Nick Santos
Mar 19, 2016 · 2 min read

I’m curious about how you see these cultural issues getting resolved. There are two problems with the echochambers you mention — first, there are echochambers that won’t hire people outside their bubble, and second are the echochambers that will, but that aren’t inclusive enough environments to make people outside their bubble want to stick around. This latter type is what I hear you saying StackOverflow is— it’s an open community, but it makes most women not want to be in it.

But I also believe in the power that being visible has on changing those perceptions — all of the men in the industry, myself included, need to see women in the industry to change those subtle predispositions that creep in when we don’t see women in the industry. If women feel unwelcome on a platform that is otherwise a great way to subtly show that tech is/can be diverse, then these gender perceptions snowball. There are certainly plenty of other places that women are visible in tech, and are drawing attention, but I worry when I hear about women leaving en masse a site that’s perceived as a centerpiece of the tech community. Maybe part of the answer is changing the perception that it actually represents the tech community, but I really do also think it’s a malleable community and can change and that having women appear in numbers on StackOverflow would be a really great thing for tech — better answers with more diverse perspectives and solutions and the huge benefit of the men in the industry seeing women in the field and young women getting into the industry feeling like it’s a place they belong.

All that said, I’m not the best ambassador for that message and understand that few individuals want to be the first to carry that weight. I abandoned ServerFault for some of the same hostile community reasons you mention — and I don’t have the additional pressures that women in the workforce and in tech in particular frequently have. So I get that suggesting that women not abandon the site is an easy thing to say, but maybe not to ultimately do.

I guess I’m not sure what I’m asking your input on here, except that I’m interested in what you see as a beneficial path forward for communities like SO and the other ways that women can be visible in tech and enjoy it at the same time. I feel like women leaving that community even more would be the worst outcome, but I’m probably also missing large pieces of this. Thanks

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