when I had been talking about Web design.”

The juvenile comments cut to her core because they ignored her worth as a Web designer and questioned whether she achieved her current position because of her good looks.

Rachel Andrew, another speaker from that day, gives her take on the incident:

“It was just really odd. People started making these comments, and you would look at them and think, ‘I can’t believe that people are even making comments like that—that’s really weird.’ I think everyone who was involved with the day more or less ignored it. It was very nasty and very personal, and it wasn’t even, ‘Oh, I don’t think this person is any good.’ They were just nasty comments.”

Unfortunately, Sarah had informed her clients earlier about her appearance and then had to spend the rest of the weekend, equally enraged and embarrassed, doing damage control.

Rachel Andrew, edgeofmyseat.com
Rachel Andrew, edgeofmyseat.com.

Women in the Online Creative Industry

Accurate figures are hard to come by, but one estimate says that men outnumber women in the Web design industry by roughly three to one. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this disparity widens even more sharply among back-end coders.

According to a report commissioned by An Event Apart in 2007, women not only are in a small minority but are also more likely to be overlooked for promotion.

This has been the subject of much debate in the community, with a wide variety of reasons being given for the gap. Some wonder whether women’s supposed innate sociability is incompatible with the circumstance of working for hours and hours in isolation in front of the computer. Others lament the lack of prominent female role models for the next generation of students.

Many people believe that designers in the community are welcoming and progressive in their views, but evidence shows that this is not always the case.

Amy Cullen
Amy Cullen, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Amy Cullen works for a prominent Internet company in Minnesota. She has persevered in her job despite the initial frosty welcome from her male co-workers:

“When I first started out, it was quite painful. A lot of them actually thought I was too dumb to deal with it and that I wasn’t going to get it, and they were very curt when I asked a question. To them, it was the dumbest question ever, and they had no qualms letting me know it was. But you have to grow a thick skin and move beyond that.

“It was a bit of a surprise because it is a new field of work. You kind of expect it with construction, which has been around forever and is a typical man’s job. But with something so new you don’t necessarily expect that”.

Although Rachel Andrew’s now runs her own company, she has previously worked in all-male workplaces:

“It has never really flustered me. I’ve worked backstage in theater, and you don’t get a more blokey environment than that. I’m fairly used to it, but I don’t think you should have to be used to it because it shouldn’t occur really.”

PHP Women

PHP Women

In 2007, Arizonian Kathy Marks issued a militant call to exclude men from the debate:

“I actually don’t want to discuss this issue with men at all. Frankly, I feel that men don’t really have a place in the solution to this problem, and so I’d prefer to leave them out of the discussion altogether.”

The comment came after she witnessed an ignorant contribution from a male attendee at a conference. Asked now whether her stance would lead to ghettoizing rather the demolishing of walls, she has recanted her previous comment:

“I am concerned about the lack of women in our industry and in IT in general. It bothers me that there are so few of us and that our numbers are decreasing rather than increasing. We need more women in the sciences and in engineering. Why are there fewer and fewer of us?

“The problem isn’t that we need to be separated out—we’ve been separated out. That’s the problem, not the solution”.

Elizabeth Naramore is co-founder of PHP Women, which was formed in 2006 expressly to promote the status of women who work with coding languages. But it is not a women’s-only group, and three men serve on the nine-person organizing committee.

Echoing Kathy’s recent remark, PHP Women is particularly keen to break down any barriers between the sexes. Explains Elizabeth:

“I was chatting with a friend on IRC, and we didn’t see too many women in the industry. It’s like, ‘Where the hell is everybody? Surely we aren’t the only ones?’ So, we started [PHP Women], and now it’s grown tremendously, and I’m glad that women don’t feel so isolated.”

She has nothing but good things to say about its reception within the wider PHP network:

“We are so incredibly lucky. We have so much support from the PHP community at large. It is absolutely tremendous. The guys are behind us 150%. They are as big advocates for us as anyone. They even buy our t-shirts and are wearing them.”

Elizabeth herself speaks at a number of conferences, but the lack of women speakers is noticeable at most design gatherings. When it comes to figuring out a solution, few are enthusiastic about instituting minimum quotas for female speakers or establishing all-women seminars.

Canadian freelancer Vivien Anayian cites the lack of child-care facilities as a turn-off for some:

“The problem is, who are women are going to leave their children with, because they are mothers. Fathers can go to a conference, and their wives will stay at home with their children. I see in the industry that if there is an acclaimed woman designer, she either doesn’t have any children yet or her children are grown up and she can spend time promoting herself.”

