Category Archives: Rant

news aggregations and some other stuff from getting up on soap boxes, politics, feminism and other f words foobar!

genderin code - female markup

Code is gender & gender is coded

I recently invited to teach a free  coding for women workshop in Sydney (Australia) as part of a festival. Im interested in teaching gender specific classes , I’m a vocal campaigner for women in all stem fields but  Im also aware of the barriers to entry  my gender provides.

    • I have so many years of experience teaching html I can do it with relatively low fuss.
    • I complain a lot about the lack of women in my industry and how isolated they are, I felt it was time for me to step up and do something about it. Code is gendered because those who use it cant step outside there own programming to see how gender affects all humans.
    • I have had some years of teaching tec full time and felt I could do with some practice and run some experiments in learning i have years of experience teaching  code but have not done many gender specific coding workshops.


The workshops were fun, my experiments worked well and  clearly I got some women coding both html and css and enjoying it.  however wanted to describe some random male responses that happened on the day because they remind me why I loathe my industry or some of the humans in it at times. I’ll just state that I pass as female , 40 something artsy & geeky.

Dude 1

attributes  = “beard , dark hair, 30 something or younger ” ; attitude = “I know everything”  ;

Pre workshop conversation “yeah I’m teaching a workshop on coding for women ”
gentle conversation  about code ensues  he codes, of course so we establish the what do you know pecking order bs.. where I establish that yes actually I’m pretty well over qualified to teach a free one and a half hour course  and yes of course  I already know that markup isn’t a “proper” coding  language but  that I’ve selected it as a good place to start for learners.  (ho hum…  )s..

dude1 :so what strategy  are you using  to specifically gender teaching code women ? (cause i’m interested ) 
by this stage I’ve already pegged him as somewhat passive aggressive and  yet another  male whoo is  younger than me that thinks he knows better  so rather than engaging in what would be a huge can of worms I toss him a throwaway line.

thisunit : I brought cupcakes.. they are red velvet

dude1 : mutters something about me bringing all the stereotypes …..

I shrug  I’m nether willing to be challenged on my coding qualifications nor my ability to teach other females.  I offer the obvious

thisunit : What can say ? I’m cisgendered female……. I guess its my privilege…. can’t win….

Conversation ends at this point  he has no idea of the existential angst and process I’ve gone through to be at this point he’s part of the problem. He’s not actually interested in what barriers may prevent women from coding  he’s looking for easy answers. I have a different understanding of how my gender is coded to him for me its quite complicated. Gender is performed but its also a construct programmed into me that I fight with. the construct of my gender tells me daily that other people (probably men) are better at everything than I am. The construct of my gender is like acid to self esteem and it is constant  and supported by real life experience.



attributes  = “blonde ,  20 something ” ; attitude = “Im a real programmer”  ;
dude 2 just sits in on the class – smirks a lot  – takes over a female students learning as his personal project teaching her something entirely different.  I’m possibly supposed to thank him for his mansplaining  I saw him showing her sass which is probably not where I’d start a beginner.. but hey what would I know its only my workshop …
I wonder if other women would be that rude..



attributes  = “dark hair , short beard,  larger build ” ; attitude = “I’m watching you to see if your good enough”  ;

Dude3 is teaching the next workshop on  internet privacy  leans over my shoulder looking at the html I have scribbled on post it notes he says :

Dude3: “oh html 5,  i’m just checking to see if you’ve kept the  presentation seperate from the structure you know proper css and stuff…”
I grumble a  reply to him and pack up my notes clearing away my workshop …now your going to say #notallmen  in code are dicks and sure I’ve met and worked with some male gendered humans who are for the most part not gender biased at all.  However these three responses in less than 3 hours remind me my industry has a lot to learn to be even vaguely appealing to any  female gendered person who is sane..

While code may be not gender biased the people who do it still are.  Its enough to battle the imposter syndrome and come out as a female who codes let alone a queer one. Without being challenged in every other sentence by male programmers who may have a very poor perception of how gender and privilege work in there favour. Not to mention the it professionals who don’t bother to ask what your qualifications are but assume they know better anyhow . It’s even more annoying when they are children and you were probably producing websites when they were potty training.  It’s really no wonder the women not only don’t  seek stem jobs but also leave them as they grow tired of the constant bs and weirdness.  In other industries and if your male  age and experience  count for something.

