Diversity in agile

I’m actively involved in a group called Diversity in Agile.

When we announced our first release, focussing on women we got a lot of strong reactions, both negative and positive.

Someone (Sorry I forgot where I read it, tell me who you are and I link back) said an interesting thing:

He said when my daughter would get an award for doing a math exercise correct, were all the boys in her class had the same result, I would be upset.

When I read it, I felt like, yes me too.  It stayed in my head.


When I was home last night, putting my daughter to bed, I realized why.

I have two boys 7 and 5 and a 2,5 year old daughter. Ever since she was a baby, my daughter loved pink. A real girl. We saw the difference right from the start. Geike will come to me every day to show her dress and ask me ‘beautifull?’ or ‘sexy?’.

I keep telling her, I find her beautiful no matter what clothes she wears. Last night she did something cleaver with a book and I told her she was smart. She did not want to hear it.

What I notice is that this little 2,5 year old, keeps asking for confirmation on how she looks, but does not like it when I give her similar confirmation on her intellect.

All that said, Geike is the most geeky of all three. She will play with phone’s, computers everything she can get her hands on.


That experience made me link 2 things:

– The report that was published yesterday: Why so few women?

– And the In Search of meaning video I posted earlier.

In the research they say that women/girls are not that much encouraged (as boys) for their math skills, but when they are encouraged, you see much higher percentage of women doing science. In the video Victor Frankl shows that you have to aim for a higher target to get where you want to be.

If I combine these two I would say, yes you need to give girls some kind of awards for doing something at the same level of boys.

Before everyone jumps all over me, I agree this sounds wrong to me.

I does show that we should be very careful at how we say things to women and girls from a very early age. I do this with my children and it is damn hard.

(It is also a reason why I will not make a comment about a new look of colleagues, even though I know some like that.)

Back to the diversity in agile project. When we prepared our first project, we had lot’s of discussion internally because we did not want to make it an award.

The first release we are executing now: interview 12 women and show these video’s at agile 2010. (We will use other media also)

Some of the other wilder idea’s are create some visual network of people (not just women) to see how is connecting to who, just an idea not yet clear how to do this, give us some iterations to figure this out.
I admit. We made some crucial mistakes when this was announced. I did not see them before. (I like to take action and adapt based on the feedback.)

We used the word nomination. It looks like most people link nomination with an award. I can see that. We changed that.

We call part of  the website YourTeamNeedsWomen. That gives the impression to some people that it is against men. I can see why.


When I take a few steps back, I see also something very funny.

– Last year, there was a whole war going on on Twitter, when the PaskAward (you can find the FAQ around the Pask Award here.) was given. Reason: again no women that received the award. The reaction from the jury was: we did not receive any candidates that did something that deserved the award.(That is what I recall, sorry if I misquote this.) I wanted to assume that was true and at the same time it was strange that for 5 years in a row, no woman did receive the award.

– A lot (all ?) of the strong reactions agains “Diversity in Agile” I see, is that people say you can’t create an award just for women.
==> See a similarity in these discussions?

We agile community we don’t like awarding people for what they do.

I know that the PaskAward committee is thinking about stopping it.

As I commented on that blog, I don’t think they should. I do think they should listen to some of the critiques they get. I will add some more energy here: Damn it, don’t give up , that is too easy.

All of this reminds me about one thing what I like about the agile community but what I see us failing in all so often.
Respect for people. This is not in words part of the agile manifesto, but I think most people would agree with me, it is there in spirit.

The principle that comes closest:

Build projects around motivated individuals. 
Give them the environment and support they need, 
and trust them to get the job done.

Me: I believe in this principle. And it might be a reason why I don’t send enough positive vibes to agile community projects I like, and I do send things I don’t like. (I want to send more positive energy, but I know I failed at that.)


I know that for the Diversity in Agile project we do want more people helping out and finding the right way to support diversity.

So if you have idea’s please join the discussions on the google group.

If you don’t have the time and energy, we still would love to hear your idea’s, but think about this principle and send us a perfection game and then let us decide what to do with it.