Advice to Young Women

No doubt, thousands of teenagers and students are thinking of pursuing a career in website design. The ever-expanding Web indeed offers fulfilling and challenging jobs to those who are prepared to work hard. But any women who enters the industry—as in any other—needs to go in with her eyes wide open.

Elizabeth Naramore offers practical advice to those contemplating this path:

“Make sure you find yourself in a community where you feel comfortable, whether it is PHP Women or a local user group. Find yourself a community, integrate in that community, and keep them around for moral support and guidance. If you are out there on your own, you’ll have no one to bounce ideas off; and the first time you come up against something negative or some jerk treats you wrong, that can be very intimidating, and it can be very hard on your motivation.”

Groups that are open to new members include WordPress meetup groups, Drupal, registered Joomla user groups, PHP user groups, Ruby meetup groups and Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners.

In fact, if you search with the query web design on meetup.com, you’ll find over 1,000 separate entries.

Perhaps you are already involved in a local association that seeks fresh faces. If so, post the details below.

The last word comes from Vivien Anayian, who leaves us with a plea for female honesty:

“The advice I would give is to be yourself and show your passion. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t try to be one of the guys. You are a woman: be proud of that. Show your passion and keep learning, and people will see and respect that.”

About the author

Andy Walpole is a freelance web designer and developer in London. You can read his blog here: http://www.suburban-glory.com/blog

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About the Author

Comments and Discussions
  • Jaina, 01 April 2010

    Really great article – thanks for writing it. I’m actually quite shocked at some of the things that have been said about women in the web design/development/IT field. As someone who’s worked in all three (IT straight out of uni, in a 20 strong team of men, software development and now web design) I can’t say i’ve faced much in the way of sexism, apart from when I was in the software development field. Though that was from men in the minority.

    It’s funny you should say that men outnumber women by 3 to 1 in the web design field, as I work in a web design team of four, and yep, there’s me as the only girl with 3 other blokes.

    When asked about what i do for a living, when i say i’m a web designer, there’s still a surprise reaction. As if it’s still something very unique for a woman to do. I wonder when that’s going to change.

  • Krishna, 01 April 2010

    This is a brilliant article! I often wonder myself how many women there are in the Web Design industry – quite clearly not enough!!

    Like Vivien Anayi said “The advice I would give is to be yourself and show your passion. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t try to be one of the guys. You are a woman: be proud of that. Show your passion and keep learning, and people will see and respect that.”..

    I did exactly that at the start of this year. I re-branded myself giving methat women central “flowery” look and feel on my website. Not only did it work well as I receive compliments everyday, but it gave my the push I needed to make myself want to succeed in this male dominated industry…

    my blog is soon to be launched and I cant wait! :)

    Very inspiring article…
    keep up the good work!

    :)

  • Bruno, 01 April 2010

    Nice article. I want to suggest another great woman in the design community : Sneh Roy, co-founder of LBOI (http://www.littleboxofideas.com/blog/about)
    Cheers,
    Bruno

  • NooN, 01 April 2010

    That’s just gave me more strengh to go forward
    Thak you for the great post ;)

  • Sam Richardson, 01 April 2010

    It is sad to hear yet another story about a group of men acting like sexist morons. Unfortunately, it adds new fuel to the “men this” and “women that” fire which just fosters more separation.

    It feels silly to even have to say but we should be judging people on what they do, how they act and what they say, not on what sex/race etc.

    That said, I am a bit concerned as this is the first time I have seen any “Women in…” nonsense in the web design industry. It is prevalent in so many other industries and although it may start with good intentions, it always seems to end up being more about women than the industry. This is just as backwards as the dynamic which started the group. You want recognition for what you do, not because you are a woman right?

    Let’s stay focused on good work and good people, not on gender, race etc.

  • Richelle Anderson, 01 April 2010

    In my area I believe that I am the only female web designer so I feel the tension from my male “colleagues” all of the time. I have been in business for for almost two years and I am doing okay. It all makes me a stronger designer and developer in spite of comments I might hear through the grapevine. Have strength and prove them wrong it is the best defense!

