An Apology For A Mistake I Never Made.

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"Instead of continuing the tradition of Matt’s post with your own list of women speakers That Will Actually Speak, or just asking me 'so if you can’t speak, do you know anyone else that could?', you decide to attack those of us that don’t or can’t after all the work you’ve done to seek us out." By Jane Lee (Developer, Mobile Colloquy)

Via my ever-crusading friend Faruk, earlier today on Twitter:

We pinged two people off Matt’s list… We got no reply from one, and the other said “I’m not a very good speaker”.

I am one of these women, the one that told John that I didn’t want to speak. (The other? Other things in life take priority, and it wasn’t due to malice.)

John… I’m sorry I have a phobia of public speaking that Toastmasters and my therapist haven’t been able to change. I’m sorry I was put on a list by a well-meaning guy like Matt, without even asking to be on there. I am also sorry I criticized your conference, and that I wasted your worthy time not submitting a topic without being prompted. I’m so very sorry I can’t explain all of this in the 140-character limit on the method of contact you chose to ask me if I wanted to submit a topic for consideration. Right?

Just because I do not like public speaking and that is apparently the only action you deem worthy: I am not a hypocrite. I am not hiding. I should not have to explain myself like I just did. I should not have to suffer being told to shut up about calling out problems, or be called part of the problem just because I will not do one thing. I solve these problems I see in my own way.

I mentor younger coders, I meet up with and support my fellow women geeks, I help organize events like my local NSCoder Night, I teach all kinds of people programming, I try to point out real problems when I see them, and more. I also try to attend as many events and conferences as I can. I’m just sorry I can’t attend any more than I do, as I’m limited to whatever time I have not trying to juggle my existing work and personal life. I bet lots of women feel exactly the same as I do. Lots of people, even.

You, though, are part of the problem now. Instead of continuing the tradition of Matt’s post with your own list of women speakers That Will Actually Speak, or just asking me “so if you can’t speak, do you know anyone else that could?”, you decide to attack those of us that don’t or can’t after all the work you’ve done to seek us out.

And yes, I know you didn’t mean that as a direct attack, but it sure felt like one. Whatever goodwill I felt towards your actions previous to this post feels wiped out now, and I don’t feel like I will be welcome at any of your conferences now. And that was a lot of goodwill. Like me squeeing “omg omg omg omg I can’t believe they’re actually reaching out to women specifically! this is a lot more than I expected from anyone!” while replying to you, and wondering if I should forward on your request to other women in the industry.

I know you meant to write a post that would spur women into action, but there isn’t much positivity to it or cooperation with others to do something, anything. I personally just feel worn out and like I’ve been called a piece of trash over something I despise about myself being the reason for being part of a problem I’ve been fighting in one way or another for half of my life. Please think twice about what you write before you write it in the future.

This post was originally posted at Janeylicious.

Photo credit: Jean Hsu. About the guest blogger: Jane Lee is a software engineer in Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Mac and iOS Cocoa developer. Prior to that, she was a Rails and enterprise Java developer. Jane developed Mobile Colloquy (for iPhone and iPod Touch) and ringthing (Nuvaring® timer for OS X). She is interested in accessibility, internationalization and localization concerns. Check out her portfolio of apps and builds at Janeylicious.com. Follow her on Twitter at @janeylicious.