Career tips for code wranglers. This isn't about coding for a living. It's about living.
Rather than whine about the low numbers of women in technology, I'll turn the spotlight on several geeky women — in programming, design, or other techie circles — whom you might like to discover.
I try to ignore gender in choosing the people to admire, really I do. But sometimes — well, it gets to me.
It all started when someone pointed me to this very good list, 64 high-ranked blogs for developers. I have no objection to any of the blogs on the list (ScottGu is very cool, I love Joel on Software, etc.). But from a cursory examination (I didn't follow every link, and some names don't make gender obvious) it seems like only a couple of these are by women. And that just seems wrong.
So I decided to compile a list for developers, designers, and other techies of blogs-worth-reading whose authors just-so-happen-to-be (mostly) women. I'm a strong believer in women being more visible; we tend to fade into the background, too much, and to apologize for our achievements. (That's one reason why women earn less than men; I'll get into that discussion another time.) Enumerating women-to-admire felt like a good way to highlight smart people who have wisdom to share. Fortunately, lots of smarter-than-me people were kind enough to make suggestions, for which I'm very grateful. (This doesn't count mailing lists, like Ubuntu women or the Wise Women discussion lists; just blogs.)
Let me start with a few "planet" blogs. Usually these blog aggregation sites are categorized by technology or career interest (like Planet Plone), but a few focus on technical women. Among them is the Women in Open Source planet. DevChix is another, though it isn't updated often.
One of the reasons I'm glad I got so much input from other people was that it let me, too, discover new blogs, such as Coding Geekette from Sarah Dutkiewicz, "a self-admitted programming language addict." She's my kind of people! I already knew and followed some blogs, such as Anna Martelli Ravenscroft, a cherished friend who also happens to be a goddess of Python; related to the underlying "women in IT" theme here, among her latest posts is one that I particularly admire, Why women don't talk enough, which I hope will encourage you (or women you know) to submit proposals to speak at tech conferences.
Developers whose interests also extend to site design (and really, shouldn't you be thinking about it more often?) should certainly see what Kishau Rogers has to say. As anyone who's chuckled along with The 7 signs your UI was created by a programmer knows, there's a vast difference between someone who thinks about user experience and someone who thinks about code. (For one thing, the people in the former category dress better.)
For those who care about quality assurance (and if you don't, please don't tell me!), see Elisabeth Hendrickson’s Thoughts on Testing, Agile, and Agile Testing. She doesn't post very often, but it's always worth reading. Another Agile/QA blog is Abby Fitchner's The Hacker Chick, which is beautifully written, insightful, and (maybe this shouldn't count, but it does) pretty.
Have more academic interests? Alex McFerron's blog focuses on the Theory of Computer Science, especially math-related topics.
Lotus Notes developers (I do have a fond spot in my heart for Notes) would be well advised to stop by the Notes Design Blog, from Mary Beth Raven, and Marie Scott's CrashTestChix; Marie also gets an extra nod from me for a cool name. (Why is it that so few women have cool blog names?!)
If you use VB.NET, you probably want to take a look at Beth Massi's blog. As the person who suggested her site explained, "No one on my team had ever used VB before it was required for a project, and once we got the basics and started googling for more interesting bits, Beth's blog often turned up in the top hits and had good points."
Developers who pay attention to Microsoft technologies may want to visit Heather Solomon's blog for her advice on all things SharePoint — though she doesn't post very often. For WPF and Silverlight information (especially on data binding, controls, and styles), absolutely check out Bea Stollnitz's blog. And definitely visit Kate Gregory's blog, a woman I've admired ever since we met for a Women in IT panel at the Microsoft PDC a few years ago. I'm impressed by Kate's understanding of .NET technologies and her wry observations about the computer consulting life. Another .NET woman I know initially from the Microsoft "women in tech" luncheons is Kathleen Dollard's Leaning Into Windows; I wish I had more opportunity to hang out with Kathleen, because she always says things that make my ears perk up.
And I couldn't possibly leave off my list Julie Lerman's Don't Be Iffy in which she highlights everything from .NET programming tips-and-tricks to developer jobs in Vermont. Julie is a personal friend, and the individual I think of when I envision "warm, caring person who just happens to be brilliant technically." (Well, no, I'm not dispassionate about her. I would drive several hours out of my way to have lunch with Julie.)
I also wish that Sarah Mei posted more often to her Ruby on Rails and programming blog. Even her short items are good thought fodder. Ditto for the usually-but-not-always techie Umit Yalcinalp's blog; she's a standards architect of many WS-*, Java, and XML specs (and a fashionista whose taste in jewelry I like).
You don't have to be aligned with any particular technology to appreciate Sarah Allen’s reflections on internet software and other topics at the evolving ultrasaurus. Allen, an active contributor to OpenLaszlo, an open source, XML-native foundation for building rich client applications, also had a great link to Hacker Love Songs — how cool is that?
To my mild surprise, I don't have many women on this list who blog about Java topics (and this is, after all, JavaWorld.com). That wasn't intentional; it just worked out that way. I'm not sure whether the lack is a reflection of the Java community or, more likely, just happenstance given the cross-section of people who responded to my request for help. I'm sure that others would appreciate it if you added additional (Java or not) great blogs (that just so happen to be by women) in the comments.