  • Cara Jo Miller, 01 April 2010

    It is awesome to see an article like this written. Many times while browsing articles about the ‘best web designers this month’ or whatever (you know what I’m referencing), it’s all to often men. I can say from experience being a woman in web design is challenging. A lot of times people think you’re just a designer, and not actually the one that codes everything. They’re blown away that I can actually write code. In my work environment I am the only female designer/coder that I know of. I’ve actually been waiting at the elevator with my PHP and CSS books and have had people ask me if I’m the new receptionist. I’m just glad to see recognition that female designers and coders do exist and we’re not all just dumb blondes.

  • Tomo, 01 April 2010

    I’m still relatively new to web design and have been surprised that these things still happen. As a guy I have to keep quiet despite not agreeing with things that are said and done (somethings quite shocking) – sadly more for my own security than anything. If anything I prefer to work with women as it makes for a nicer atmosphere and they are just as good at their jobs, often better.

    I think comments like Sarah got are similar to those you see on youtube – people feel free to say whatever they like because they can hide behind their computer.

    I think in the past the web was quite a ‘geeky’ job direction to go in – thus attracting mostly men, but now its becoming more accessible I think more women and people from other races will get involved and hopefully make things a bit better.

  • Mary, 01 April 2010

    what can be your disadvantage, while aware…you could also turn it into a great asset especially when it comes to the dumb blonde thing. Besides that I like a little battle when it comes down to work, it keeps your spirit alive & breathing. I was lucky to be in a class with 4 girls, of which including me 3 are still active in web design.

  • Andy, 01 April 2010

    There’s also a belief that women should be placed in the more creative roles in the web industry. I think this is wrong.
    Working as a .NET developer, in my previous two workplaces there have been women doing backend .NET development jobs, alongside the males and doing it really well.
    I’m going to raise my hands and admit that the first time I came across this, I was surprised to see women in these roles. Not that I thought a women should be any less capable, but just that I hadn’t come across it much before. While working, there was no discrimination made between the male and female programmers. Everyone had respect for each others skills and we just worked to get the jobs done.
    Right or wrong, there’s going to be a transitional period where men are ‘surprised’ to encounter a woman in a role which was previously thought to be the reserve of geeky males. A minority of idiots will make dumb comments, but most will simply shrug and carry on as normal.

  • Ella, 01 April 2010

    I’ve been working in this since 2001, the first 6 years writing code most of the time. I found that most people -male and female -didn’t care that I was a woman, but the few who did made working life unnecessarily difficult.

    Looking back, I was a pretty good developer -but I did not know that at the time.

    It is the sexist attitudes that stick out – we don’t notice the majority of people who are cool.

  • ratna mutia, 01 April 2010

    this is a great article.Sometimes i feel lonely as a woman, since in my office, i’m the only one. And I’m surprised there is phpwomen!

  • Lena Tailor, 01 April 2010

    Amazingly well written article. What a great talent you have presented here.
    Sarah Parmenter is rock star….

    GIRL POWER …. :)

  • JD, 01 April 2010

    I am the only girl in my current web design team. In other places I have worked at, I have also been the only girl in the web design team. At interviews I often ask if there are any other female web designers/developers. In my career thus far, women have mostly been involved in the print side of things… not web.

    I’ve just shown this article to someone at work, and the comment I got back was ‘Bah… women’.

  • Jordan Walker, 01 April 2010

    Great article, I have seen the phpwomen website and love the idea.

  • Fanny Campos A, 01 April 2010

    I am a web designer, and the truth I’ve often wondered if it worth it to withstand the abuse, both customers and colleagues for the work, I have 8 years working in the business and was thinking about changing area, both environment as the requirements become unbearable few days

  • Laura Sultan, 01 April 2010

    I have been working as a web designer for 9 years and own my own web design company. The fact that I have children at home, including a 16 month old, is precisely the reason I have never attended a web design conference.

    However, I think it’s a fallacy to think that just because women web designers are underrepresented at conferences, we aren’t here.

    I belong to a very active group of women web designers. Each of us owns our own web design company. This is the best professional network I’ve ever belonged to with a large and active membership. If you are a woman web designer who owns your own company, check it out at http://www.womendesignersgroup.com.

    If you are a woman web designer and you don’t own your own company, check out http://www.wise-women.org.

    • Susan Arndt, 01 April 2010

      Thanks for the article!
      I must say though, it has never been a disadvantage for me to be a woman in this industry until now.

  • Kelly Kuehneman, 01 April 2010

    What a fabulous article! Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful women’s stories. Sad to think times have not changed more readily. Not so surprising that the great designers and artists in history were dominated by men; it’s a shame more women aren’t receiving their rightful place among those honored today for their talent and skill sets, be it in web design or related fields.

