OK, I'll bite. Sides of this issue you might not be considering
Posted Aug 25, 2009 15:00 UTC (Tue) by forthy
In reply to: OK, I'll bite. Sides of this issue you might not be considering
Parent article: FSF to host a mini-summit on Women in Free Software
Where in the world is "take virginity away" equal to an act of rape?
In countries where all people (except the geeks ;-) have sex first time
before being of age?
My take at what our problem is: Women hate us geeks. That's why there
are so few women in geek-like activities. They hate us because we are
boring, we don't dress properly (we look deliberately poor), we don't
smalltalk easily on parties - if we go to parties at all (other than of
course geek parties). It's not our social deficits - if someone who beats
his spouse loses her finally, he's got a new one the next day. Yes, we
have that kind of people in the OSS szene (think of Hans Reiser). He was
married, and had children. Come on, this sort of social deficit is only a
serious handicap if the spouse is six feet under, and you have to deal
with a court.
What matters a lot to women is if you are wealthy or at least care
about wealth. Free software and wealth? Doesn't seem to fit. This was
Hans' real problem, this is our real problem. Women who do software
already have a gender-specific handicap. But doing it for free, just for
fun, and not out of monetary interest, that's a much larger handicap for
female way of thinking. Remember: Men are driven by recognition, by rank
they achieve through fights. Women aren't. Their rank comes of age, not
of achievement (we are apes, after all). The ranking system we in the
FOSS szene have is not recognised by women - it has no obvous benefits
outside, you can't pay the rent with Linux kernel patches (well, you can,
but the reward system is extremely indirect).
This will change all on its own. IMHO it is basically a recognition
problem: Do ordinary people recognise how important software is? More and
more, they do. Computers for young people are everyday's tools. They
aren't strange things stuffed in geeky cellars any more. Women often lag
behind in adapting new technologies, but when the technologies are old and
boring, they are usually only operated by women. Again: Remember that
rank in the female ranking system comes primarily of age, not of
achievement! What has been around long enough obviously is important.
And always remember: The question is "why are there so few"? All those
points that prevent people from joining are not the points that annoy
people who already are in there. You have to ask the people who are not
in there, why they won't join. They may have completely different
reasons. I think what we need to fix first to appeal more to women is the
reward system. We can't go on with a reward system where the joy of
having a working program is the only reward, and that is spoiled by the
bug reports. I know of no woman personally who is rewarded by the result
of her work. They all need compliments in addition. "Bug reports"
usually don't work. Even when women complain about problems, it is no
good to help them by telling them how they should do (especially when
completely counter-intuitive things are involved). They want that you
listen and agree to their laments. Women apparently can improve. But an
open discussion how to improve things - no way.
Of course this is a very stereotypical view. But like the long-haired
geek with goatee, stereotypes are not generally wrong. They are only
wrong in special cases, in the other cases, they are mere exaggerations.
Statistically, special cases are not that relevant.
So to sum that up: The most urgent thing to establish is a positive
reward and compliment system. Put a "send flower picture to developer"
button on Sourceforge pages, next to the donate (developer can choose
secretly what kind of picture it actually will be, and the option "porn"
is only shown after the developer has proven he's male ;-). Add a "thanks
for fixing that bug" button to bugzilla. Make sure that the social page
of your project shows how long each developer has been with the project,
how many flowers and how many thanks for bugfixes they got (and build a
social page first, idiots! If women care about anything, it is about
brownie point competition with their peers). Add a pink flower and
butterflies theme to Sourceforge (also for
gay developers; if you need inspiration, look at a random web page from
Asia ;-). Wait for asian people to become significant part of
the community - the girls there have less problems with technology and
being geeks than ours. And that despite they are usually much more
stereotypical girls than ours. They haven't been that much through
emancipation, so they just accept the gender differences. Some things go
away by themselves, our young girls have less problems with them being
girls than the generation before - this gender-mainstreaming is already
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