As the title says, this is a short comment on sexism in the web industry, but it also contains a response to a specific point made in the recent .net article: call for greater diversity in web industry.
Before I go any further, however, I am not in any way saying that sexism towards women doesn’t exist in the web industry. I also fully accept that as a male I am probably not aware of how widespread it is and that there are things that I may not perceive as sexism which others might do.
For me, the gender of a person in question has nothing whatsoever to do with their intelligence, value, or ability to do any job.
What I did have issue with however, was what I saw as the implied notion that a woman would be better at doing the job of HTML5 editor simply because of her sex.
Isn’t that just as bad as saying that a man would be better at the task at hand simply because he is a man? Such a comment would, quite correctly, cause uproar. Granted the implication probably wasn’t intended, but I think that it was this perceived attitude that started the debate.
Surely the important point is that the correct person should be chosen for such roles as this purely on ability and knowledge alone? The gender of the person in question simply shouldn’t be a deciding factor in such an appointment.
I don’t agree with Shelley Power’s suggestion that people would consider it “painful” to have a woman in an editorial position. Ok some might, but I would very much hope that they are in the minority.
I was shocked to read what Shelley had to say in the article linked to above on the behaviour of some members of the W3C and the HTML WG towards her and other women, and think that it’s absolutely appalling that people are behaving this way. Part of me thinks “name and shame”, but I’m not sure what good that would do.
The article is correct, however in saying that more needs to be done to erradicate such behaviour and ways of thinking, but I don’t think that giving the HTML5 editor role to a woman simply because of her gender is going to help.
The question is what can be done to erradicate such behaviour? I’m afraid I have no answer to that, but would be very interested to hear what others have to say.