  • That Guy, 01 April 2010

    Oh I get it… April Fools, right? lol

  • rjene, 01 April 2010

    thanks for writing this!~ very inspiring.
    cheers to the brave women in web design!

  • David T. Miller, 01 April 2010

    Very interesting article. I am surprised and saddened that the subjects of the articles have had to undergo those appalling experiences. I hadn’t given too much thought that there aren’t many women in the industry until now. You almost take it for granted that when dealing with someone in the industry, especially on the back end, that it will be a male.

  • Stacey, 01 April 2010

    Great article! While I haven’t really experienced this at my job, it was a different story while I was doing my comp sci degree. For a lot of group projects, instead of doing backend coding, my group would always want me to “pretty up” the project. And for one of my final projects, which I took charge of since I was also working on a similar project for another class, a group member actually said in the presentation that he learned that he “didn’t like working with girls” when our prof asked what we learned while doing this project (and I was of course the only girl in the group). It’s great to know that there are groups out there to find support in! :)

  • A Mom Web Designer, 01 April 2010

    Although I was pleased with most of your article, I was a little disgusted near the beginning. How does abortion being legal improve the position of women in society?

    • Andy Walpole, 01 April 2010

      Because it stops women having to pay somebody in the back street sticking brandy and a coat hanger up their…

  • Mohamed Jama, 01 April 2010

    giggty giggty goo, alright!

  • Xo66uT, 01 April 2010

    Where is photos women in development ?

  • Julia, 01 April 2010

    Thanks for the article. It keeps me motivated and be sure that I’m on the right track! ;) I love my job

  • Nicole Foster, 01 April 2010

    Great article and absolutely true even outside of Web Design and Development. I am also an avid gamer that loves her Xbox. Almost every time I talk during a game or in the lobby of one, I get harassed.

    Nonetheless, I am fortunate to not go through what other women in the Web Design community have. It’s a sad, but true fact with any industry that is male based. I have faith that things will improve for women who want to pursue an amazing career (:

  • Christina Rosepapa, 01 April 2010

    This article really nailed it. Use to bother me being in a male dominated industry especially in the early days of web technology. I don’t really think about it or notice it, and it helps to have a support group of other women doing the same thing. Women designers bring a unique perspective.

  • Rob Docherty, 01 April 2010

    I’m starting a learning community for women. :)

    I’d love a woman’s feedback via email or twitter: @robdocherty

  • Mindy, 01 April 2010

    Thank you for this article! As a previous Computer Science student and a new member of the web development industry, I am lucky to work and to have worked with people who recognized my abilities without regard to my gender.

  • Cristina, 01 April 2010

    I am all for women in programming and designing professions. I loved to see a group called php women and got all excited about it. Unfortunately, when I got to that site, I was disappointed. It completely breaks on Internet Explorer, and it could look a lot better and exciting. Now, I understand that the goal of that site is not to look good, but at least it should be cross-browser compatible. I would have contacted them directly, except that there is no contact form. The idea behind php women is a great one though.

  • Anne, 01 April 2010

    I’ve been a developer for about 10 years now. I think that the women in the industry should stand together and support one another; as a collective we can accomplish a great deal.

    Women are well suited to the design/development industry because we are naturally intuitive, which brings a whole new dimension to problem solving and creativity.

    A few men may find talented women threatening to what they may falsely perceive as their exclusive domain (women have been involved with the internet, both technically and creatively, since its very early days guys – brush up on your history! http://www.computerhistory.org/internet_history/).

    So really, should we care what a few ignoramuses think about women in the industry? I’ve landed great jobs because I am a woman – because I bring a different, fresh perspective to the table as a female.

    As women, we can, and should, stand up proudly in this industry. Don’t hide your light under a bushel because some ‘modern’ men still haven’t evolved from being cavemen.

  • Anne, 01 April 2010

    I see my previous comment was not accepted? Because I posted a link to an internet history site? Come on! :D

    I’ve been a developer for about 10 years, and yes, women are very capable of being great web site designers and developers. Why? Because we are naturally intuitive – this brings a whole new dimension to problem solving and creativity.

    Some men out there may feel that the male-dominated web industry is not a place for women, but these guys are few and far between.

    Women in the industry should stand together and support each other – there’s no need to hide one’s light under the bushel because of a few cavemen.

