Tamsin: It's the summer holidays. I'm not going away anywhere because I don't have a lot of money for the time being. I have a lot of free time on my hands, so among other things, I find myself playing quite a lot of go, because I find it stimulating and fun. But I have this nagging feeling that I ought not to be spending so much time playing go, because it's a "guy" thing to do. A little voice in my head says: "this is not what girls are supposed to do. You're not supposed to spend hours playing and observing on a go server." It's really annoying. I want to play go, but I feel like I'm breaking some kind of unwritten convention. It would really help me to see other women like me who like playing go, a lot. It would be nice to know if others spent a lot of time on KGS and elsewhere. It would be nice to feel that I'm not alone, even if by being in company, it is only the virtual company of knowing that what I am doing is not somehow "unacceptable" or "weird" for a woman, but that others are doing the same thing. Okay, of course go is much more popular among women than chess, but even so, I am having a hard time battling against my own image of go players being male. I wish I could go to a go club and find it was an even balance of men and women; I wish I could play other women online.
Jared: My university club had 5 women, out of about 30 members. This seems like a good percentage, but I think we would all like to see an even balance. What do you think makes women feel at home at a go club?
Tamsin: It's difficult to come up with much specific. The things I talk about above are as much to do with me as they are to the topic "women and go". I know that in places like Japan go is popular among both sexes: you only have to go to the Nihon Kiin's salon to see that. For personal reasons, which I prefer not to discuss, I feel considerable internal pressure to do girly things, and to conform to stereotypes, but on the other hand, I like to think of myself as being different, independent-minded, not afraid to do my own thing, to have unusual hobbies. So, there is some conflict there, between my perceptions and my self-image. Rationally, go wins out: there's no compelling reason why I shouldn't play it as much as I like, but I sometimes feel bothered, anyway.
Go clubs are great, because you get to meet other people, but I much prefer meeting in a person's home (including my own) to going to a pub. The trouble with pubs is that although they're convenient, they tend to be noisy and smoky. Smoke clings to your hair and to your clothes, which I don't like. You tend to find a "blokier" atmosphere in pubs, too, which makes me feel uncomfortable. Large go salons are a good idea: they're convenient, but they don't feel like the local boozer. Sadly, it's hard to see somebody risking good money in opening such a place in the UK.
DamienSullivan At Caltech, which is 3:1 male/female, there were a few of us playing Go for a while. Only one that I know of was female. But she was the shodan, who gave 9 stones to someone who gave 9 stones to the rest of us.