Anyhow I really enjoyed teaching  the loverly women and some guys who came to the workshop. Hopefully I’ve made it easy for them to play with some code even if it’s  “only mark up”and they are only women.. and I’m only playing

Prison Islands of Oceana

Prison Islands of Oceania – 2015

“History never repeats”, but don’t you think its odd that Australia once a prison Island for colonial England has a policy of imprisoning immigrants and refuges on a smaller island just outside its own borders?
Prison Islands of Oceania
Its commonly thought that victims of sexual abuse may follow there parents behavior and abuse others in a similar fashion, I question whether this is Australia’s period of awkward adulthood there is a growing sense of ugly patriotism which unfortunately can only be seen as racist codswallop. It’s unsurprising given our colonial history that we think that imprisoning struggling   people on islands is acceptable but is it.. really ?

Its this country’s policy to imprison “illegal emigrants” or refugees on a small island that is  technically outside of the arbitrary border we imagine exists somewhere outside of our island home. It is also the governments policy  to not speak about the  tactics used to enforce police and  govern all of the above infrastructure under the  general banner of  “operational matters” . So much for transparency and democracy right?  Its a perfect example of how not to do open government.

But wait it gets worse there have been allegations of child abuse in  prison facility’s..( yes  australians put  refugee children in prison ) and those in power responded by:
a) Abusing the woman put in charge of investigating the prisons and;

b) threatening to make it illegal to report child abuse in these facility’s

all of the above have driven me to make and open source the above map, available here as a pdf – feel free to reuse or modify  Map of prison islands.

Just so you know whats happening down this end of the planet, its really not pretty ,it must change. consider this a message in a bottle.

*please help *

Digital literacy in Australia – walking with dinosaurs

digital dinasaur stomping on australiaCatherine Livingstone president  of the Business Council of Australia  gave a lovely speech about the need for digital literacy and stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) in this country and for the most part shes right. Go see her full address if you haven’t already .

However for me this is so little so late, lets have a good look at  digital literacy in Australia  with a hard and logical eye.  Our government uses the words “disruptive technology ” not to garner some street cred with the excitement of disruption and revolution but its spoken with a tone of fear loathing and blame.

Both politicians and business folks love to use theses catch phases but the sad truth is they really don’t understand them. One look at both government policy on the NBN, Metadata retention and the desire to sign the TTP (trans pacific protocol) clearly demonstrate the average politicians appalling digital literacy- honestly its like walking with dinosaurs.

Most of the major businesses in Australia including our local Government are addicted to  Microsoft office and have no clue what the words  “open source ” mean let alone open data.

The culture of geek

when faced with government forms asking about how many languages I speak I’m always tempted to write HTML, CSS & Javascript form asking about langauge.

Being multilingual changes the way your brain functions. Speaking any kind of code language fluently  means grappling in some sense with the core illusions of the digital world. Everything online  is made by code either human generated or machine generated. Noting is “real”  everything is created and in that act of creation you the coder have both responsibility and choices.

But its not just learning to code its not just programmatic thinking that’s beneficial in this space.  From the first moment you type  hello world into notepad you embark on a journey which will require you to learn about file management, semantic naming conventions, accessibility and file extensions.  Granted none of theses things are  new or ground breaking, but they are the fundamentals of digital literacy.


“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” 

This fundamental part of digital literacy is so often overlooked in the smallest of ways, We seem to give it lip service but no take it to heart.
For instance its quite common for recruiters and  job placement places to ask for a resume or Curriculum Vitea –  The problem is  most of them will actually ask for it as a Microsoft word document.  Microsoft word is a propriety format that belongs to a specific company that not everyone has access to, it would be better to ask for a .rtf (rich text format or plain text file) but they don’t  they ask for a brand name product because their digital literacy is so low they don’t know any better.  There is politics in your file format people and your doing it wrong !

ALT text

the funny thing about the internet is most sighted people assume its a visual medium. This assumption is not only completely wrong  its downright dangerous.  Not only are there screen readers that read out webpages to the visually impaired but some people are colourblind.  So people who use markup understand you have to deliver information in a variety of formats . Pictures may make many people happy but they don’t work for everyone. Video’s need captioning  and so many other issues.  The web is a big place and not everything works for every-person so we ask – “what is your fallback position ?  ” .
educate yourself about digital  accessibility:

The funny thing is  most machines cant see pictures either so just improving your accessibility will improve many other things like getting Google to see your content.

Open source

You may also start to think about the world in radically different ways, open source is not just a buzz word, a trend that will go away or become unfashionable, like a hipster beard.