    • Sue Smiles, 27 June 2010

      I agree that women have an advantage over men in the web industry. I am a web developer specialising in javascript and asp.net. I’ve written my own content management system and shopping cart, so not just a lightweight designer playing with shapes and colours! Most of my customers are women and some have even searched for a female web person after having had bad experiences with young, brash male web (so called) professionals.
      We have a lot to offer!

  • Creative Nuts, 01 April 2010

    very nice article :)

  • crashfellow, 01 April 2010

    I’ve worked with female designers in the past, and do in my current job.

    Two of them happen to be two of the best designers i’ve met. Females often bring a different style to design, just as people of different backgrounds do. I think it allows for a better overall design industry when sites don’t all look the same.

    I must however say… i don’t believe it’s a sexism thing, because speaking as a guy, I wouldn’t mind seeing more women in the office.

  • Tessa, 01 April 2010

    I never really thought about how male-dominated the industry was when I first started out, but when I published a couple of tutorials over at NetTuts a while back, I was surprised to see a lot of comments about the fact that I was a girl – mostly they were positive or supportive (apparently I have a “women’s patience”), but it bugged me a bit that people thought that was important. It started a debate in the comments that I tried to stay out of… I wish people wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it.

  • Nick Burd, 01 April 2010

    I don’t understand why its considered a big deal about women in the field… Its just like any other profession, there is no reason why they do not belong or why it should be a surprise when we hear about a lady developer.

    I know of plenty successful women who design and develop websites.

    Its pretty sad that guys need to stoop so low to embarrass themselves like that.

    • Rachel Haywire, 01 April 2010

      Women were seen as novelty eye candy pre social networking websites. Nobody even believed that I was a woman when I posted on mid-90′s internet forums. We were virtually non-existent online.

  • Amanda Moore, 01 April 2010

    Another online community that openly welcomes females in everything that goes on is the Habari community (http://www.habariproject.org). It is mentioned right up front on the main website page, as well as in other areas of their support wiki. There are only a few females that actively take-part in that community (me being one of them) but the fact of how open they are is what makes it that much better and welcoming.

  • Rachel Haywire, 01 April 2010

    I really enjoyed reading this as another woman in the web design universe. I started coding html at a really young age and almost all of my friends were virtual. The evolution of this subculture is quite interesting.

  • Sirkka, 02 April 2010

    The web have been a great boost for creativ women around the world.

  • James Thorpe, 02 April 2010

    I love how ignorant everyone is to all the POSITIVE discrimination for women that goes on constantly. I can’t remember the last time someone wrote a blog post complaining about how men all over the world are expected to hold doors open for women, or how unfair it is that women use their breasts when they want something they’re not supposed to have.

    Quite frankly, get over it. There will always be positive and negative discrimination for every age, sex, and race.

    If you’re female and are mortally offended by any of what I just said, ask yourself this: Why does Molly Holzschlag not have any problems with sexism?

    I’ll tell you why, because she doesn’t brand herself as a “woman in web design” – she brands herself as a person. The fact that she’s a woman is totally irrelevant, she knows her stuff, and that’s what she cares about.

    In the mean time a lot of all YOU guys (or rather: girls) are merrily skipping around accepting features on list posts of “top 50 female web designers” and “30 hottest women in web design” and “20 girl web designers I’d like to marry”. Of course often you enjoy that so much, that you go away and write your own version of that exact same list all over again, and so the cycle continues. By doing these things, YOU are telling people that the fact you’re female is a big deal – so why are you so surprised that it gets picked up on in a negative way as well as a positive one?

    You made your bed. Now lie in it.

    • Anne, 02 April 2010

      Wow, there are list posts about top women designers on the internet? List posts that women have written themselves? Where? Please send me the links I’d love to see that …

      All I have ever seen are list posts of top designers, developers, whatever … and guess what? None of them contain a single woman designer, and all of them were written by … you guessed it! Guys.

      So before you sit and sanctimoniously spout off a bunch of nonsense, you may want to go and check your facts.

      • James Thorpe, 02 April 2010

        Just cause you haven’t seen them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Go check your own facts.

    • Andy Walpole, 02 April 2010

      “Quite frankly, get over it. There will always be positive and negative discrimination for every age, sex, and race.”

      What kind of nonsense is that? Nobody should accept discrimination. It’s just not expectable. Full stop.

