As far as I know the only WordPress “Female” Meetup that exists is in Berlin and has started only a few months ago. I attended one in July without really thinking about the meaning of the word “Female” in the title. To me it was just another Meetup, like many I have attended this year all over the world.
Proud of my new experience, I innocently shared a photo on my social media just to let my followers know where I was.
The reaction was immediate. Pedro Fonseca, co-organizer of the Porto Meetup could not believe it. “Female only, really?” For him “WordPress Meetups are friendly, inclusive, open door events.”
I have to acknowledge that he was making an interesting point and he got me thinking. Why the needs of a female exclusive Meetup? What if a man would show up? Would we kick him out? Would this be inline with the code of conduct?
So at the end of the Meetup I raised the issue to the organizer, Maja Benke, with my poor German skills “Warum machst du ein Female Meetup?”
Maja is a woman of character. That’s something you can tell just by speaking a few words with her. She confessed that indeed it was a bit of a debate at the beginning. She even questioned herself: Is it really ethical? But she ended up getting the support of the WordPress community team. The reasons why she had the idea of a Female Meetup are because she went to many WordPress and tech events in Berlin and she noticed that 80% of the attendees were men. She was also feeling like women were considered “beginners” and she thinks that this refrained them to come. Finally, she pointed out that some of the women who now have joined the Berlin Meetup group first attended the Female one. Two women in the room agreed and testified! “The Female Meetup got us into the community!”
As a women who attended many Meetups and so in several countries, honestly, I never felt underestimated for being a women. It is true that there are generally more men than women and that they often like to talk about code! But that never really bothered me either. That said, I understand Maja concerns and I support her initiative. After all, with such an exclusive event she actually helps the community to be more inclusive. I don’t see how this can arm and I am sure many women are really grateful for her doing this.
It is worth noting that the WordPress Community Team actually proposed recently “a new Community Conduct Project to update the WordCamp Code of Conduct and expand its scope to become a WordPress Community Code of Conduct (CCoC).”
Everybody is invited to participate. Maybe Pedro and Maja should join the conversation. With their experience organizing Meetups, they’ll probably have a lot to contribute to this project.