That's it. In a nutshell. Having an all-women release team for one of the largest projects on the Internet should have happened ages ago. While I'm disappointed it took this long, I'm glad we're finally there.
Whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not, men are overly represented in technology. We've built a world where men are given every opportunity and afforded the benefit of the doubt when it comes to technology. When a man introduces himself as a developer, he gets knowing nods of agreement or questions about his tech stack. When a woman introduces herself the same way ...
#womenintech true story.— Novall Swift (@NovallSwift) August 17, 2020
A colleague invited me to a party.
One guy intro'd himself and asked me what I do.
Me: I'm a developer.
Him: Uh 'developer' can mean a lot of things. What do you *actually* do?
My colleague had to back me up and I explain that I do program at work.
Frankly, the double standard in our community is disgusting.
I've been involved off and on with WordPress for almost my entire professional career as a developer. I've seen layouts come and go, ridden out the storm of several controversies, and contributed in terms of code, documentation, consulting, and speaking at WordCamps. It's a vibrant community and, while I don't always see eye-to-eye with everything the community does, it's one I'm proud to be a part of.
Most communities claim their leadership structures are meritocracies. The leaders are the ones with the most contributions (either in terms of volume or impact). The loudest voices are those of the largest contributors. The best work always floats to the top. We explain how a meritocracy works to newcomers with the expectation that it's unbiased, truly merit-based, and completely fair.
This is not true.
Again, men are afforded the benefit of the doubt in tech. If a man makes a poor suggestion or contribution, we[ref]By "we" I mean the community. And also myself as I've been guilty of these mistakes more times than I can count.[/ref] take the time to communicate or help him understand why. If a woman makes an otherwise solid suggestion, but challenges our understanding or roadmap, we go into attack mode.
Don't believe me? Take 5 minutes to look at Twitter or Reddit.[ref]Actually, no. Don't do that. It's a toxic cesspool of misogyny. You have better things to do with your time.[/ref] Or just read the commentary on posts highlighting the WordPress 5.6 team. Our meritocracies are broken.[ref]Two years ago, I was invited to speak again at ZendCon. It was exciting as I see conferences - particularly larger ones sponsored by organizations like Zend - as being among the pinnacles of achievement in open source. You get to speak based on your contributions and proven experience. It's rewarding and helps stave off imposter syndrome. Except ... this time I couldn't do it. The speakers list for ZendCon was almost entirely male.[/ref]
If we want to build a truly open, democratized community we must focus on amplifying the voices and the impact of those who have traditionally been left in the margins. The women on the WordPress 5.6 release team are amazing contributors in their own right and I have no doubt the project is safe in their hands - because it's already been in their hands for a long time.
I admit that I haven't contributed to WordPress core in a while. But right now I'm excited and happy to dive back in. This change shows the project is truly living up to its motto to democratize publishing.
I wish the best of luck to the entire team! This is an exciting release to see and I'm thrilled to watch where you take things.