      “I love how ignorant everyone is to all the POSITIVE discrimination for women that goes on constantly. I can’t remember the last time someone wrote a blog post complaining about how men all over the world are expected to hold doors open for women”

      Being polite and thoughtful has nothing whatsoever to with discrimination. If I used a door I’d linger to keep it open for anybody – man or woman – who was entering behind me.

      “In the mean time a lot of all YOU guys (or rather: girls) are merrily skipping around accepting features on list posts of “top 50 female web designers” and “30 hottest women in web design” and “20 girl web designers I’d like to marry”.”

      I actually agree with you on this. Those lists are pointless and quite embarrassing.

  • penelope, 02 April 2010

    Thank you for the article. It certainly maturely addressed many of the issues women encounter in the web design & development sector.

    An additional risk that women face is sexual harassment from men in power roles in the industry. One individual, in particular, consistently goes after new women in the web design community. He’s left a wake of devastation to the dignity and self-respect of these bright women, because he misrepresents his situation and takes advantage of their situation. He is their idol, and he shines his light on them, telling them they are talented, and if they do fall under his spell, they are rewarded temporarily with all the gifts his power can provide, until his narcissism is fed.

    What do we do about this behavior, sexual harassment in the industry?

    • Andy Walpole, 02 April 2010

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean.

      If there is sexual harassment in the workplace then there are many ways to deal with that, but outside the close confines of work then women are at liberty to ignore emails or walk away.

      Unless this guy is some sort of crazed stalker – in which case call the police!

      • penelope, 02 April 2010

        Everyone in the industry knows this person does this, and everyone just looks the other way, but every young woman who begins to rise, he goes after. Many have left the industry because of it. He’s married. He’s mentally unwell. It is hurting the women in our industry.

        That you don’t know about it, speaks volumes of goodness about you.

  • Gretll, 02 April 2010

    Hi i’m a young girl too that loves to design but no friend of my likes it too -so i’m alone when it comes to having fun with designing would love to have some female friends to have contact with for inspiration and support. if you wish contact me for friendship !

  • tintedPixel, 02 April 2010

    I have been a developer/design for more years than I care to admit. It has been my experience that, Male or female, if you have the skillz – you get the respect.

    • Michelle, 02 April 2010

      I’d agree. Not that I doubt women are discriminated against, especially when it comes to pay; but as a freelancer, with skillz, I’ve been able to set my own rates and have never worried about the potential clients that looked at my estimates and said ‘no’. Not able to accept my estimation of my worth; not worth my time. Period.

      As for colleagues in the field not respecting me, well, so be it until I change it. I accept that there are a lot of geeks out there that know more than I do, and I know my field: its leaders can be impatient, snide, and scornful of those that are less tech-savvy. From what I’ve seen that’s an attitude that transcends gender barriers.

      How it’s expressed may vary – you don’t slap down a 17-yr-old dude with illusions of being a .NET guru the same way you slap down a 40-yr-old marketing director who thinks she knows everything about Drupal – but the motivation is the same: to disillusion someone who doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

      That said, only idiots use gender (or hair color, race, sexual orientation, etc etc) as a *way* to slap someone down; that’s just boring. A more interesting discussion might ask if women approach web design and development differently than men, and if so how, why and to what advantage.

    • Mark, 09 April 2010

      I agree with u tinted Pixel… Employers don’t care about genders, If you got the talent you are in the game…

  • Alex Thomas, 02 April 2010

    I think one name is omitted in the article, Sreelakshmi Suresh, she is a Child Web Designer….designed more than 20 websites and now she is 11 years old… see her parsonal site http://www.sreekutty.com

  • Kristin Currier, 03 April 2010

    Great article. I’m not surprised, either. I’m new to web design -barely 2 years in, and teaching myself everything- but I’m a visual artist, and I’m sorry to say sexism is nothing new. The fine arts have a bad history of trumpeting only its male artists, women always get the short shrift. I also have worked in construction type careers side-by-side with blue-collar boys, and feel quite comfortable with this type of comraderie. You work just as hard as the boys do, and this begets respect. What stymies me is that smart men in the design, arts and “geek” fields treat women worse than my blue-collar coworkers. I suppose it is a fragile ego thing. That said, I work with some brilliant back-end developers, ALL WOMEN. They rock.

  • Barney, 03 April 2010

    Great article. The boagworld incident is a bit vague though. I assume it’s not worth directly referencing the sexist content because of how offensive it is, and it’s more of a ‘if you were there then you know’. This bit sounds serious though, and I just don’t get it.

