1. Seeking help seeking female coders

    As you might know, we’ve currently got an open-call for new developers, we’re hiring quite a bit in the next six months.

    Thus far our list of people interested in the job contains no women’s names at all – zip, zero, zilch – despite us having taken soundings on how to get a more diverse sample of applicants.

    I’m really, really not OK with this. I understand the gender imbalance in tech as well as anyone, but I interpret this as ‘mySociety hasn’t reached out well enough’, not ‘blame the women for not applying’.

    So my question to you, the world at large, is this: what can we do right now, or this week anyway, to get some women’s names on this list before we start to vet the CVs?

    Applications are still very definitely open, so anyone – male, female or other – who’d like to apply should see the original blog post for how to go about it.

  2. RIP Angie Martin 1974-2009

    It is with overwhelming sadness that I write to tell our community that Angie Martin, mySociety’s fourth core developer, has died. She was taken from us by the cancer that she had been fighting since soon after we hired her less than two years ago.

    Possessed of an almost unbelievably upbeat personality, Angie brought not only her formidable Perl skills, but her blazing warmth of character to our team. In remission during our yearly retreat in January this year, she combined laughter with a typically tough line of questioning on ideas she thought insufficiently robust. With typical disgregard for cool, her CV noted that she was “known to enjoy wrangling regular expressions on a Sunday Morning”. She didn’t see any contradiction between being a successful woman and a geek, throwing herself wholeheartedly into the Mac-toting, perlmonger ethos. She even brought her husband Tommy with her, who became a significant volunteer.

    Given her habit of plain speaking, it is pointless to pretend that Angie was able to make the contribution to mySociety’s users or codebase that she wanted to. What she achieved in terms of difficult coding during recovery from chemotherapy was incredible, breathtaking – but she wanted to change the world. It now falls to the rest of us, and our supporters, to live up to the expectations she embodied, to continue to push every day, using skills like those that she had to help people with everyday problems. We now have to ask ‘What would Angie do?’, as well as ‘What would Chris do?’. It is a lot to live up to.

    She was a mySociety core developer: I hope that meant as much to her as it meant for me to have her as one of my coders.  Remember and Respect.

    Updated: Angie changed her surname upon getting married, a couple of months ago. I have just read she wanted to be remembered as Angie Martin, and so I have made that change.

    Updated 21 7 2009: Tommy has just told me that those wishing to may memorial donations should send them to Hospice at Home.

  3. Ada Lovelace Day: Angie Ahl

    One of the most striking uses of PledgeBank in recent times was the pledge made by 1700 people to commemorate Ada Lovelace’s birthday by blogging about an inspiring woman in the technology world.

    I have had several possible choices, but I’ve decided on Angie Ahl, mySociety’s 4th and most recent full time developer.

    Angie is mySociety through and through. A born perl hacker, never happier than knee deep in some grungy regular expressions, she’s also gifted with an inate understanding of the possibilities of technology for democratic reform. At interview I asked her what change she’d like to see happen from the government side of our sector, and she replied that she thought the biggest possible win was to publish Bills in parliament in a proper format. You might have heard all this before, thanks to Free Our Bills, but Angie was commenting several months before we ever discussed the idea for the campaign with anyone else. She’d just looked at the world and the obvious problem had jumped out, clear as day.

    Sadly, it’s no secret than Angie’s been seriously ill for some time. Despite this she’s managed things that’d be beyond me in the best of health: I’m only typing into wordpress now because she migrated the whole of this site from our previous system.  She came to our retreat back in January and showed an unerring ability to ask tough questions of the right people, even when tired.

    Angie beat a 100% male field to get the job she has now.  She’s unpretentious, straight talking and as glowingly warm to be near as a roaring log fire.  She’s also getting married within the next few days. Congrats, Angie: Tommy couldn’t have done better.