Women don't have the same passion for open source men do? Really??
Posted Aug 27, 2009 10:13 UTC (Thu) by njs
In reply to: Women don't have the same passion for open source men do? Really??
Parent article: FSF to host a mini-summit on Women in Free Software
Well, obviously I cannot satisfy that request myself. Perhaps someone with the required chromosomes will chime in.
In the mean time, though, can I point something out that you may not have considered?
In FOSS, there are about 60 men for every 1 woman. Imagine that that one woman sees problems, and is trying to speak out about them. And suppose that -- as we see in these threads -- they can write dozens of comments to one man and yet fail to communicate those problems. Now multiply that by 60, and realize that's unasked-for work piled on top of, you know, actually hacking.
Many women in FOSS do make heroic efforts to communicate what they see -- they form organizations like LinuxChix, Debian Women, they write essays, give keynotes, found blogs, curate wikis, etc.
But those aren't what you want. You asking one of them to take the time to explain things to you personally. And after they do that, honestly, it also sounds like if you don't find their explanation sufficiently complete with regard to mechanism, with I don't know, charts and lists of people who never became hackers and circles and arrows on the back, then you reserve the right to ignore them and continue blithely on talking about how it's a shame women just don't have passion for programming.
If someone posted a demand on some random mailing list, "I'm not going to believe that Bruce really thinks <...>, unless he shows up here and tells me so himself, and in *full detail*", what would you think of that person?
You're an old school hacker, community leader, prominent person. It's easy to assume that with all that expertise and experience, if you can't see a problem then oh well, there must not *be* a problem. Please consider the alternative possibility that you are a good person, have the best of intentions, and also a big of unconsidered privilege that is making you part of the problem.
Here are some quotes to start with:
- Since women are socialized to not be competitive and avoid conflict, and since they have low self-confidence to begin with, Linux and open source in general are even more difficult than most areas of computing for women to get and stay involved in. -- Valerie Aurora
- Theres also more blatant problems, like sexist jokes, pornographic presentations at conferences, harrassment, and even death threats against women in the open source community. -- Kirrily Robert
- ...women related their
experiences of prolific sexual attention [...] While there are examples of outright
offensive online postings on F/LOSS websites such as Slashdot, what seemed more
generally off-putting was the way in which the perception of women as carriers of
sexuality makes them feel alien and Other. [...] our female
informants also reported being placed in motherly roles
[...] we have been told by some female participants that they have
been repeatedly consulted for dress advice by complete strangers. As K put it, : I
don't mind giving these tips once in a while. The problem is only that once you have
done so a technical discussion is thereafter rarely possible. -- FLOSSPOLS: Gender: Integrated Report of Findings
Those were not difficult to find -- that wiki I mentioned has a whole Fine Manual
, too. Helplessness does not become us.
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