Folks, the idea that women are disproportionately underrepresented in engineering and software in general, and open source development in particular, should not be new and controversial in 2009 - anyone who cares to look can find such things as the FLOSSpols findings, or any amount of academic literature on the subject. Anyone who cares to take the time to actually talk to the women who are a part of the open source community will have no trouble getting an earful about how challenging it can be to participate.
I don't want to make the mistake of speaking of "the open source community" as some monolithic bloc. People like Audrey Eschright, Aaron Quint, Peter Szinek, and Selena Deckelmann have written about ways to address some of the fundamental problems.
But unfortunately for me, in parallel to the public discussion there have been private ones. I can't reveal details without breaking confidences, but suffice it to say that a significant number of Rails core contributors - with leadership (if that's the right word) from DHH - apparently feel that being unwelcoming and "edgy" is not just acceptable, but laudable. The difference between their opinions and mine is so severe that I cannot in good conscience remain a public spokesman for Rails.
So, effective immediately, I'm resigning my position with the Rails Activists.
I realize that some people will see this as an act of prudery on my part, or a lack of a sense of humor, or some other personal failing. That's OK, I don't mind. Other people (who I have a good deal of respect for) have attempted to convince me that I could do more good by staying involved with the Rails power structure and trying to work from within to change things. At this point, unfortunately, I feel sufficiently outnumbered and unwelcome that that option is no longer open.
This does not mean that I will stop using Rails; on a technical level, it's still a good fit for the projects that I work on. Nor does it mean that I will stop contributing to open source projects. But I'm no longer willing to donate a substantial portion of my free time to this particular project.