April 12th, 2012

planet

Etsy's hacker grants for women are about everybody

This week Etsy announced that it would be awarding grants for women to attend a summer Hacker School, in an announcement that's very supportive in all the right ways of women in technology: http://www.etsy.com/blog/news/2012/etsy-hacker-grants-supporting-women-in-technology/

The article has the normal astoundingly off-balance ratio numbers listed to support their initiative, and the comments have the normal mix of "Yay this is great for women!" and "why do women deserve all this special treatment"... we're used to it.

What I wanted to say (besides go Etsy) is that their move is about more than helping women. It's just good business sense. And that's what everybody misses in these conversations on how technology can be more gender-balanced.

I started up my etsy contest project after playing with the Etsy API for several weeks, and the one thing I noticed was just how underused that API is. I'm used to the worlds of Twitter, Livejournal, Google maps, etc. There are gobs of examples all over the web of how to get into the API, third-party tutorials, widgets by people who've pre-thought out how to do all kinds of things for you. When it came to the Etsy API, there was an underused google list for help, some commercial sites obviously using it for their own gain, and... that's it! Where are the hackers? Where are the thousands of interested shop owners, writing their own keyword analysis tools?

Sadly, I'm afraid that the shop owners are women and the coders are men. So while Etsy has a huge community and should benefit from their API, it's underused because millions of women just wait for men to psychically understand what technological add-ons Etsy needs.

Is that the way the world should work?

I don't know why there are so many more women knitting mug cozies than men, I don't know what it is about me that makes me like sewing little zipper pouches. All I know is that it's sad that female-dominated fields have to be technology poor.

And THAT's why Etsy is doing such a great forward-thinking thing, not just for us, for them!

Stop thinking about whether this is good for women or bad for men... it's about the world. It's about something bigger than the individual women getting the grants.

It's about MORE MUG COZIES, dammit!