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Diversity in Agile series: Women in Agile

I arrived in Orlando today in to attend Agile 2010, a conference put on by the Agile Alliance. One of the first people I ran into was Lisa Crispin, co-author of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams. Crispin was manning a station promoting Women in Agile. Crispin described it as the first in a new “Diversity in Agile Series,” also sponsored by the Agile Alliance, intended to promote more diversity in agile development.

Crispin has been doing a video series on women that work in agile development teams. Traditionally, development teams have been largely dominated by men. The idea behind the project is to raise awareness and aid women in their career choices, in addition to raising interest in the software profession. With any luck, this will bring more women into the software field. I can vouch for the lack of diversity. At a recent Denver Agile User Group meeting I attended, there were about 50 men and only one other woman, besides myself. I went to introduce myself to the woman and found out that she was the wife of the speaker, Mike Cohn! (Who also happens to be an agile guru and is set to deliver a keynote at this conference.)

Crispin’s eyes lit up with enthusiasm as she spoke about the interviews she’d had with women.  She’s excited that more women are recognizing that agile development is a practice that mixes both technical and social skills. Crispin also mentioned the new certification program that Alistair Cockburn, one of the original signers of the Agile Manifesto, along with some other agile enthusiasts had launched. This is an interesting development for anyone looking to further their career in agile.

Apparently, discussions at Agile 2009 of gender imbalance sparked the idea that teams would benefit from more women in agile projects. The project is aimed at finding women who “have been recognized by their teams, peers, organizations or even customers for bringing more describable value to their agile endeavors.” Celebrating these women will serve to recruit and retain more women in the field.

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