The WordPress Foundation Creates a Traveling Scholarship in Memory of Kim Parsell

Kim Parsell With the Docs Team Meetup in Cincinnati 2013
Kim Parsell With the Docs Team Meetup in Cincinnati 2013

Kim Parsell once told me that attending WordCamp San Francisco 2014 was one of the best experiences of her life. It was her first WordCamp San Francisco and although she was unemployed at the time, she was able to attend thanks to financial assistance received from the WordPress Foundation. Knowing how much it meant to her to attend the event, the Foundation has launched a new scholarship program in memory of Kim to provide women in the WordPress community the same opportunity.

The details of the scholarship are as follows:

  • It will be a scholarship for a woman contributor with financial need who has never attended the event before.
  • It will be limited to WCSF’s replacement event rather than available for any WordCamp.
  • When travel scholarships are announced for the event, this specific memorial scholarship will be mentioned in the post.
  • It will cover the ticket cost, flight, and lodging.
  • It will be awarded once per year.
  • It will be funded by the Foundation.
  • It will be awarded by the community team (or whoever within the project is overseeing travel scholarships that year) to the recipient 3 months in advance of the event.

Jen Mylo, who helped turn the idea into a reality, says the program will likely live inside of a broader scholarship program, “The assumption is that it will live within a broader travel scholarship program that can be worked on this year (SF was a test of the idea, but not intended to be the only WC that would offer assistance in the future if it worked well, which we haven’t yet worked out).”

By limiting the scholarship to women, the goal is to encourage more women to get involved with the project. Mylo also explained why it’s limited to first time attendees, “As a Kim memorial, we wanted this to be very Kim-specific, and that first-time experience is what we want to provide someone in her memory.”

Although there was talk of possibly naming a WordPress release after Kim, this is a much more fitting memorial as it allows her to contribute to the project for years to come.


14 responses to “The WordPress Foundation Creates a Traveling Scholarship in Memory of Kim Parsell”

  1. Limiting this award only to women is discriminatory.

    I know of no impediments (past or present) to women getting involved in the WordPress community and as such I don’t see a need for any kind of special incentive.

    Hmmm. If this award was limited only to males… or only to whites… or perhaps only to white males, I wonder what kind of issues might be raised by those who would disagree with such a discriminatory policy?

    That was a trick question. I know the answer.

      • I think is it a legitimate issue for discussion. Sorry you disagree but that is your right and privilege and I respect that.

        When someone calls me a juvenile name I remind myself that at age 67 and an early ARPANET user/programmer, maybe I’m the only adult in the room.

        • RE: maybe I’m the only adult in the room. Definitely not – your comment indicates a lack of understanding of the issue IMHO and some disrepect for what is a moving memorial for many people involved with WordPress.

          • OK.

            Let’s review.

            Mr. Geiger called me a troll.

            Mr/Ms. buzztone is calling me “clueless” and disrespectful.

            Being of a certain age (probably greater than their combined ages by a fair margin) and having seen real discrimination (admission quotas, public accommodations, voting rights, etc.) up close and personal, I’d like to know why an award that can ONLY be won by ONE sex, or ONE racial group, or ONE religion, or ONE ethnicity is not discriminatory.

            Talk to me.

            If this is akin to Affirmative Action or gender equality for WordPress, please make the case why it is necessary.

            Would this award be less “moving” if it were open to all members of the WP community?

            I’m open to reason, but no one has presented anything other than personal attacks.

            Instead of of making a case by stating something similar to “I’m right, you’re an idiot,” as exemplified above, perhaps someone will refute my position in a logical, mature and adult manner.

  2. Reply to Dev. (maybe not the best but my opinion)

    They have chosen it for women due to the low amount of women in the wordpress community trying to encourage to join as a career. I would just put it down to a simple supply and there is enough demand for this foundation to fund it. I mean if this was about products and one wasn’t selling as well as another it would be equivalent of putting one on special.

    But we can look at things differently and so yourself and others may take offense to this well myself and others don’t. That is how I see it, assuming they are being open with their reasons which if they are not that is another discussion.

    • I understand the ‘goals’ of attracting more PEOPLE into the WP community via an award.

      But I have some questions about an award attainable only to women.

      Are women ‘discouraged’ from being part of the WP community (however one might define it?)

      Is there active hazing that takes place?

      Are there strict quotas on the number of women who can be admitted?

      Are there specific tests that must be passed to gain entry?

      If woman are admitted, are they relegated to the “back of the bus?” (Most won’t understand the reference but I remember it well. It is interesting that we are having this discussion on MLK day.)

      If the above is true, will this award solve all of that?

      Personally, I think that an award only open to women is actually insulting to women. But that’s just me.

      Those who believe in a meritocracy where ‘rewards’ are earned on a level playing field of competition, as opposed to ‘given’ because of race, gender, religion, or privilege… we object to a “free ride” attainable only to one demographic entity.

      And what I also don’t understand is the perception that there is a shortage of women in the so-called ‘community.’ I know many women who either own or work in WordPress-only web design shops or who create themes and plugins, or who do social media consulting around the WP platform. Where are the metrics that suggest (much less prove) that there is a ‘shortage’ of women?

      One thing we have learned from the (USA) Affirmative Action laws is that discrimination to combat discrimination is logically flawed and has engendered more discord than it has solved.

      Are there any Eskimos in the WordPress community? If not, should we have an award only attainable by Eskimos?

      @Syder, I know I’m not going to change your mind, nor that of anyone else here, so I’ll get off of my soapbox and ‘move on.’ But I do want to commend you on presenting your views in a calm, rational, non-aggressive manner… you know… like an adult. I, and I’m sure others here appreciate that… and that we can agree to disagree without bitterness and rancor.

      • I didn’t really want to get too much into this discussion, but I did want to answer one of your questions.

        Are women ‘discouraged’ from being part of the WP community (however one might define it?)

        Yes, they are sometimes discouraged. Not always. It does happen though.

        Any male-dominated field is going to be somewhat tough for women to get into simply because there’s a bunch of men. While I can’t speak from personal experience, I imagine it is intimidating for some women to get involved at all, regardless of how inviting or uninviting such a community is. I don’t think anyone really has any doubts as to whether WordPress’ has more men involved than women. It’s largely the same across all tech fields. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. A large part of it is that men are probably more likely to enter these fields because these are the sort of fields that interest men more than they do women. I’m sure there are other things at play as well, but that’s a discussion for another day. Whatever it is, it doesn’t change the fact that the WordPress software brings in more men, which in and of itself can be discouraging.

        There are also specific instances (some people have written blog posts on these) where women have been made to feel uncomfortable. Some of these instances are just “guys being guys”. However, they have no place in a professional environment where they might make women feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.

        With all that said, none of it matters in this specific case. Ultimately, what matters is honoring Kim. One of the things that *Kim* wanted to see was more women actively involved in the WordPress community.


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