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Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day!

Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day. In this post, I’ll first explain the importance of International Women’s Day. After that, I’d like to invite you all to celebrate International Women’s Day with us. Share your story about a WordPress woman who inspired you. You can leave your story in the comments or share  it on social #awesomeWPwomen.

Did you know we launched the Yoast Diversity Fund to increase the diversity of speakers at conferences? >>

We’ve come a long way!

When my grandmother was born, in 1917, women weren’t allowed to vote in the Netherlands. When my mother was born in 1952, married women weren’t allowed to work. But when I was born in 1981, I had all the same rights and opportunities my older brother had. Within three generations, the legal position of women in the Netherlands had changed tremendously. This was the work of lots of powerful feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Wilhelmina Drucker and many many others. That’s why today, we should celebrate the progress of women’s rights we’ve made so far!

But still… A long way to go

Although a lot has improved for many women across the world, inequality between gender remains. Women still face sexual violence and gender discrimination. We’ve come a long way, but at the same time, we still have a long way to go. It remains important to strive for total equality. The best results will be achieved when the best, most qualified people are hired for the most important positions, regardless of their gender. Intelligence, perseverance, discipline, and capabilities instead of gender should decide who gets that one important job.

Women in tech

Gender inequality is especially persistent in the tech community. If you Google ‘Women in Tech statistics’ you’ll not find much to celebrate. Women are really, really underrepresented in the tech sector, especially in executive functions and management roles. They earn less, face sexual harassment and quit much more often. 

What about WordPress?

The WordPress community is also a tech community. Nevertheless, it feels really open, really friendly towards women. At least that’s my experience. There are much more women at WordCamps than at other tech conferences. At WordCamps, at least 25% of the visitors are female. That’s a lot, compared to other tech conferences (yes, I know that’s sad). Some WordCamps even get a 50/50 rate for male and female speakers at their event. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement, also in the WordPress community.

We need powerful role models

Solving the problem of gender inequality is not going to happen overnight. The causes for it lie within societal and cultural factors that are really hard to change. What we CAN do is to raise awareness of the inequality and the necessity to change it. At the same time, we should celebrate all of the successful women out there. We need powerful role models. We need to know and see women we can look up to.

A few weeks ago, my 8-year old daughter came home from her first lessons in coding. I asked her what she liked best. She started telling me about CSS and about what Irene – one of our developers at Yoast who was teaching the course – told her about it. And, that she wanted to learn to write code and be a developer just like Irene. For her, Irene was a role model. Somebody she could identify with. My daughter said: ‘I like Irene best, of course, because she is a girl. And because we have the same hair.’ 

Inspiring role models are always people we can identify with. Gender is a really important aspect of identifying. Let’s give our daughters those inspiring role models. Let’s give those female developers, female CEO’s and female presidents a big stage. That’s why international women’s day is important. That’s why it’s important to give a stage to as many women as possible on those tech conferences, on WordCamps. And that’s why I want a round of applause for some of the women from the WordPress community that serve as role models and inspirations (at least for me).

A big hooray for some of my big inspirations:

I am a very big fan of Julliette Reinders Folmer, who’s a consultant, developer, public speaker, a major contributor to WordPress and basically an all-round superhero. Thank you Julliette, for your leading role in the WordPress community and for being such an inspiration for me. You inspired and helped me to take the stage (on WordCamps) myself.

And, my daughter isn’t the only one who is very impressed by Yoast’s Irene Strikkers. Irene is a big inspiration for me too. Irene came to work at Yoast only two years ago and did not know how to write code. What she learned within those two years is so amazing. And I am totally sure she’s going to do many more amazing things in the years to come. Irene, you are an awesome WP woman!

Within the WordPress Community, we have so many more women to look up to. For example: Heather Brunner, Helen Hou-Sandi, Tammie Lister, Heather Burns, Rian Rietveld and Mika Epstein. But there are many, so many more. Which WordPress woman was an inspiration to you? And why? Please share your story in the comments or on social #awesomeWPwomen. Let’s give those awesome WP women that stage today!

My all-time biggest inspiration was born 8 years ago. My daughter Wende. She’s the brightest, most talented, most beautiful and funniest girl alive. She doesn’t understand gender inequality. And I don’t want her to ever understand.

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