What is Broken
Posted Aug 9, 2005 19:23 UTC (Tue) by swiftone
In reply to: scientific?
Parent article: Getting in touch with the feminine side of open source (NewsForge)
"why try to 'fix' something that isn't broken?"
If open source projects aren't benefitting from ~50% of the minds available, then something is broken.
Of course, it's quite possible that many women contribute without bringing up their gender, because the men tend to overreact. (or drool, or patronize). In such a case it's not _attracting_ women that's the problem, it's learning to stop _discouraging_ them.
Sadly, this article (and/or the panel) seems to focus on women not being attracted to the "technical side of things" rather than on the behavior they receive if they try. I've seen Allison Randal politely smile and change the subject when someone makes a suggestive comment to her, I've seen one or two other women on IRC or perlmonks do similar sidesteps with grace. I'm assuming many women with thinner skins or less patience are driven off, while men don't have to worry much about that sort of incident. Since the quality of your code has little to do with your ability to withstand streams of come-ons, the communities lose minds, and not necessarily minds of little value.
That is what is broken. I don't need to understand how men and women are or are not functionally different to realize that every brain driven away for reasons other than the quality of their contribution is a waste.
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