    ‘Sarah had informed her clients earlier about her appearance and […] had to spend the rest of the weekend, equally enraged and embarrassed, doing damage control.’

    Equally to what or whom? What damage would be caused by informing clients as to her appearance?

    BTW as much as I think it’s a good idea for women in the field to find personable trade-related communities for support, you can do that very easily without resorting to Joomla ;)

  • Timur, 03 April 2010

    I am impressed! Admire this girls

  • Harley, 03 April 2010

    People are strange. I had a similar thing except with being younger than everybody in the industry. Sarah is gorgeous and she is successful- old men need to stop guarding the only ground they have by putting down women such as the ones in this article, and it’s sad that groups such as phpwomen need to exist (as they probably tend to give off a suffrage vibe).

    good read :)

  • Michelle, 04 April 2010

    Fantastic article :)

    It is very hard being a women in this profession, although things are getting better I still find myself being ignored and overlooked by some men at networking events, but I just see these men as small minded morons who are just worried at what a women might have to offer…as it could be much better than what they have, oooooo now that’s a scary thought :p

    At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter whether you are man, women or beast, if you have a dream just go for it…and to all the men out there who are still living in the age of the dinosaurs, I think it is time to get over yourself and start moving with the times or you may find yourself being left behind.

  • John Hu, 04 April 2010

    Sarah Parmenter! She’s Too beautiful!

  • graphiste shane, 04 April 2010

    Very good article, I will stress this blog regularly because there are a quality content. I wish the same time take the opportunity to publish our video Our graphic design studio

  • Mike, 04 April 2010

    Kim Komodo faces the same sexism, to be sure.

  • penelope, 05 April 2010

    A vast majority of the people who work in the web industry are coders, who also tend to be the stereotypical nerd with poor social skills. A woman is an exotic alien being that is terrifying to try to speak to. I’ve attended so many events where I would say hello and the man would glance at my chest and then swallow, shift from foot to foot, look panicked and walk away. Designer men tend to be of the ad agency type, always on the make, playahs. It’s a sick sick world.

  • Ellie, 06 April 2010

    People should not be surprised. I think that there are going to be jerks everywhere in society; in every industry, there will be some idiot that doesn’t like men or women or whatever. I even worked at one company (for 2 long weeks) where I was the only “chick” out of a design group of 6. Clearly this was too much for most of them to handle, a female! They were all “hip” guys and clearly out of the closet at work (!), even though they had wives at home. Interesting. One guy was cool with me.. but the rest were rude, even when I was nice and *always* professional. Maybe they just don’t like women, or me, I don’t know, who cares! So I left.. to work with people I like, men and women. Life is too short to be around weirdos. Cheers!

  • Laura, 07 April 2010

    Great post, thanks for writing it!!

  • div, 07 April 2010

    I am always proud being a woman in this beautiful world. I have seen many women working in this IT field. They are excellent in delivering the projects and doing the work in time.

    This article is truly inspirational… Thanks for sharing…

  • Roksan, 08 April 2010

    Being a rather feminine blond haired petite woman with a penchant for shoes, the blond jokes have been coming in my entire life. However, I don’t think the problem here is just men.

    Sometimes you have to work a bit harder, but you know what I think slows us down really? Other women.

    Growing up, I was always slightly wacky, what with my love of pharmacology, tons of piercings and tattoos and slightly sick sense of humor. I was also always one of the guys. But the other say, 80% of girls in my school? They conformed to one another, the aim was to be pretty and liked, and conform to the set standard that the goal is to be just like one another.

    They perpetuate the stereotype themselves.

    Now, those are kids. But as we’ve grown up, a good portion of those women have stuck to those roles. They’ve gone out and gotten jobs, obviously, but they’ve carried with them their values that being ditzy is cute, that looking pretty is paramount to getting a man.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m as concerned with my appearance as any of these women, but I believe my intelligence is my biggest attribute. All my friends have always been male, I have fought to have things exactly the way I wanted them – I work as a graphics designer, web designer, and web developer – Having taught myself HTML, Python and Javascript at the age of 12. Quiet frankly, the men who make comments at me, are the ones that don’t know me, and are the ones judging my APPEARANCE! Because that’s the first thing they see, which is fine! If I didn’t have the opportunity to show them different, what else can they go on? Hell, if I see a man in fishnet tights, my first reaction is probably going to be a raised eyebrow, so why not the other way round.