Open source is about thinking collectively about sharing your code in the hope someone smarter than you can improve it or use it. This is a fundamental change from the traditional way of thinking about intellectual property and its one that Australian governments and businesses really struggle with yet its fundamental to digital literacy.
Its also about transparency  – in a digital world we know that sooner or later someone will leak the truth. It’s the world wide web and attempting to take the world out of it is pretty stupid.  Information is like water  let it flow.

learn about open Source culture

learn some code –>

learn it online – don’t be afraid it wont bite.. you will break things you will fail magnificently but you will learn, It may take some time so be patient with yourself It is never to late to start.


Buy a digital dinosaur sticker or a t-shirt

imagry representing the concept of programmer

Australian tech sexism – the job interveiw

*gets up on soap box*
Are women under represented in tech.. lets play a little game in google to see
*apologizes  feels shes an imposter, feels she has no right to speak mumbles incoherently*
I’m trying to connect the dots but they are all to far and wide, seemingly random I can’t see how the nodes interrelate and therefore can not make a coherent or logical argument .

I started to write about open source sexism,  sexism in tech /it industry – And realized I cant speak for the masses  I can only vent my own frustrations.  I am currently what we call in the industry  a  “freelancer”  that is  I have no permanent job, to some degree this suits me down to a tee. I’m to much of a psychopathic bitch to ” work in a team”.  I like working my own hours  but  I’ve been  applying for   “real jobs”  lately and there are a few things that really bother me.

The look
So for guys its perfectly appropriate to wear a suit to a job interview easy expected  for women not so much we fall here into some black hole of what is fashion and the expectations of  “power” females  : high heels  tight skirt. Neither of which are necessary to do a decent job of coding .  The expectation is that one will be  above all corporate looking.
for the employer  there expectation of  “hot shot programmer” and my physical reality don’t mesh.
*inevitable failure is imminent*

  • If I don a pin strip suit I may come across like a cross dressing mafia  pimp
  • if I look to slutty then I wont be taken seriously
  • if I look to  unsexy  my femininity will be questioned then I face the clear discrimination of is she a dyke ? of course she is… this reduces the likly hood of any given job offer by about 25 % (min)
  • No matter what I wear  I will not fit the cultural expectation

Reasons : cultural expectation lets have a closer look at that shall we
lets do a visual sampling of the imagery we use to represent programmers
Method : go to google type programmer look at images..
OK , here’s my result :
imagry representing the concept of programmerso some basic math ?

out of 47 or so images  there are :
3  or 4 which are “gender nuetral” sorta.. (I’ll count stick figures as that to be fair)
7 which have pictures of actual females..
3 of which (*) I’m going to not count cause a the female is not programming shes playing an x box , the female is not programming shes in bed with a guy with a bunch of computers and worse number 1 which is all about how programmers see a girl…
a) assuming all programmers are male.. that is  and the girl is like the sleek code of google unobtainable but beautiful.. (fell free to wretch..)

that leaves us with  4 !  so  4 out of 47 ?  I ‘m 11.75% represented!

We should probably do better than this don’t you think ?


wingnut says – freedom of speech dobb in a blogger

theres nothing inconsistant about free speach and banning  anomoumous bloggers The wingnuts wants you to snitch on your co workers,  in a nutshell if your a public servant of any kind and you are found anonymously blogging ,tweeting facebooking or otherwize “criticizing”  your government you should be sacked.

And we are not meant to consider that an impingement in anyway on freedom of  speech, of course that is fine if your definition of free speech only includes the right to hatespeech  especially of course if its anti Muslim, anti aboriginal or of course gay bashing or lefty, commo bashing a well know Australian pastime which is currently honored by knighthood.

That is to say your freedom of speech is legally protected if you own your own media empire or mining magnate because clearly your already supporting your government with loads of money and positive press.

Regadless of bigotry or financial status  anyone on welfare is  still “fair game”  for all . further proof that you government really understands the nature of the internet .

No mention has been made of potential bonus schemes for dobbing in such “anti government”  anonymous voices however I suggest we go back to the 40’s type system used to track the killing of rabbits.  extra chocolate rations are most defiantly double + good.

Heavy sarcasm included free.


Copyriot .. I wanna riot


more about Emily Pankurst >
Copyright in Australia :

Although I’m all for artists right to make a living I sincerely believe the Australian government is a dinosaur incapable of making laws for this century . Incapable of understanding the nature of the digital world . Scarily ready to give our rights away to the highest bidder. We need to fight this we need a riot.. a copyriot

Unable to do much about it  I thought I’d start my own meme #copyriot  -If you think the laws are prohibitive restrictive and outdated feel free to use the term in your art whether it be writing, song, music or interpretative dance tag it !