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quantitative

quantitative

Posted Dec 2, 2010 9:02 UTC (Thu) by maco (guest, #53641)
In reply to: remember that these are rare events by dlang
Parent article: The dark side of open source conferences

I just made a list of the conferences I've attended. For tech conferences in general, I've attended 15 in the last 3 years. 9 of those were specifically related to FOSS.

1 of the FOSS conferences was the one with the "surprise kiss." I'm inclined to include the guy who insisted on following a friend and me to our hotel room until we went to fetch security guards in the category of a pretty bad one too...which would make 2 out 15 conferences I've attended total to have had a high "ick" factor. If fetching a security guard is justified, it's crossed a line.

If I include things like distasteful presentations (undressed women photos, person on stage mooning the audience, etc) and the example I gave in the interview of being told someone was agreeing with me "because if he doesn't, he won't get any tonight" (I said "implied," but it really wasn't so subtle, eh?), and the creepy guy (note: he was conference staff of some sort) who tried to ask me to be his mistress (???), then it goes up to 6 out of 15, with 2 out of the 4 additions being at FOSS-specific events.

(Oh, and none of these was Defcon or Black Hat. Their reputations precede them, so I will not be attending them any time soon.)

Summary:
Bad enough to need security guards: 1/9 FOSS and 2/15 overall
Total incidents: 3/9 FOSS and 6/15 overall some recent

So, there's quantitative data of my experiences at recent events. Make of them what you will.

Oh, a bit more: 2 of the 3 assaults mentioned in the article happened this year. In the case of mine (the kiss), I was that person's second assault of the day/conference. The other was much more overtly sexual.


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quantitative

Posted Dec 2, 2010 9:23 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

my take away from this is that this is not a problem caused by the FOSS community as such, the FOSS conferences are just mirroring other problems. (although the numbers are probably not statistically valid, this would indicate that FOSS is slightly better than the non FOSS events, 30% bad FOSS vs 50% bad other, not that any of these are good numbers)

the way the article is written (and the way people are understanding it, based on some of the comments here), it sounds as if this is a problem caused by the FOSS community.

I am surprised that your experiences have been that bad, I get to a couple major events a year and have never witnessed anything along the lines of the 'bad enough to contact security' types of things. I have heard comments that could make people uncomfortable (and heard some that made me uncomfortable, including during some keynotes, after which I have complained in writing about the lack of taste of the presenter, feedback is good)

quantitative

Posted Dec 2, 2010 9:44 UTC (Thu) by maco (guest, #53641) [Link]

The others were all hacking/security cons. Hackers on Planet Earth, DojoCon (small DC-area con), and ShmooCon, specifically. I think the hacking community, in general, is fairly well-known as being in the same state as the FOSS community when it comes to male:female ratios and commonality of misogyny. I suspect if I attended more "mainstream" tech events (Java developer conferences or MSDN stuff, for example) that those would have more women in attendance (closer to on-par with the percent graduating with CS degrees or working in the field, that is, about 1/4 of attendees being women) and fewer issues.

Actually, the only con I've attended where I can't say "one of the years I was there, $bad_thing happened" is the Debian one, DebConf. This was also the first year I attended, but I'm hoping that's a trend that will at least stick if I get a chance to go again.

quantitative

Posted Dec 2, 2010 10:46 UTC (Thu) by aleXXX (subscriber, #2742) [Link]

> I suspect if I attended more "mainstream" tech events (Java developer
> conferences or MSDN stuff, for example) that those would have more women
> in attendance (closer to on-par with the percent graduating with CS
> degrees or working in the field, that is, about 1/4 of attendees being
> women) and fewer issues.

Depends.
If you feel offended by hired attractive booth babes being present, you will not like about 100% of commercial technology fairs (I have been at Cebit, embedded world, EAGE). Some advertisement material may use pictures of pretty young women presenting stuff. They will be usually dressed business-style, some companies try to get more attention by dressing them more "attractive" (I think that's mostly the companies where the target group is young men, e.g. gaming related stuff, search e.g. for "Cebit booth babes" to get some of the more "extreme" examples).

I have noticed *much* less to zero in this direction at FLOSS events (FOSDEM, LinuxTag, KDE Akademy, Chemnitzer LinuxTag, Dresdner LinuxInfoTage). Also, I have the impression that the women in the KDE community attending our events are usually very happy and don't have any of these problems (maybe it's different if all attenders are from one community and everybody knows everybody else).

Alex

quantitative

Posted Dec 2, 2010 11:57 UTC (Thu) by maco (guest, #53641) [Link]

KDE is one segment of the FOSS world that sticks out to me as having quite a *lot* of very visible women. K/Ubuntu folks noticed this too, when Lydia and I covered Celeste for a KDE Junior Jobs / Kubuntu Papercuts IRC session--they asked "why are all the women into KDE?" (A GNOME user then popped up to say she existed.)

quantitative

Posted Dec 3, 2010 5:12 UTC (Fri) by njs (guest, #40338) [Link]

> the way the article is written (and the way people are understanding it, based on some of the comments here), it sounds as if this is a problem caused by the FOSS community.

But, it is obviously a problem caused by the FOSS community. As in, each of the problems described was caused by someone who was in the FOSS community. I hope other communities also try to clean up their act, but whether they do or not is irrelevant to those numbers -- we can and should do better than a 33% harassment rate, and the only way that's going to happen is if we take action.

quantitative

Posted Dec 3, 2010 6:57 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

no, it is a problem that is part of the tech community that FOSS is a part of.

that's very different from saying that FOSS (or the FOSS community) is the cause of the problem.

we can and should work to reduce the problem, but we should not make it sound as if it is far more dangerous to go to a FOSS event than other similar events that don't involve FOSS.

I am not excusing the behavior, but the fact is that when you get several hundred to a few thousand people togeather for just about any event, the small number of bad apples out there can cause problems

quantitative

Posted Dec 3, 2010 17:07 UTC (Fri) by njs (guest, #40338) [Link]

So I get you're really worried that someone might judge the FOSS community poorly over this or something, and that would be horrible and unfair because *relatively* it isn't doing so bad. Sure, okay, women need to be aware that any tech event they go to is potentially dangerous.

(There is still that nagging question of why women are 20x more common in commercial software development than in FOSS, but from what I understand about that I'm willing to believe that it's online harassment rather than in-person harassment that's driving them away.)

But instead of worrying about who might judge who, and worrying about whether we'll look bad, I'd rather worry about how we can actually make things better -- in particular at FOSS events, since their organizers are reading this thread and other event organizers aren't. That's the point of this article.

quantitative

Posted Dec 5, 2010 0:09 UTC (Sun) by maco (guest, #53641) [Link]

I suspect the "very tiny numbers of women" thing is a big part of the problem. The group of tech cons I counted up that weren't FOSS ones were *all* security ones..which have even tinier numbers of women.


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