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Re: [News] More Women Drawn to Open Source

__/ [ BearItAll ] on Thursday 12 October 2006 15:39 \__

> Roy Schestowitz wrote:
>> Opening doors to open source for women
>> ,----[ Quote ]
>> | From thoughtless comments on mailing lists to outright rudeness, women
>> | constantly battle the perception that there is no comfortable place for
>> | them in the predominately male world of open source software. That,
>> | however, may be beginning to change.
>> | 
>> | With the advent of projects like GNOME Foundation's Summer Outreach
>> | Program aimed at supporting women developers, and with women-centric
>> | LUGs such as LinuxChix and Debian Women springing up, women are finding
>> | the respect that most community members -- male and female -- feel they
>> | deserve.
>> |
>> | [...]
>> |
>> | Once a woman has joined an open source community, there are several
>> | things she can do to help prop open doors for other women. "One of the
>> | major things missing from free software right now is female role models
>> | -- being a role model for other women is one of the best ways to promote
>> | women's involvement," says Wallach.
>> `----
>> http://www.itmanagersjournal.com/feature/20990
> I don't see why they should think like that. Linux is the same whether your
> male or female. I don't see why women should find it more difficult than
> men. As for the 'uncomfortable in male dominated news groups' is concerned,
> who knows how many of those who post are male and female, the nick names
> don't always give a clue. I know for a fact that one regular poster in the
> suse group is female, don't know if they are more, but because the subject
> is Linux then the discusions can be sexless.

There are quite a few female readers (as well as posters) in C.O.L.A. In
fact, I see a seemingly similar ratio in other newsgroups. Some would not
make it obvious as it can lead to dis/advantage. Take PJ for example. Why
didn't she just post under "Pamela Jones" from day one? She implicitly
argued somewhere that the uncertainty annulled prejudice and added to some
mystique. It was the content that mattered (SCO case) rather than character.
To give an adverse example, Slashdotters with female names are
stereotypically argued to be guys who seek more attention (or a good laugh).
Likewise in online gaming, especially RPG type such as Ultima. Gamers say
they can get freebies by choosing female avatars.

Bear(ItAll) in mind that some would argue that only 10% of the readers
actually participate and another 1% participate regularly (going by the
statistics/rule cited for Web logs). In Google Groups alone, nearly 1,500
are subscribed to this newsgroup and pageview figures indicate that they
actively access the forum (so these are not purely long-forgotten
accounts/subs). There appear to be a similar type of pattern in the
WordPress mailing lists which accommodate hundreds of readers while only a
dozen regularly participate in the discussion (me included). Some just read
the digests. The females present in that list (a rarity, I'll admit it) seem
to interpret some technical disagreements as gender-based discrimination.
But it's easy to seek excuses for technical ideas that have no
merit/practicability and we all do that sometimes (both men and women),
namely finding excuses. Steretypes and perceptions don't help. There have
been attempts to encourage better mixtures, but often it requires open
campaign, which can achieve the opposite effect (deterring women). It's a
bit like advertisements from a large company such as Coca Cola. Some will
perceive the existing participation and  relationship as the outcome as
brainwash or the outcome of crusades for change.

> Linux is ideal for the female mentality anyway, lasses tend to like to get
> things done by the shortest path. So a system that wont get in their way,
> that will always be there ready when they have an email to write or a web
> site to browse should be perfect for them.

I know some women who are highly proficient when it comes to Linux. And their
verbal abilities are usually better, which makes their explanations less
geeky/jargonised (command like spewage/vanity) and more helpful/intuitive.
Carla Schroeder is probably one example among quite a few. Speaking of
"Female role models" in this area (as the article referred to them as), they
already exists. My correspondences with PJ sometimes lead me bashful because
she is well ahead of me on the contextual, non-technical side of things.
There's a reason why she can attract tens of thousands of readers every day,
without involving character or branding. Community plays a role as well.

> Simmilar in all situations, they don't like you in the way when they are
> cooking cleaning washing ironing gardening washing the car pressing your
> shirt and all the other things girls love to do for us men.

That's why I do all these things myself. I can't get myself to delegate tasks
to a girlfriend although another way to think of it is "team work". Maybe
taking turns and interchanging tasks leads the way to healthier (albeit less
efficient) relationships.

Best wishes,


Roy S. Schestowitz      | Linux: does exactly what it says on the tin
http://Schestowitz.com  |  SuSE GNU/Linux   ¦     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
         run-level 5  Sep 28 23:16                   last=S  
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