    I think an important step would be to start with children, teach girls that teasing other girls about being too smart, too different, etc, until they all become clones, is detrimental to all females and carries through to adulthood.

  • Mark, 09 April 2010

    Well Nice Article, Web is not some industry just for men, but i don’t understand why women blame men and try to portrait as morons, that’s sad to hear….

  • Alice Dagley, 09 April 2010

    Rasmus Lerdorf, Alan Cox, Kenneth Eugene Iverson, Walter Bright, John Backus, James Gosling, Paul Graham, Thomas Eugene Kurtz, Alan Curtis Kay, Rob Pike, Seymour Papert, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, Guido van Rossum, Bjarne Stroustrup, Larry Wall, Anders Hejlsberg, Konrad Zuse…

    Do you have something to add, girls? So write your plane articles about your important place in IT, while real guys develop programming languages and software.

    • Nicole Foster, 10 April 2010

      I think inspirationbit just burned you on that one Alice. Without Ada, no programming language would exist for the “real guys” to develop.

    • JoeAverage, 07 June 2010

      Pamela Jones of Groklaw ensures almost single-handedly that Linux/UNIX survived Microsoft’s legal foxes and vultures, and so you still get software for free.

      Next question, please.

  • cleawalford, 16 April 2010

    very nice article. hope that there will be more women in web design soon.

  • Mary, 20 April 2010

    I’ve just bookmarked this posting in Faves, thanks.

  • JoeAverage, 07 June 2010

    Without women there would be no men :-)

    That apart, if there is one single metric of the civility of any given culture or society or large (or small) group of humans, it is how they treat their women.

    And so we see that the past two millenia have been brutal – and largely the medieval times coincided with witch hunts and other forms of oppression of women.

    While cultures before that worshipped the female form in many ways.

    My request to women in IT is to ignore alpha-males who have all other organs except a brain and a heart.
    Concentrate on what the grown-ups, the men with responsibilities have to say in general (not about their spouse, that is another story :-) )

    Women are great at empathy – understanding the position of the other person. Understand then, that alpha males do not have the understanding or patience to think beyond immediate present. They don’t think how society should work or where things are going. They just want to show the size of their egos.
    They are kids with grown up bodies. The internet allows them to talk crap. But then the internet also records their opinions.

    In time, they will all grow up and will repent privately, but the male ego will never allow them to admit it. Manufacturing defect.

    To say it in first person, please try to understand, we cannot admit we are wrong sometimes.
    If you are proven to be good, well, itautomatically means that we are worse than you, is it not?
    Please, our egos will be crushed! :-)

    We simply cannot take anyone calling us inferior.
    If you become better, we will lose our monopoly on superiority. Then you can beat us up and other bad things!!

    :D :D

    So you see, it is important to ignore these kids.
    Pamela Jones of Groklaw is fantastic in this regard. If you write anything stupid on Groklaw, the comment is deleted right away, with a personal message fro her saying that this is unacceptabel language.

    That is one example you might want to follow, but that’s your choice. Big men with great clout shudder at the mention of PJ’s name. Mighty Microsoft and dirty SCO are humbled by this one lady, almost single-handedly.

    And there are many ladies with more guts than these alpha male monkeys typing crap here. See TED Talks – a number of courageous women reporters have done what most men would never take up.

    Just one request along with this:
    When you become successful, kindly take care that you do not become snobs. Money spoils people, men and women alike.

    At that time, do not decide to act high-and-mighty when you get on the other side of the power balance.
    But this is for when you become successful.

    Mothers, sisters and daughters of the world, unite! :-)

  • Siddharth, 14 August 2010

    thats cool :)

  • Meenal, 28 September 2010

    Hey Gr8 stuff … i m proud to be in this industry & having lots of fun …

  • Asenovgrad, 10 October 2010

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  • Ellie, 03 January 2011

    I’ve experienced some of this, but it was never that bad for me. People doubt me and question my work. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. Thank you for writing this.

  • MIKE JONES, 19 February 2011

    I THINK WE ALL SHOULD OUTSOURCE MORE!

  • Leao, 13 April 2011

    Thanks for the article.

    I want to suggest another great female web designer. She is called Claire from Bristol, England. She even has the domain http://www.femalewebdesigner.com

    Cheers,
    Leao

  • Sitebase, 19 May 2011

    Cool to see some attention going to the girls in our industry. Great article!

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